Social Media For Higher Education: The Ultimate Guide

Navigating social media in higher education presents unique challenges, even for seasoned marketing managers. Balancing academic integrity with engaging content can feel like a tightrope walk.

This guide offers practical solutions tailored to the distinct landscape of higher education. You will learn to blend your expertise in social media with strategies that resonate specifically in academic settings.

In this article, you will discover:

  • Tailored approaches for social media success in higher education.
  • Techniques to foster meaningful engagement with academic audiences.
  • Metrics and methods to gauge and improve your social media impact.

Embark on a journey to master the nuances of social media in the world of academia.

What role does social media play in higher education?

In higher education just like in other industries, social media isn’t just a marketing channel, it’s about building trust with your audience.

Ashley Budd, Senior Marketing Manager at Cornell University uses the trust triangle in her higher education marketing communications: authenticity, empathy, and logic.

Authenticity sits at the top of this trust triangle. It’s about being honest and showing your human side on social media. This includes expressing genuine emotions, something as simple as using emojis can help convey the right tone and connect on a more personal level. It’s not just about what you say, but how you say it, making your messages feel more human and less institutional.

Empathy forms another angle of the triangle. It’s about showing your audience that you understand and care about their needs and experiences. Whether it’s sharing important dates for better planning or aligning messages with their interests, every communication should feel like it’s meant to help and support them. This approach ensures your audience knows that your institution’s messages are sent with their best interests at heart.

Logic is the final angle, ensuring that your communication makes sense. It’s about clarity and ease of understanding. Your audience shouldn’t have to wonder why they are receiving a message or what their next steps should be. Clear, logical communication helps reduce cognitive load and makes it easier for them to engage with your content.

Incorporating these elements into your social media strategy can dramatically increase engagement and trust.

For example, using emojis not just as a style choice but as a tool to enhance communication effectiveness. Emojis in headers or key messages can help audiences skim information quickly, understand the tone (like identifying humor), and highlight important points.

Resisting modern communication trends, like avoiding emojis, can mean missing out on opportunities to connect more effectively with your audience. Institutions that embrace these aspects in their social media strategy can create more engaging, relatable, and effective communications.

In conclusion, social media in higher education should focus on building a trusting relationship with the audience, using authenticity, empathy, and logic. This approach ensures that every piece of communication not only conveys information but also strengthens the connection with your community.

Setting goals and objectives

When colleges and universities use social media, they need to have clear goals. What do they want to achieve? It’s not just about posting pictures or news. Every post should have a purpose.

Here are some goals they might have:

  • To get more students to know about the school.
  • To make current students feel like they’re part of a big community.
  • To keep alumni (people who graduated) connected and interested in the school.
  • To show off the cool things students and teachers are doing.

It’s also important to pick goals that match what the school is all about. For example, if a college is known for its art program, they might share student artwork on Instagram. If another school is famous for its science research, they might post about their latest discoveries.

Every social media post should help reach these goals. If a post doesn’t help, maybe it shouldn’t be shared. This helps make sure that every post is useful and interesting for the people who see it.

In short, setting goals for social media helps schools and colleges make sure they are sharing the right things. It makes their social media more useful and more fun for everyone.

Choosing the right social media platforms

Finding the best social media platforms for schools and colleges is like picking the right tools for a job. Each one has its own strengths and is good for different things. It’s important to choose platforms where students and alumni are most active and engaged.

Here’s a look at some key platforms and what they’re best for:

  • Instagram: Great for showing campus life through photos and short videos. It captures the fun and spirit of the school.
  • TikTok: This is where you can be really creative with short, fun videos. It’s perfect for reaching younger students who love engaging, entertaining content.
  • Snapchat: Ideal for quick, casual updates and behind-the-scenes glimpses of campus life. It’s a hit with students for its spontaneity and fun filters.
  • YouTube: Excellent for longer videos like lectures, campus tours, or student projects. It’s a platform where you can dive deeper into topics and showcase the school’s academic side.

Schools don’t have to stick to just one platform. They can mix and match based on what they want to share. For example, Instagram can show the vibrant life on campus, while YouTube can be used for educational content and in-depth stories.

The trick is knowing where different groups like to hang out online. Younger students might be all over TikTok and Snapchat, while others might prefer Instagram or YouTube. It’s about being where your audience is.

To sum up, picking the right social media platforms means understanding each platform’s strengths and matching them with your content. This way, schools can share the right stories in the right places and connect with their audience effectively.

Content creation and curation

Making and choosing the right content for social media is super important for schools. It’s all about finding and sharing stuff that students and alumni will love and connect with.

Here’s how schools can do it right:

  1. Be Real and Relatable: Share real stories from campus. This could be anything from a day in the life of a student to cool projects they are working on. Real stories make students and alumni feel connected to the school.
  2. Keep It Fun and Interesting: Use fun videos, cool facts, and interesting stories. This keeps students interested and makes them want to see more.
  3. Show Off Success: Whether it’s a student winning an award or a team doing well in a competition, showing success makes everyone feel proud to be part of the school.
  4. Teach Something New: Share fun facts or mini-lessons. It’s a cool way to keep learning going outside the classroom.
  5. Ask Questions and Get Feedback: It’s not just about sharing. Ask questions or run polls. It’s a great way to get students to talk back and get involved.

