Rising tuition fees, fiercer competition and student expectations mean universities need to focus on building a brand around their unique identity and social media is a great place to do it!
Social media is a great place to distinguish yourself from other universities and build a truly unique brand, with 100% of students using some form of social media. If you want to be known for your breakthrough research, unparalleled student care or fantastic facilities, social media allows you to craft your image.
1. Choose Your Social Channels
By understanding your audience and your goals for social media, you should be able to determine the best platforms for your institution. Be strategic in which content goes on what platform; for example, LinkedIn has a more professional audience interested in seeing research updates. In contrast, Twitter has a younger audience, being better for announcing student updates and announcements.
The University of Birmingham’s LinkedIn account regularly shares updates on research but also speaks directly to alumni with invitations to surveys.
In contrast, their Twitter account speaks to current students more often with invitations to events, sports updates and student achievements.
Come along and cheer on our @BirminghamLions It’s free to come along and we’d love to get everyone cheering on our players üôå
If you really can’t make it the match is being livestreamed via YouTube here: https://t.co/h1Dcu5p73r pic.twitter.com/AkrCEYWbvJ
‚Äî Uni of Birmingham (@unibirmingham) November 8, 2019
2. Stay Authentic & Consistent
Alongside your tone of voice, you must ensure that the whole feel of your official university profiles stays consistent. If you have multiple accounts, a great way for users to know immediately that they’re on official channels is to include links to them in your bio, just like Plymouth University does.
Try to use the same social media handles and usernames across all platforms, keeping profile pictures and colours consistent and on-brand. It’s also a good idea to choose one or two photo filters and stick to them. This gives all photos in your feed a cohesive look that ensures potential students know they’re on an official university page.
3. Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader
Many universities are known for their breakthrough research, attracting thousands of students around the world each year. Social media provides an excellent opportunity for universities to promote the research that they’re working on, breakthroughs they’ve had and projects they’ve been involved in.
Newcastle University is a great example for sharing discussions on research that they’re involved in; just like this research into overseas dementia care. Not only does it highlight important real-world applications to research, but it also reinforces the Geography school’s reputation as a thought leader.
Can care homes in Thailand help to meet growing demand for dementia care in N.America & Europe? A unique performance this wk @northernstage based on research by @NCL_Geography & @costacompagnie explores overseas dementia care. Tix: https://t.co/NGs7Npzswe https://t.co/juNhBlrwzV
‚Äî Newcastle University (@UniofNewcastle) November 12, 2019
By giving each individual school the tools to be active and successful on social media, you can show how diverse and rich your university’s course offering is. It will also help you speak directly to potential students interested in that particular school, without diluting your message on your central social media accounts.
You can also take part in scheduled twitter chats to impart valuable knowledge onto a broader audience, and proactively engage in social listening around your research topics to join the conversation. Of course, sharing research breakthroughs on your profiles is a great way to promote your work to potential and current students, as well as providing a valuable source of regular content.
4. Show Off Your Campus Culture
While some students may be interested in research breakthroughs, many will just want important university information such as enrolment, clearing and accommodation. Give students quick access to these answers by posting this content for them on your social media.
Making your university as accessible as possible is vital, but so is showing potential students what campus life is like. You no longer have to rely on brochures and prospectuses — demonstrate campus life as it happens on social media.
The University of Glasgow shared a heartwarming story where one of their students got noticed busking in the city and went on to meet Cher! While they can’t guarantee that every aspiring musician will meet international icons, it highlights the friendly and supportive city that the university is based in.
‚Äî University of Glasgow (@UofGlasgow) November 6, 2019
To build a university brand on social media, you need a solid plan with clear objectives; these should tie into your long-term goals as a university. Always keep your target audience in mind for everything to do with social media. Positive student experience will translate to a strong university brand, so let that shine through on social media.
Our free social media training academy shares advice on everything from creating a strategy and getting your tone of voice right, through to building and engaging a community. Watch the lessons for free!