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  • Writer's pictureMcKenna Wilson

3 Crucial Tips For Managing University Social Media

Practicing good public relations in the field of higher education can be difficult. College students are spread thin between classes, internships, and extracurriculars, and connecting with them is tough. While you want to have a solid marketing effort for your organization, it’s often tricky to capture students’ attention—let alone keep it. So, say you’re the marketing manager for a college or university, trying to improve your recruitment efforts. Perhaps you’re the secretary or chair for a specific department or major on your campus, wanting to raise awareness of department events. Or maybe you’re even a college student, trying to boost attendance at Earth Club meetings. Whatever your position, you have goals you’re trying to accomplish—and there’s probably this little nagging question in mind: Should I be using social media to connect with our students?

The answer is a resounding yes! More than 98% of college-aged students use social media regularly, according to a study from consumer insight group Experian Simmons. In fact, Social Media Today reports that the average person spends at least two hours a day on social media. So whether you’re a social media newbie or you’re just trying to spice up a boring profile, you can rest assured that the students you’re trying to reach are there and waiting for your content.

Maybe this isn’t news to you, and you’ve already got your accounts lined up. Perhaps you even have a decent following. If you’re reading this blog post, though, chances are that you’ve hit a standstill with growth or you’re not getting the engagement you’ve dreamed of. Regardless of your experience, here are a few tactics every college social media manager needs to consider when evaluating their efforts.

1. Provide Value

Stop! Remove your finger from the “Post” button. Is the content you’ve created worth something? What does this content provide to the student? Do your students care about research assistant opportunities or free pizza? While the answer may be both, it is crucial to be strategic about the kinds of content you are posting. You could have the most beautiful and aesthetically pleasing feed on the planet, but if your audience doesn’t feel that their desires are being met, your presence will only fade from their minds. 

Not sure what your students care about? You’re not alone. Lucky for you, the great people over at SEO-e Blog have some answers. In a nationwide scholarship contest, they asked college students to submit their response to the following question: “What type of social media presence do you expect from your college/university?” The answers were incredibly insightful. Here’s a sample of them:

“I looked towards Instagram to see what types of clubs and programs the college has in order to determine if this college will blend with my personality… The main way I hear about events happening at [my school] is through Facebook or Instagram.” - Melissa Lombardo, San Diego State University

“You expect [the accounts] to be neat, organized, grammatically correct, entertaining in some respects, regularly posted (up to date), and many other things. For a college in today’s world to be in the aspect of social media, they have to keep a controversial free social media presence in many different platforms.” - Breanna Barker, California Polytechnic State University

“I expect advertising for events and activities occurring on campus and around the community. I expect to see posts from them several times a week, and I expect their stories on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat almost daily with important reminders and, on the days when no crucial information needs relaying, fun and exciting posts about campus life, faculty, and students.” - Rebecca Kelley, West Chester University

2. Scheduling is Key

Several of the students from the SEO-e blog study suggested that consistent posting was crucial to the success of a university-affiliated social media account. Whether it’s every day, three times a week, or something else, be sure to set a schedule each month and plan your posts ahead of time. This will aid not only in figuring out what to post, but also in boosting your account’s engagement. Because of Instagram’s funky algorithm, posts that are infrequent or irregular may not always be shown to many of your followers. 

While you may feel pressured to flood your feed with posts to increase your presence, remember tip #1: never post something that does not provide value. If you find yourself posting “fluff” content or repeating the same topics over and over, think about what you can do to find new topics that will interest your followers. If you annoy your followers, they will leave. Remember: work smarter, not harder. Three thoughtful, valuable posts a week will do far more good than one lazy post every day.

3. Utilize Stories and Get Creative

Are your posts not getting the attention you think they deserve? Is the aforementioned algorithm lowering your impressions? Consider utilizing Instagram and Facebook stories. Over 60% of millennial and Gen-Z Instagram users view stories daily, according to a study done by VidMob. Another study by Social Bakers found that Instagram stories account for nearly one-fifth of all Instagram impressions. Stories are a great way to alert users of your recent posts and redirect them to your profile, which can help overcome struggles with the algorithm. 

Stories are also a great avenue for creativity, playfulness, and user engagement. With the ability to use stickers, add text and gifs, and even insert polls or quizzes, stories allow for a more fun, casual type of content that college-age users love. And because stories disappear after 24 hours, you can get away with posting more frequently than you normally would with traditional posts because it won’t crowd your followers’ feeds. If you want to take your story posts to the next level, add a few highlights to your profile. It’s an easy way to brand your account and can actually help you to think of more story content in the future.

Whatever stage your college’s social media presence is in, there is always room for growth. By providing value on a consistent schedule, and by using formats that boost engagement—such as stories—you’re bound to see the growth your university organization desires.

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