Curating content is also key. This means choosing the best stuff to share. Schools can mix their own posts with interesting things from others, like news about education or cool science discoveries. It’s all about sharing things that add value and make students think or smile.

In short, creating and curating content for social media in higher education means mixing fun, facts, and real stories. It’s about keeping students engaged, proud, and connected to their school.

Engagement and community building

Building a community on social media is crucial for schools and colleges. It’s all about creating conversations and a sense of belonging among students and alumni.

Here’s how to do it effectively:

  1. Start Conversations: Post topics that spark discussions, like questions about campus life or recent events. The aim is to encourage students and alumni to engage and share their views.
  2. Highlight Your Community: Share stories of students, faculty, and alumni. Showcasing their achievements and experiences helps everyone feel recognized and part of the school’s story.
  3. Leverage Student Ambassador Programs: Use programs where students help spread the word about your school on social media. You can reward them with things like free classes, books, or gift cards. They create content that shows real campus life, which is more relatable and engaging.
  4. Host Online Events: Organize virtual events like Q&As with professors or online campus tours. These events can be interactive and bring the community together.
  5. Encourage and Utilize UGC: Get students and alumni to share their photos, stories, or experiences. This could include their favorite moments on campus, achievements, or how the school has impacted their lives. This content feels genuine and resonates well with the audience. When using UGC, highlight it in your regular posts, feature it in stories, or create special segments like “Student Spotlights” or “Alumni Achievements.”

Responding and engaging with the community is also important. When people comment or ask questions, make sure to reply promptly. This demonstrates that the school is attentive and values its community’s input.

In essence, building a community on social media in higher education involves initiating meaningful conversations, celebrating community members, harnessing the power of student ambassadors, and effectively using authentic content from the community itself.

Make the most of student ambassador programs

Student ambassador programs are an effective way for universities to enhance their social media presence. These programs aren’t just for a few select students; they’re open to everyone, creating a diverse and vibrant community of campus fans.

Here’s how universities can make the most of these programs:

  1. Open Participation: Allow all students to join and become ambassadors. This inclusivity ensures a wide range of perspectives and experiences are shared.
  2. Identify Top Fans with Spitche: Use tech-enabled services like Spitche to identify who your top fans are, both at the school and beyond. Spitche helps track which students are most engaged and enthusiastic about promoting the school.
  3. Implement a Points System: Set up a system where students earn points for engaging with your social media content. Activities like liking, commenting, and sharing posts, or creating their own UGC, can all earn points.
  4. Reward Engagement: Offer incentives for accumulating points. Rewards could range from school merchandise to exclusive opportunities or experiences. This encourages ongoing participation and content creation.
  5. Leverage UGC: Encourage students to create their own content about their experiences and perspectives. This UGC is authentic and relatable, making it highly effective for engaging with a broader audience.
  6. Boost Organic Reach: Universities using Spitche and similar programs have seen significant results. We’ve seen 30% month-over-month increase in organic reach, showcasing the effectiveness of these ambassador programs in amplifying social media presence.

By utilizing student ambassador programs and leveraging solutions like Spitche, universities can significantly enhance their social media engagement and reach. It’s a strategy that not only promotes the institution but also fosters a strong sense of community and pride among students.

student ambassador program

Social media for events and announcements

Social media is a powerful tool for schools and colleges to spread the word about events and important news. It’s all about getting the right information to students and alumni in a way that’s easy and fun.

Here’s how to do it well:

  1. Promote Events Creatively: Whether it’s a guest speaker, a sports game, or a campus festival, use social media to create excitement. Post eye-catching images, fun videos, or interesting facts about the event. You can even create event pages or countdowns to build anticipation.
  2. Share News in Real-Time: For big events like graduation, use social media to share the experience as it happens. Live-tweeting, stories, or live videos can make people feel like they’re part of the action, even if they’re far away.
  3. Highlight Important Announcements: When there’s something important to share, like enrollment dates or new course offerings, use social media to get the message out. Make these posts clear and easy to understand, and add visuals to make them stand out.
  4. Engage with Follow-Up Content: After an event, keep the conversation going. Share photos, videos, or recaps of what happened. Ask followers to share their own photos and experiences too. This helps create a sense of community and keeps people talking about the event.
  5. Use Student Ambassadors for Wider Reach: Encourage student ambassadors to share and create content about events and announcements. Their genuine excitement and personal touch can make the promotion more effective and relatable.

By using social media smartly for events and announcements, schools can make sure their students and alumni are always in the loop and excited about what’s happening on campus.

Paid social vs organic social strategies

In the world of social media for schools and colleges, there are two main ways to reach people: paid social and organic social. Understanding how to use both can really help schools connect with students and alumni.

