At SocialB, we’ve had the great privilege of being able to train and work alongside a number of universities and educational organisations.
We’ve also noticed that there’s lots of information out there about how well universities are doing on social media, but most are based on the sizes of their communities and algorithms which claim to show how engaged these accounts are.
But beyond fans and followers, who’s really thinking about their objectives in recruiting students and helping them after enrolment?
Sadly a lot of university social media accounts are used as additional channels for news and PR-related items. Content is broadcast and one-way in nature, without much thought of the intended audiences and how to engage with them.
When students ask questions on these channels, the conversation is lost among the PR tweets and handled by staff who haven’t got the answers or the time to deal with these properly.
Which is why we really like @askphoenix on twitter, at last a university looking at providing good customer service and staffing a dedicated account to handle student and prospective student enquiries.
@askphoenix also do a great job at social listening, being able to help in conversations that are relevant to them:
In the UK, Coventry University has been getting into the education headlines for all the right reasons. The former polytechnic has risen up the league tables, dislodging universities usually better known for academic achievement. They also did well in HEFCE’s National Student Survey, therefore it should be no surprise that they encourage, share and reshare lots of student content on their platforms including Instagram and Twitter.
Student’s thoughts, advice and testimonial are captured through a range of methods including video and guest blogging and students are also encouraged to share experiences through their own social media using the hashtag #CUbelieve.
One of the biggest challenges for any university is not a lack of content but an overwhelming glut of information, updates and events from departments and staff all vying for the same attention on social media. Many universities enable their departments and staff to have their own accounts and connect and engage with their students.
We liked the University of Exeter’s approach in listing all their social media accounts on their website. The Business School also created a twitter list on its account where students can see the updates from university staff:
One of the main problems for any university is the diversity of its student audience. Cranfield University, which has a post-graduate focus, has developed its Linkedin “company” page with its students’ diversity in mind. Most of its students are mature and many of them are also in work, which makes Linkedin an ideal platform for the university to engage in.
As well as posting on its page timeline, Cranfield University has used showcase pages to segment its student audience by industry sector. The sectors are relevant to the university’s main areas of study and research and include Aerospace to Agrifood.
As social media develops, so does its audiences and young people are early adopters of new platforms and functionality.
2015 has seen increased development and interest in video streaming platforms such as Meerkat, Periscope and Blab.
At SocialB HQ, we were thrilled to see universities like Falmouth using tools such as Periscope to effectively enhance the experience of prospective students, through the live streaming of open days. Falmouth, Manchester and Essex universities were among a group of innovators streaming talks, tours and interviews.
With Blab offering multi-person live streaming, it will be interesting to see who the early adopters are and how they use it effectively for student engagement.
Have you seen a university connecting well with its students on social media? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below, or join us on Twitter.
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