Social Media offers Universities a unique opportunity to reach out, engage students and market to potential students; studies show that they are spending their time on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Here are 5 best practices for Universities using social media:
1. Be on the right networks
Before deciding which networks you should be on, first you need to research your target audience. Before even considering creating a profile on any platform, you must understand where your audience is, after all the basics of marketing is all about being where your audience is, online or offline.
To put this into context, if you sold language courses, you wouldn’t advertise in an Arts & Crafts magazine. Instead, you would analyse the reader demographics and psychographics of each magazine in your sector, in order to determine which magazines will give you the greatest exposure and potential to reach your target audience.
This process should be used by any business or education institution, to determine which social media platforms on which should focus the majority of their efforts.
Your research should be extensive; don’t just cover the obvious platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, look deep into other networks as well, like Pinterest, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Instagram, and even other niche networks like specific discussion forums where is more easy to reach your audience.
2. Deliver valuable content
Social Media is not bragging about how wonderful your University is.
Is about providing value. So although you should talk about your institution and brand, who you are, what you do and what makes you different from the competition, make sure you do it in a way that it provides some kind of value for the students or potential students.
So this means providing a mix of content that solves problems, helps potential students in the decision-making process, sharing tips, news, images, videos, tutorials, etc.
Each University produces already many valuable content offline, just bring that content online and engage your followers with it.
3. Provide an excellent customer service
Since so many University students (and potential students) are actively using social media it is key to provide an excellent customer service here as well.
This doesn’t mean throwing away your other contact methods like the phone or email. It means you need to adjust to the current reality and use it for your own benefit.
Since there are a huge % of social media users asking questions and looking for information, many Universities are using their social media channels to promptly respond to questions and comments.
4. Find and engage with influencers
Universities face a lot of competition nowadays and in a sector where word-of-mouth is key, social media can prove to be a valuable tool to find industry influencers that can help you in your marketing efforts.
In order to really push your social media campaigns forward, you need to have the backing of some of the biggest players in your industry; the movers, the shakers, the thought-leaders, brands and publications that already possess major influence and authority over fan bases bigger than that of your own.
Endorsement from an “online influencer” can have a significant impact on your brand.
So find and engage with media journalists, bloggers and opinion leaders. Help them in helping you.
5. Measure your results
You’re already investing a lot of your time on Social Media, but there’s one thing that you cannot miss if you want to have success on your social media efforts: measure your efforts and results.
For many Universities, the top goals are brand awareness, customer enquiries, website traffic and customer acquisition. So you need to get analytics tools in place to measure the KPI’s based on those goals, both in quantitative and qualitative terms.
Measuring your results will tell you what’s working and what’s not so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.