Tuesday, May 5, 2015

HigherEd Marketers: 3 Ways to Create a Lifelong Social Media Presence

According to a recent study by the Center for Marketing Research, nearly 100% of universities have a social media presence. That's good news. The bad news is that the majority of that social media presence is focused on Admissions and we're missing out on a lot of interaction, connection and engagement with students and parents.  As HigherEd marketers, it's critical for us to start extending our social media beyond admissions process because a consistent and strategic social media presence can keep our communities engaged and excited about the University from application to alumni. As a HigherEd professional and student Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern's Medill School, I have found two articles that can help you turn your social media presence into a lifelong social media strategy.

HigherEdWeb.org published an article on The State of Social Media In Higher Ed, which lists some important ways to think about social media as a University tool rather than an admissions tool. The author points out that even though pretty much every University has a social media presence, that having a presence doesn't mean we're adding value. The article goes on to provide the important big picture steps you need to take to transform your social media including creating a strategic plan, empowering departments and educating decision makers on the use of social media.

social media classroom

Mashable's article 6 Best Practices for Universities Using Social Media, which has been shared over 6,200 times, gives concrete actions we can take to turn our big picture plans into an every day reality. The author, the Director of Young Alumni Engagement at Syracuse University, talks about the importance of setting goals, creating guidelines and choosing your platforms wisely.

Based on my examination of these two articles and my studies in the Northwestern IMC program, here are three steps you can take to get started:

1) Talk: Universities can move slow, so get it going. Talk to the Dean. Tell your staff. Check in with Faculty. Mention it at the next inter-departmental meeting. Get the official approval and the unofficial consensus needed to move forward.

2) Write: Establish your goal and your departmental strategy for achieving that goal. Put policies and procedures into place and into writing.

3) Start: And start small. Work with one staff member and one faculty member. Use that experience to update steps 1 and 2, then rinse and repeat.

To keep your students engaged for a lifetime, a University’s social media presence should be integrated into the entire Higher Education experience. This requires a dedicated, comprehensive, social media plan by the marketing department and there's no better time to start than now.

Arden Schuman is a M.S. Candidate in Integrated Marketing Communications at the Medill School at Northwestern University. Arden currently serves as the Assistant Director of Marketing and Recruitment for Northwestern Law School.

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