3 tips to optimize your college’s presence in social media
Higher Education Marketing

3 tips to optimize your college’s presence in social media

Date posted: May 15, 2013

According to the 2013 Social Admissions Report , 75% of students of class 2013 are using social media to make their enrolment decision. Whatever the exact nature of the influence on their decision, this means that social media must play a role in the overall marketing strategy of your college or university. Many colleges fail to fully leverage their presence in social media. They create disconnect between their brand on their website and their social media profiles. Here are 3 tips to make sure your college is well represented online.

Source: postano.com
Source: postano.com

  1. Develop a social media strategy
    • Define your social goals: Along with the Marketing team, determine what your college wants to achieve through social media. Determine what success will look like on your Analytics tool. More traffic to your site? More leads? More registrations? Do not limit your goals to “increase numbers of leads”, but aim for precise success metrics: “Increase the number of leads from social media by 50”. It will make the goal more realistic and will increase your chances of success.
    • Define your social channels: Facebook is still one of the main social media platforms for colleges, but recent studies show that students are leaving Facebook to platforms that are more specific to their social group or needs. Instagram, Pinterest, Scoop it, Storify it, Tumblr? How to reach your audience without spreading yourself thin through the social media race? The only way to think about it is to make sure you are relevant. Start by analyzing your students and prospective students: how are they using a specific network? Is it consistent with how you would be using the network to promote your college?
    • Gather your team:  Identify the persons who will be working on creating or keeping your college’s presence online. Your team should include staff from your main social goals. If the main gaol is specifically recruitment, have a member of the Recruiting team onboard. If it is just to promote the college image, include a marketing person. Make sure you consider creating a social media Student Ambassador team.
    • Define your keywords and key messages: Find out what keywords your college tries to rank for. Keywords should be part of your communications strategy. Various SEO tools can help you determine what they are. Make sure you use those keywords throughout your online activities and on social media.
    • Establish a social media content strategy that includes your college’s blog, but also all the content you need to create to be shared (videos, comments). For each month, determine how long you will spend on your various platforms, what you will be doing (sharing, community building, etc.), what you will be sharing with your community. This will make you save time as it will offer you a base of content while allowing you to share content spontaneously. Your social media content plan should also include a channel plan, defining how each piece of your content will be shared (time, platforms, etc.) Make your online presence consistent with your offline presence. This is beyond logo and colors. It pertains to the tone of your school online and offline, the atmosphere in your school.
  2. Manage your college’s brand efficiently
    • Maintain a consistent image: Keep all your profiles updated with the right profile pictures, background and cover, as it is the first thing that potential students will see once the click, for instance on your Google+ account. Logo sizes and specs will change over time. So will the types of content. That is why it is important to manage your social media profiles on a daily basis.
    • Choose the right tools to manage your social media presence: there are many tools out there to help you manage all your accounts more efficiently Hootsuite, Spredfast or SproutSocial can also help you manage the image of your brand and spread your content effortlessly on different networks.
    • Be actually active on social media: Once you create an account on a social media platform, you need to be active on it: share relevant content and engage with your audience.
  3. Monitor your college’s online reputation
      Social media reputation management is key to keep an eye on your college’s reputation and react appropriately. Listen to what is being said about your college.

      • Use the right tools: Many platforms allow you to do keyword search, which will give you an idea of the perception of your school. It is important to look for key hash tags for possible mentions. Other tools are available such as:
        • Google Alerts is a great way to start to receive emails every time specific keywords are being used online.
        • Tweet Beep which are Twitter alerts
        • Social Mention allows you to keep track of mentions and the sentiment associated to them
        • Finally, Mention, helps you create alerts for your college, your competitors, and get notified instantly when there is a new mention on any source on the web (forums, blogs, social media networks, videos, news, etc.) If you like a mention that comes out about your college, you can retweet it or post it on Facebook and share it with all your community. Mention can be used on different platforms on the web, desktop and mobile. There is a free plan that allows you 500 mentions per month.

      • Keep track of trends. Keeping track of all mentions and interactions will help you identify trends and react appropriately. Recently, some of our clients had to face the “Spotted at” trend, where students share anonymously on a Facebook page. Although the nature of the content was generally good natured, it could easily lead to bullying and had to be monitored closely. We helped our client determine what they could do to limit its effects and advised them to create a a policy about social media use in their school.