With a new school year quickly approaching, now is a great time for higher education marketing professionals to establish, freshen up or re-evaluate their social media strategy.
The most successful social media sites will offer 1-4 updates to their smartphone apps every month. This means that the marketing teams behind these sites are constantly trying to come up with the next best idea for their audiences, so why shouldn’t you be doing the same thing with your social channels?
Don’t know where to start? We’re here to help.
1. Establish Your Goals
The first step that comes with tweaking your social media strategy is to define your goals. What exactly is it that you’re trying to accomplish with your social media accounts?
Examples for common goals that higher education marketers may have include:
- Bringing awareness to the university through social media pages
- Increasing the follower count for social media pages
- Increasing the enrollment count for a specific program at the university
- Increasing the number of student leads through social media pages
Now, Get More Specific
It’s common for higher education marketers to have multiple goals for their social media pages. To sift through each of your goals and properly evaluate your results, we recommend giving each goal a specific time interval as well as realistic projected numbers to go with it.
We’ve tweaked the above examples to include goals that are more specific and in-depth:
- Bring awareness to the university through our Facebook and Snapchat mobile apps.
- Increase the follower count for the university’s Facebook page from 2,000 to 6,500 by December 2016.
- Increase the enrollment count for a specific program at the university by 20 percent by January 2017.
- Increase the amount of student leads through social media pages by 30 percent by March 2017.
By giving your goals specific times, numbers and end dates, you will be able to better set a timeline for your social media tactics and categorize your results.
2. Create Video Content
No matter what your goals are, video content has proven itself as a trend that’s here to stay. By 2019, it’s predicted that up to 80 percent of internet traffic will be from videos, meaning that the best time to jump on the video train is now.
Both edited, high-quality videos as well as live, real-time footage have been successful for higher education marketers looking to freshen up their social media pages with unique posts. There are many directions that marketers can take when utilizing video, based on factors such as their goals, budget, marketing team, etc.
The following rundown contains ideas that have been used in many successful higher education social media campaigns:
- Hyperlapse: This free app allows users to easily create time-lapse videos that can speed footage up to 12x the original speed. The app stabilizes your footage to smooth out any shakiness that may have occurred during filming and you can choose how fast the time-lapse occurs.Applying Hyperlapse to Higher Education Marketing: Capture students walking through campus, post footage of a sunrise on campus, show a graduation time-lapse, etc.
- Boomerang: Boomerang is another free app that provides short, looped video footage. The app offers more than a GIF because when filming it instantly takes 10 photos at once and plays the footage backwards and forwards and creates a quick video.Applying Boomerang to Higher Education Marketing: Film a student flipping through a textbook, a professor teaching a lecture, etc.
- Facebook Live: Another video resource taking social media by storm is Facebook Live. Facebook now gives you the ability to post a video on the site directly as it’s happening. Your followers will receive a notification that you’re positing live and have the opportunity to comment on the video as it airs. You’ll be able to track who’s viewing your video and where they’re watching from.Applying Facebook Live to Higher Education Marketing: Film a speaker on campus, at an on-campus event or mixer, etc.
- 360 Videos: Facebook also allows its users to film a 360 video that gives viewers the footage of your video from all angles. Viewers simply have to drag their finger on the video or turn their device to watch footage from any angle they wish.Applying Facebook 360 to Higher Education Marketing: Give a virtual 360 degree tour of a classroom, show real-time footage in the campus library, etc.
Once you’ve decided which type of video footage will work best for your social channels, take them to the next level by offering the following features:
- Subtitles: 85 percent of Facebook users watch videos without sound. By adding subtitles to your videos, you’re compelling viewers to not scroll past your video because they can fully understand the message of your video without having to turn the sound on.
- Optimize for Auto-Play: Auto-play is a feature that multiple social networks offer so that your video will automatically start playing as viewers scroll down their smartphone and computer screens. This encourages users to watch your video all the way through, since it’s already started, which in turn increases your view count.
- Create How-to Videos: How-to videos that explain easy content are popular on social media right now. Use how-to videos to educate viewers on ideas such as the best studying methods or ways to keep organized during college
3. Use Student-Curated Content
If you don’t have the time, budget or equipment to film video or take photos of your campus, there’s an easy solution: student-curated content. Students are always sharing photos on social media, and will continue to do so as they walk through your campus, attend classes and ultimately spend more time at your university.
