Social media is a valuable tool for any brand, but universities in particular should look no further when it comes to making themselves relevant, driving student recruitment and growing their reputation.
The correct online voice shouldn’t be underestimated for opening up lines of communication for current and prospective students, staff, partners and alumni.
But like any powerful tools, social media needs to be used in the correct way – as mistakes could cost you dearly.
These are some classic errors which should be avoided…..
Staying away from swear words or inappropriate comments is not enough. You should also avoid being too negative, aggressive, insensitive or rude.
Keep the tone polite and appropriate. This doesn’t mean you can’t show a sense of humour or show a bias towards your university and its partners. But don’t attack competitors, or react defensively to criticism. This will give an unprofessional impression.
With this in mind, it’s important to keep a consistent tone, even when operating multiple accounts. So it’s worth appointing a main administrator to use a tool such as Hootsuite, and to limit numbers when it comes to the ability to post.
But this leads to the next point…
It may save time to post the same thing across multiple platforms or accounts, but your audience will find this bland or, even worse, irrelevant. Research partners won’t be interested in the same issues as your prospective students, or even your alumni.
A social media strategy is essential to plan for each audience. Tailor posts and provide the best content for those you will be engaging with. Again this is where management tools such as Hootsuite will come in handy, to target the right information to the correct audience.
You wouldn’t blank someone who asks you a question during a conversation – so don’t do it online.
Social media starts a conversation for you and your audience. Not responding when someone addresses you is a missed opportunity to get your message out there, or connect with your public.
Eventually your followers will come to realise you are unresponsive, and like any one-sided conversation they will stop including you in the conversation.
Failure to hashtag
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ invite users to adopt relevant hashtags to help others find content.
Failing to use them means your words just get lost in a constant stream of information. There’s no point talking over the neverending noise of online chatter.
Adopt the relevant hashtags and followers will know that you are saying something they want to hear – and that it’s worth their while joining your conversation.
Equally, you can tag connections on Twitter by using @ followed by their username, or if you follow each other on Facebook you can name them in your posts – to invite them to contribute.
Extended periods of silence on social media will result in your followers wandering away, assuming you have nothing to talk about. Posting interesting and relevant content every day is vital for social media marketing to be effective.
This is another example of when Hootsuite or TweetDeck come in useful, helping you schedule posts for days in advance.
But be careful not to rely solely on these tools. Being around to react to current affairs and connect your university’s work to topical issues, or to answer messages, means your audience will know you’re there and they won’t feel like they are talking to an answering machine.
Posting for the sake of it can be just as bad as staying silent. Your followers are interested in what your university has to say on relevant topics. Funny pictures or videos to fill the void will only teach an audience not to take you seriously.
While your content should be original whenever possible, there is no shame in presenting older posts, especially if they are about an issue which has once again become topical.
And remember that you don’t always have to start the conversation – you can join in with others. Networking with others in your field by curating and sharing their content can help kickstart online debates and build important connections with other institutions or individuals.
For all of your student recruitment and university marketing needs, call us on 0800 612 9890.