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Keeping Up With Social Media – Latest Changes and What They May Mean for Your College

Date posted: December 4, 2013

Social media platforms are constantly tweaking their layout, terms of services, or features. This HEM series is meant to help you make sense of these changes in a higher ed context to better leverage them for your college’s social media marketing strategy.

Facebook Newsfeed to Focus on “High Quality Content”

This week, Facebook has announced tweaks to its newsfeed algorithm. The social network presented research in October showing that traffic from the social network to news sites had increased by 170% in just a year. Based on that, Facebook has decided to focus primarily on great content, and especially on news articles and current events. “We’ll be doing a better job of distinguishing between high-quality articles on a website versus a meme photo”. Facebook will also suggest related content when offering news pieces.

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Status updates and image-based content that had been at the center of recent changes will no longer be as important. Many critics have shared their concern that Facebook is trying to please companies that are willing to pay to boost their content and is killing the very principle of a social aspect of the platform.

What does this mean for your college’s presence on Facebook?

This shift toward high quality and popular content means that, more than ever, schools will need to draft and share great content on the platform. This small shift is a move away from the focus on images and visual content and new step toward meaningful content. Although pictures will continue to foster engagement, the importance of content strategy and development around a blog built on your school website will certainly continue to be the best bet to reach your college’s audience on Facebook. Colleges will also continue to strive to create engagement on Facebook.

LinkedIn launches Showcase Pages

Last week, the professional social network launched a new type of pages that allows companies to highlight specific brands while strengthening relationships with the right audience: the Showcase Pages.

Showcase pages are pages entirely dedicated to specific products. They enable companies to share content pertaining to this product, and clients to only follow products they are truly interested in. Showcase pages work just as like Company pages. Followers only interested by one product will be able to follow that product only, receiving only the latest news on the subject in their LinkedIn feed.

Visually, the new pages are quite astounding. Here is the Microsoft page that LinkedIn has offered as an example. It features a cover image highlighting a specific product, a call to action or a hashtag. It includes a description of the specific product, as well as a link at the top to your company page.

 HEM - LinkedIn Showcase Pages

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 What does it mean for your college?

This new page is clearly targeting companies with distinctive products and audiences they may want to engage with. So how could it be of interest to your college?

Earlier this year, LinkedIn launched a page type specifically crafted for higher ed: the University page.  They were meant to help career-focused students find the right school and connect them with the school’s community. Many smaller colleges have not created a University page as they feel their community may be too small and may not bear comparison with larger colleges. On the other hand, large universities that do have a University page may feel that these pages do not help with one of their main issues: help each faculty engage with its specific audience by creating content that cater to them without diluting the original brand of the university.

Showcase Pages could be a good complement to University Pages for large universities or affiliated schools with very specific brands and an interesting replacement for career colleges that offer a wide array of programs and wish to make a specific effort to promote one of their programs. Your school could, for instance, use these pages to share industry news or job offers pertaining to one specific type of program/faculty. Showcase pages’ slick look can be a tool to attract a very specific kind of students or to brand a new program or a course that needs an extra push.

Be aware that Showcase Pages need to be updated regularly with relevant content for their particular audiences. Remember that you will need to create and share different updates from the ones on your company page, which may be time-consuming. But if you clearly identify your key programs, audiences, and messages through a tight LinkedIn strategy, it may be a great tool to help you boost enrolment. 

How do you think these changes will affect your social media activities?