As a marketer for a college or university, where the primary demographic is 18-to-24-year-olds, the fact that you should be all over social media is an absolute given. Facebook is the first place a student will go if they want to find out if there’s a weather-related school closing. Alumni keep in touch through Twitter. Sports games can be documented through the blog. Let’s not even get started on how faculty engage with their respective departments, parents keep tab on what’s happening at the school, donors find recipients, and so on.
Even though you’ve probably already leveraged social media, it’s important to recognize that its best practices are ever-changing. Now is a great time to re-visit your campaign and ensure that you’re doing all you can do. Here are six steps for doing so.
Step 1: Have a Clear Vision of Where you are and Where you Want to Be
Take a good, hard look at the content on your school’s social media pages. Do they have a certain voice? Is there any rhyme or reason to the content? Perhaps most importantly, are they engaging? Who is responsible for them?
It’s time to set some goals. Decide what you hope to accomplish and take note of the types of posts that are particularly successful in terms of engagement. Use this information to develop broad goals. A few possibilities:
- Gaining more alumni as followers
- Get more students to sign up for x event through a Facebook link
- Recruit student guest bloggers on certain topics
- Develop themed posts for days of the week (e.g. Student Spotlight Sunday or Athletic Insider Tuesday)
Setting goals helps you to move forward and decide if your strategy is effective.
Step 2: Evaluate your Platforms
There are so many social media platforms that you can’t exactly have a page on each one, but you also don’t want to miss an important opportunity. Quality over quantity is key. It’s most important to think about what makes sense. For example, you might not need a Tumblr account for your entire university, but Literature students might find it to be a great resource for sharing student writing. Instagram is a great place for athletics to show videos from the big games and post scores. Come up with a few ideas and give them a test run, but nix anything that doesn’t seem to be working to save time.
Step 3: Go Department by Department
Piggybacking off the previous step, it’s important to understand that every department within your university has a separate target audience. Your school’s general accounts should be for sharing big news and school events, but it’s a good idea to encourage department heads to start their own social media profiles for more niche content. Residential Life, for example, can share information about parking updates while the Humanities department head can post pictures of student art and events at local museums. You can hold monthly social media meetings to discuss campaigns.
Step 4: Establish Consistency
While it may seem that having each department establish a profile would get out of hand, this is why you need to focus on consistency. The content may vary, but the voice and professionalism should remain consistent. This doesn’t mean hampering creativity, but rather, having each department share important announcements, ensuring that each page abides by any legal restrictions, and that all profile managers are moderating student engagement for appropriateness.
Consistency also refers to the school’s voice. What is your university’s brand or focused initiative? If going green is a big thing on campus, that should be kept in mind for all social media profiles, for example. Anyone posting on university social media profiles needs to remember that the school has a personality and values.
Step 5: Dedicate Time
It was already mentioned that a monthly social media meeting could be beneficial, but the need to allocate the proper amount of time to each profile is important. If department heads are incapable of posting on profiles daily, or at least weekly, it’s definitely worth hiring a student or other staff member who can. As we get deeper into the technological age, students rely on social media more and more. The social media landscape shouldn’t be cluttered with inactive profiles — rather, there should be active ones that provide useful and interesting information and are easy to find.