Organic Social Media:

  • These are posts you don’t pay to promote. It includes regular updates, photos, stories, and everything you share for free.
  • Organic social is great for building a community and keeping people engaged over time. It’s about sharing real, relatable content like student stories, campus life, and event updates.
  • Using student ambassador programs can boost your organic reach. When students share and interact with your posts, it helps more people see them.

Paid Social Media:

  • Paid social means you pay to get your posts seen by more people. This can be ads, sponsored posts, or boosted posts.
  • It’s useful for reaching a larger audience quickly, especially for big announcements or special events.
  • When you use data from student ambassadors, like in programs powered by Spitche, you can make your paid ads more personal and effective. This means better results for the money you spend.

Balancing these two strategies is key. Organic social helps keep your current community engaged and happy, while paid social can help you reach new students and spread important news further.

In summary, using both paid and organic social media in the right way can help schools and colleges make the most of their social media, reaching and engaging their audience effectively.

Measuring and monitoring impact

For schools and colleges, tracking the success of social media efforts is crucial. Knowing what to measure and which tools to use can make a big difference.

Key Metrics to Track:

  1. Engagement Metrics: This includes likes, comments, shares, and overall interaction rates. These metrics show how much people are interacting with your content.
  2. Reach and Impressions: These numbers tell you how many people are seeing your posts.
  3. Follower Growth: Tracking how your follower count changes over time can indicate how well you’re attracting new audiences.
  4. Click-Through Rates: If you’re sharing links, see how many people are actually clicking on them.
  5. Conversion Rates: For posts aimed at driving actions (like applying to a program), measure how effectively they’re converting interest into action.

Tools for Tracking:

  • Social Media Platforms’ Own Analytics: Most platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have built-in analytics tools that provide these metrics.
  • Google Analytics: Useful for tracking website traffic from social media posts.
  • Spitche: A comprehensive tool especially useful for managing student ambassador programs. With Spitche, you can have a dashboard that tracks:
    • Ambassador activities and points.
    • Engagement metrics.
    • Rewards chosen by ambassadors.
    • Detailed first-party data like email, names, birthdays, social media usernames, phone numbers, and addresses.
    • Purchase data and custom fields for unique insights.
    • App/website visits and user behavior data collected through cookies and other tracking technologies.

This wealth of data from Spitche not only helps in understanding the effectiveness of your ambassador programs but also provides invaluable insights for personalizing campaigns and enhancing overall strategy.

By regularly monitoring these metrics and using effective tools like Spitche, schools can gain a clear picture of their social media performance, adjust strategies as needed, and make informed decisions to enhance their online presence.

Challenges and risks in social media for higher education

Using social media in higher education can come with its own set of challenges and risks. Knowing what these are and how to handle them is key for schools to keep their online presence strong and safe.

Common Challenges and Solutions:

  1. Maintaining Privacy: Be careful with personal data. Always get consent before sharing stories or photos of students or staff. Privacy is a big deal, and respecting it helps build trust.
  2. Staying Relevant: Keeping up with trends while staying true to your school’s values can be tough. The key is balance – be open to new ideas but always think about whether they fit with your school’s image.
  3. Dealing with Negative Feedback: Not all comments will be positive. Respond to criticism professionally and learn from it. If something serious comes up, like bullying or misinformation, address it quickly and responsibly.
  4. Consistent Messaging Across Platforms: Make sure your message is clear and consistent across all platforms. Different teams might handle different platforms, so regular communication and a shared strategy are important.
  5. Using Data Responsibly: With tools like Spitche, you have access to a lot of data. Use this responsibly to respect user privacy and comply with regulations like GDPR.

Risk Management Strategies:

  • Have Clear Policies: Set rules for what’s okay to post and what’s not. This helps everyone who’s posting on behalf of your school stay on the right track.
  • Regular Training: Keep staff and student ambassadors up-to-date on best practices and any new social media guidelines.
  • Monitor Activity: Keep an eye on your social media accounts. Tools like Spitche can help with this, giving you a dashboard to track engagement and spot any issues early.
  • Engage with Your Audience Responsibly: When interacting with followers, keep it professional and respectful. This builds a positive online environment.

By addressing these challenges and implementing effective risk management strategies, schools can ensure their social media presence is not only engaging but also secure and respectful of their community.

Next steps for social media for higher education

We’ve explored a lot about using social media in higher education. From choosing the right platforms to engaging with student ambassador programs, it’s clear that social media is a powerful tool for schools and colleges.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Balancing Authenticity and Strategy: Remember to keep your content real and relatable, while also being strategic about what you post.
  2. Leveraging Student Ambassadors: Programs like those supported by Spitche can significantly boost your organic reach and engagement.
  3. Measuring Success: Use tools to track important metrics like engagement, reach, and conversion rates to see how well your strategies are working.

Next Steps: Now that you understand the basics of managing social media in higher education, the next step could be to delve deeper into advanced digital marketing strategies. This could include exploring targeted advertising, content marketing, or even data analytics to further enhance your school’s online presence and engagement.

Social media in higher education isn’t just about posting updates; it’s about creating a community, sharing experiences, and building a digital space that reflects the spirit and values of your institution.

student ambassador program