How to make the “next big social media thing” work in higher education

June 16, 2016
Meghan Roesner Assistant PR/Social Specialist

Just when you think you get it right (or at least, consistent), social media changes on you again.

Social media platforms and audience behaviors change like the seasons. And, just like the weather, those changes can be overwhelming. Every day, social media managers have to navigate algorithms, new platforms, pay-for-play models and shifting audience attention. For some, just keeping up with regular posting is hard enough.

When the next big thing comes along, you might not have time to use it, much less to get it right.  The good news? You can get it right.

Let’s talk about how you can plan your social media management and activity like an editor so you’re ready to tell your story your way … regardless of new platforms, rules or audiences. You’ll be ready to share your story in whichever way you need for the class of 2020, 2021, 2022 and beyond.


Build a foundation of social management

Building and solidifying a foundation for the social media management of your college or university is the same as ensuring your home has a solid foundation. In HGTV terms, you can’t create the master suite of your dreams, complete with walk-in closet, dual vanity and fireplace, if your home doesn’t have a proper foundation to stand on.

  • Start by defining your university’s story. Ask yourself: what does our university stand for? What is our university proud of? What types of students do we attract? What types of students do we want to attract? Identify and define your story so the content you build reflects it.
  • Build a plan around it. Determine the content you want to create. Content is informed by the story. So, ask: How do you want to tell the story of your university? What platforms will you use? Who is your audience? How do you want your audience to experience your story?
  • Then, keep a calendar to plan and schedule your content in advance. This is where that “editor” part comes in. The social media team at Core would suggest you think two months in advance. What deadlines, events, happenings are coming up that you can creatively promote? Planning in advance makes it much easier to manage any and all platforms you are using. It opens up the time in your day to listen to and engage with your audience (hint: this is easy because your content is already created and scheduled). It also allows you to look at what’s working and what isn’t so you can improve the content you are sharing.


Recognize trends

Once you have that foundation built and you are engaging with your audience and improving your content month over month, pay attention to the trends and new features available to you.

Learn new platforms like Snapchat, Periscope and Pinterest. Learn who uses them and how they are used beyond functionality – are students using them to share photos? Video? Are they using filters? Are they creating original content or sharing what others create? Are they even sharing at all, or are they simple pushing out their own content?

Along with the “how” comes the “why” – why is the platform or feature so popular? Is it because it’s an instant connection to friends? Is it source of entertainment? Is it because visuals are more valuable than text?

Do your research (or work with an agency like Core, who can or already has done the research) and plan how it could work for you.

If any of this sounds completely foreign and daunting and makes your head spin, don’t worry. Fill in the information below for step-by-step examples of how some of the newest social media features can work for higher education markers. Try it for yourself!

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