Social media has the potential to make your university brand look relevant, fresh and on trend. Not only can it drive student recruitment, but it can also increase your university brand recognition and reputation in the process. In addition, it can open up lines of communication for current and prospective students, staff, partners and alumni.
Understanding social media’s great potential is just the first step in widening your online reach, however, what comes next is making sure that what you’re doing on social media is correct.
For tips on the right things to do when using social media for higher education, you can download our recent whitepaper on the topic by clicking below.
But, for an insight into what your university shouldn’t be doing on social media, keep reading.
1 – Using inappropriate language
While it may seem obvious that you shouldn’t be swearing or saying inappropriate things on social media, it’s also important that your posts shouldn’t be overly negative, aggressive, insensitive or rude.
Whether you’re posting a personal opinion on Facebook or responding to a complaint on Twitter, the tone and language of social media should always be civil, polite and appropriate. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a sense of humour or even show an ever-so-slight bias towards your university or partners. However, attacking other universities on social media – or responding defensively to criticism – can create a very unprofessional impression.
Keeping a consistent tone becomes increasingly difficult to monitor and manage when your university operates multiple accounts across multiple platforms. Fortunately, social media tools, such as Hootsuite, allow a main administrator to access various social media accounts while at the same time limiting others’ ability to post without their approval.
2 – Posting the same content across platforms
It may seem enough of a challenge to manage your university’s presence across several social media platforms, but this challenge can be further amplified when you have multiple accounts on each individual platform. While it may save you time to limit yourself to one account per platform, not segmenting your different audiences tends to result in them finding your posts bland and, more often than not, irrelevant. This is because the posts that will interest your alumni will rarely be the same as those that interest your prospective students or your research partners.
When drawing up a social media strategy, it’s therefore wise to plan for each of your audiences accordingly. Use social media management tools and make time to tailor your posts and provide the best content for the right audiences.
3 – Being unresponsive
It would be considered rude to ignore someone when they address you or ask you a question in person, so is it not equally rude to ignore someone that mentions you or contacts you on social media?
Social media is a conversation-starter for you and your audience; think of it not as a megaphone, through which you can shout your messages to any follower who will listen, but instead as a metaphorical telephone. Not responding to mentions means missing an opportunity to better connect with your audience.
4 – Not using hashtags
Not using a hashtag when posting on social media platforms that use them (such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+) could mean that the content you are posting is getting lost in the ever-expanding noise of social media. Consistent, and more importantly, relevant hashtags will help followers and potential new recruits find and access your content easily.
5 – Not keeping up to date
Not posting regularly across all your social media channels will give the impression that your university has nothing interesting to say. While it undeniably necessitates a greater use of resources to create and post relevant and interesting content every day, this is vital if you want your social media marketing to be effective. Here again, automation tools such as Hootsuite and TweetDeck can be incredibly useful in helping you to schedule your social media posts for the week in advance.
6 – Being irrelevant
There can be a temptation to post simply for the sake of posting; a temptation that needs to be controlled in order to keep your social media activity relevant and beneficial to your followers. Your audience is following you because of its interest in what your university brand has to say on relevant topics; so don’t ruin this by giving in to your overwhelming desire to share another cat video, no matter how cute the cat may be.
Remember that while posts should be relevant, they don’t always have to be brand new. It’s just as beneficial to share repurposed and curated content that is still relevant to your audience. It’s also a great deal better than sharing just anything you can find. Of course, original content is ideal and should be an integral part of your social media strategy, but it need not be the only part of it. Curating and sharing the content of others also helps kickstart online conversations and builds connections with other institutions and organisations.
Make sure you’re getting your social media marketing right by downloading our whitepaper on best practices for higher education.