Social media is often the forgotten step child of higher education marketing. Many schools don’t quite know what to do with it, and most don’t have the time to figure it out. In some cases, it’s literally forgotten about all together. However, social media is often the only place where casual conversation happens in #highered marketing. When done right, an effective social strategy will jumpstart prospects’ experiences with your program or, better yet, encourage them to start the conversation.
With a little time (appx. 2-3 hours per week) and a strategic plan in place, social media allows you to make real connections with students, alumni and your academic community.
Here are five ways to simplify and amplify your social media efforts right now:
1. Identify your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Peter Drucker once said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” He was absolutely right. Successful social media strategies start with a goal. Sit down with your team—whether that’s you and a student worker or ten people across five programs—and identify your key performance indicators.
Tip: A simple Google Sheet—like the one shown above—with marketing objectives, annual events, and recruitment activity by quarter is a great tool to have in place for a record of these discussions.
2. Be selective with your topics and channels.
Having an impactful presence on one or two social channels is better than having a quiet presence on every social channel. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead, choose your channels wisely and target your topics. Start your strategy with three to five branded themes and test their performance across your selected channels.
Tip: Throwback Thursday (#TBT) posts—like the Wharton School example below—are always a hit on Twitter and Facebook. Share exciting news and announcements from campus so your social community can celebrate it with you.
Example sourced from The Wharton School of Business Facebook.
3. Streamline efforts with management tools.
There are so many affordable social media management tools out there. HootSuite is user friendly and provides a dashboard view where you can listen, share, schedule, and manage across most channels. Sprout is a little pricier, but fantastic for more sophisticated reporting.
Tip: If you’re determined to do this the old fashioned way, Trello—shown in the image below—is a free project management tool that helps you manage your social marketing efforts manually.
4. Place links and Call-to-actions (CTAs) strategically.
Like. Share. Tweet. Social media use is naturally active. Directing your social traffic back to owned content—like your blog or website—will help keep the conversation with your brand going.
Tip: Be careful not to overuse CTAs or oversell with your organic social posts. Place links and CTAs when it feels right to create a natural next step for your readers. See an example of casually placed CTA below.
Example sourced from UVA Darden School of Business Facebook.
5. Identify your industry influencers and campus champions.
Social media is a place for sharing and community building. One of the best things you can do is keep a record of your biggest fans and renowned followers to strengthen your efforts.
Notice the same alumni liking every post on LinkedIn? Finding that certain faculty members always share your Facebook posts? Those are your influencers and campus champions. Share their content and ask them to contribute—live Tweet an event or takeover Instagram for a day—when it makes sense.
Looking for more time-saving tips and resources? Download Converge Consulting’s free Content Strategy Starter Kit.