Social Media Tips for Higher Education Marketers
Today’s teens are immersed in the digital space using mobile devices and laptops to access information, conduct research and find entertainment. Smartphones are extensions of their arms and they use them to manage every aspect of their lives.
It’s probably no surprise to anyone that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are their preferred channels. So how can marketers leverage social media to engage with this group? Here are seven tips:
1. Listen. Never stop listening. Even if you have a formal social media monitoring program, don’t let that be enough. From time to time, over coffee or lunch at your desk, go to Google, Twitter or even SocialMention for real-time social searches. Enter your program name or important keywords that would be relevant to your school and program recruitment or reputation. If you find a conversation that is relevant, use it as content or even engage directly.
2. Be responsive. Your followers will care about you more if you engage and respond to them on social channels. It shows you’re passionate about having a conversation with them and getting to know them while they are getting to know you. To start, simply begin responding to each and every mention of your brand on Twitter or Facebook – whether positive, negative or neutral. Thank people, apologize if necessary, fix any issues, gain followers and build relationships with every interaction.
3. Empower your employees. Ask your program’s employees to serve as ambassadors online by sharing, retweeting, liking, etc., content to amplify your message and showcase a positive community environment. Also, build your online community by liking, following and sharing content from relevant student organizations, groups, professional clubs and others who share similar interests and goals.
4. Remember that tools change, people don’t. We may use Twitter and Facebook more now than the telephone, but people’s basic needs and wants remain the same. These social tools are just that – tools. Keep your focus on your audience. The value and customer service you provide should shine through regardless of the platform.
5. Integrate and optimize. To optimize your social profiles, use the same keywords and phrases used to optimize your website. But remember to write content for humans, not search engines. How do you do this? Think about what you, as a human, would search for when looking for a program such as yours online. Are they going to search your exact program name? Not likely. When in doubt, read status updates and other content out loud before posting or publishing. It should always sound normal and natural, yet still contain important keywords to help those who are not aware of your program to find you more easily. Be sure to also provide a link back to your website (and your specific program page) on all of your social profiles and, where relevant, within posts.
6. Quality over quantity. It is better to have one good post per day than to post several less useful messages. Remember to stay out of the muck. Just because something is trending, doesn’t mean you should engage. Consider first if it’s relevant for your audience. If it is, engage. If it’s not, move on to the next trending topic and repeat the process.
7. Be human. This is the most important guideline of all. Interact and contribute as you would with someone in person. Social media is, after all, social. Don’t act like a drone or a mindless ‘bot.’ Talk, write and act like a real person. Have a sense of humor – it goes a long way in the social sphere, especially if you can laugh at yourself a little bit. Factor a human voice into your program’s social personality, and you’ll be on the right track. Remember, too, that Google doesn’t forget, so never say anything on social media that you don’t want the whole world to know … forever.