Make social media work for you
As branded Facebook and other social media spaces increase their popularity, visits to corporate websites are beginning to level off. People want to interact, and more and more that interaction happens best in social media, and not on a corporate website. For universities, social media is just one piece of their online communication – but it is a very large piece.
Social Media must be approached with a certain caution. Followers can “unlike” us with a mouse click. Top reasons for “unliking” a brand: “they post too much” (44%), and “content became repetitive or boring over time” (38%).
Continually interacting with the public adds great value, which also implies there may be situations encountered where engaging with certain individuals may have a negative impact on the university:
- Platforms require daily maintenance and interaction
- Prospective students are now judging a school based on its social media accounts
- Social media accounts should be managed by someone who is passionate about the school and who understands the platform
- Social media pages should offer features which promote engagement
Social Media Strategy
Modes of online communication have changed rapidly, and institutions are responsible for keeping abreast of the latest methods of communication and brand identification. Social media is not a fad.
Your social media strategy should:
- Create brand awareness
- Bring factoids and the face of our community (students, faculty, staff) insights to life
- Engage users by providing relevant and visually appealing content
- Promote your vision with consistent and relevant information
- Return your investment through admitted students, third party funding, media awareness …
Making Social Media work for You
While outreach remains their core competence; each of your main social media platforms is particularly suited to specific tasks (example):
- Facebook / Instagram creating pride and encouraging school spirit – promotion of school merchandise and reaching out to prospective students in a safe, online, community
- Twitter announcements, news, events, and discussion threads
- Google + / YouTube posting of classroom materials and multimedia – an invitation to produce content
- LinkedIn / Research gate networking opportunity for faculty and staff
Focus: Social Media as it Relates to your Brand
Giving people a stake in your Brand
It is important to think of social media, not just as a marketing channel, but as a kind of retail space. We follow and share information about brands because we find an affinity with them.
To use an example: you, and your audience, might share the same obsession of Ivy League education. You aren’t (probably) Harvard, nor do you (possibly) live in Boston. You are however able to append and adapt those same obsessions to our own brand, and share these with your audience in your social media.
Your social media should promote and engage that which is core to your institution, as well as that with which it associates: an elite education, campus life, international community, cutting edge research, coffee … these things (topics, ideas, ideals etc.) are your “brand obsessions”. It’s all about saying to your audience: “We know how you live, and what you want. We get you.”
Studying at Harvard, at the end of the day, is much like studying anywhere – much like drinking a coffee at Starbucks is the same as drinking a coffee at most other cafés. It isn’t about the reality – it is about the Brand, and belonging.
This approach to social media is even more honest than “living” the brand – actually being at Harvard, for example, because we are “imagining” what it’s like to be in the Ivy League – which is ultimately what most of our prospective students are also doing.