Find published photos that your own students have taken by searching for your university’s hashtags on Instagram and Twitter, and by searching for your campus’ location on Instagram. Generally, students will be keeping up with the latest and greatest editing apps and will offer high-quality content, which makes your job as a higher education marketing manager that much easier.
If you choose to repost one of their photos or videos to your university’s social media pages, just be sure to give them credit.
4. Utilize Snapchat
Remember, 63 percent of the users on Snapchat are between the ages of 18-34, making it a great social network to take advantage of when marketing for higher education. Photos on Snapchat disappear after 24 hours, giving your university the chance to consistently post new, fresh content.
There are many ways to reach higher education students through this social network, including:
- Snapchat Stories: Students who follow your account on Snapchat can view your Story that will be visible for 24 hours. You can put whatever you want into your Story and students can watch it as many times as they want, so get creative.Kelly Bennett, social media manager for Miami University, takes advantage of Miami’s Snap Story by bringing awareness to campus events through her Stories. Every Monday, she posts pictures of flyers from on-campus events, calling it a Snapchat newsletter. Due to this, students are able to stay informed about campus events, screenshot her posts, and communicate with Miami University directly on Snapchat.
- Student Takeovers: Miami University has also engaged in Snapchat student takeovers, meaning that if a student is somewhere on campus or even studying abroad, the student can receive the log-in information for the account and directly post photos and videos to the university’s Story. This gives your Story some fresh scenery and takes your typical Snapchat content to an out-of-the-box level.
- Live-snapping: Live-snapping is the new version of Twitter’s live-tweeting. A staff member can post photos and videos from an event directly to your university’s Story, showing students the best footage from that event and even inspiring them to attend.
- Filters: An aspect of Snapchat that is popular with students is the available filters the app has to offer. Anyone can create a geo-location filter that only shows up when Snapchat users are on your campus. One way to take filters to the next level is to also create a custom geofilter or Lenses for a specific event on campus, such as graduation, that will only appear for that day.On average, users will play with Snapchat Lenses for 20 seconds and a geofilter can reach up to 60 percent of daily Snapchat users.
5. Gain a Following on Instagram
Another wildly popular social media app enjoyed by Millennials is Instagram, which is used on a daily basis by 49 percent of its 18 to 29-year-old users. This gives higher education marketers looking to increase their following on social media a chance to post about happenings around campus, advertise programs that are currently enrolling, share content posted by students and more.
Ways to gain traction on Instagram and increase your following include:
- Use Consistent Hashtags: By using a consistent set of hashtags and encouraging your followers to do the same with their university-related photos, you can easily sift through student-curated content. Interact with your students by liking or commenting on their photos on your university account to help form a bond and sense of loyalty.
- Post About Campus Events: Instagram is a great resource to advertise your on-campus event because you can post photos and videos before, during and after the event. When people see your event on a social network they trust, they’ll be more inclined to attend.
- Use High-Quality Photos: Posting photos that are high-quality and have aesthetically-pleasing filters (included on the Instagram app) will make your photos stand out in the sea of photos a student sees on their home feed.
- Post Diverse Content: There’s way more to post on Instagram than just a photo of a student sitting in a classroom. Post a close-up of of a building on campus, content from a student studying abroad, food available at the dining hall, etc. Get creative and think outside the box about what you can post that students would be inclined to ‘like’.
- Become an Instagram ‘Business’ Account: It’s easy to set up your university’s profile as a business, and doing so will give you a plethora of resources. These resources include insight into the impressions, reach and engagement your photos have received, as well as your top posts and the peak times that your followers are on Instagram.
Let Us Help You Today!
As you can see, there are plenty of ways for higher education marketers to use social media in fun, creative manners. From Snapchat to Hyperlapse and everything in between, there are many chances for you to make your university stand out from others.
If you aren’t sure which direction to take your university’s social media accounts, we would be glad to help you craft a social media strategy, recommend content to post on your social channels, and more.
Schedule your free strategy session with our team here.
Find out more about our higher education services here.