Although colleges are educational institutions, they are also businesses. As a business in the 21st Century, school’s should use social media to engage online communities interested in what the school has to offer.

Unfortunately, many schools fail to use social media as an effective tool to engage their student body, embolden staff or connect with prospective students.

To help improve your social media efforts, here are 4 ways that your college can do social media better…

1. Have A Goal In Mind

First, you will need to decide on a goal. Consider what ways social media can benefit your school’s overall marketing strategy or mission.

  • Do you want to grow your college’s digital presence online?
  • Do you want prospective students to choose your college for a specific field or specialization?
  • Do you want to engage your current student body by connecting them to resources and information that would improve their student life experience?

Your college should consider these questions when trying to implement an effective social media campaign. If your college does not have established social media goals, consider using the S.M.A.R.T Method to develop clearly articulated and actionable goals.

Once your social media goals are established, you can determine benchmarks that will serve as a guide to the success of your social media efforts. For instance, if your goal is to improve the student life experience, consider developing engaging content such as videos and image-laden blogs focused on highlighting the greatest concerns of your student body. The response and feedback your content receives – which you can collect in various ways – will help you determine success or failure of your efforts.

2. Don’t Work Alone – Be Social with Social Media!

Leverage the “social” aspect of social media. Work in conjunction with your stakeholders – students, staff and administrators, and so on – and incorporate them into the content creation process. Make your stakeholders part of the campus story. Highlight student organizations, staff and faculty. Create contests with the help of student clubs and organizations.

Also, consider working with the departments on campus who have their own social media platforms. Cross-promote their content. Develop contests and giveaways in conjunction with these other departments. Consider working with the campus newspaper and research community. For great visual content, work with students taking classes in photography and graphic design. (These students would love to help their school – for a little recognition, of course!)

3. Don’t Just Post – Add Value!

Meaningful content will provide value. And if you produce content that is meaningful to your online community, your efforts will be rewarded with an increase in followers and a better quality of overall engagement.

To add this value, you need to understand your stakeholders – students, faculty and staff, etc. – and their needs. While this understanding can be accomplished by handing out surveys or conducting census groups on campus, you should also take advantage of the many online listening tools to gain greater insight into their needs.

For example, you might discover that your school is not providing adequate transportation for students. You can then take that information and search for a resolution by making this issue known to the transportation department on campus or by providing information that will help students find alternative transportation opportunities, such as an Uber-style transportation system on campus.

4. Get Visual

We are visual beings, so a large portion of your posts should have visual content. Engaging images for your social media platforms are not difficult to find. Opportunities to create great images for your posts are all around you, such as posting images of your campus. Even though your college may not be as scenic as others, your campus still has something that would appeal to your audience.

Also, don’t forget what I said earlier and enlist the help of students to generate visual content. Your students are already taking photos. Why not have them help you in your efforts? Stop by the visual arts, graphic design or photography departments. These departments are bound to have students filled with enough school spirit to assist you. The images you receive do not need to be highly professional, just well taken and tasteful. Consider using online apps to create quick, easy and stunning visual images. Applications such as Wordswag, Haiku Deck and Canva can help you create stunning images in minutes.

Using any of these methods will help you take your campus social media presence to the next level.

Now, tell me what tips do you have that would help colleges use social media better?

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