Universities and colleges are usually full of millennials — you know, those who are supposedly glued to their smartphones and plugged into social media all the time. 😉
Consequently, many academic institutions now make good use of social media as a tool to reach out to their target group.
After all, education is not only about students getting into their university of choice. Academic institutions, whether they’re public or private, are equally focused on recruiting the cream of the crop and are constantly marketing themselves to prospective students. Social media helps them raise brand awareness and create a sense of community for students, alumni and staff.
What social media can do for educational institutions
Social media can help colleges and universities attract new students, especially those that really fit with the brand. Furthermore, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and even Pinterest and Snapchat are easy-to-use (but perhaps less easy to execute well) ways to stay in touch with current students and alumni, as well as creating a sense of community for all the players.
This is why it’s crucial that educational institutions conduct themselves well on various social media channels. A Facebook page with a short response time to messages, an engaging Twitter account, a frequently updated Instagram or even a few well-curated Pinterest boards account can help universities stand out.
But many institutions now take it a step further and create engaging social media campaigns on either one of their channels or cross-network. Many also combine their campaigns with a social media wall that brings everything together in one place.
What a social wall can do for university social media campaigns
A social media wall like Walls.io can pull posts from previously defined profiles, pages and hashtags and present them neatly in one place. The content displayed on the social wall can be curated and moderated to make sure it fulfils its purpose. There are many different purposes and situations in which a social wall can support marketing efforts.
Universities can use a social wall as a one-stop shop front for their social media activities. They can pull content from Facebook, Twitter, etc. and display it in one place, for example by embedding it on their website with a simple code snippet. The most popular use for a social media wall is as a hub to connect and keep people up-to-date, from prospective to current students to alumni and staff.
Another way to use social walls is for occasions throughout the school year. It‘s not uncommon to set up themed walls for specific events, application periods, graduation, etc. Projecting the wall on a screen or displaying it on monitors is a beautiful and easy-to-implement way to show off content from across profiles or posted with a specific event-related hashtag.
Social media allows institutions to connect to students in a fun and light-hearted way
University social media campaigns can be anything, but they should all be engaging. Some campaigns are focused on the entertainment factor, like the University of Salford’s tongue-in-cheek #Salfie campaign, which has been repeated in various ways over the years to welcome new students or to celebrate graduation. The #Salfie heart templates were even included in student welcome packs to make participation easy.
The University of Michigan has been using social media quite boldly and in inventive ways. It’s one of the very few universities who’ve taken up Snapchat to post silly content, as well as serious campaigns like #AskUMich during which new students got a chance to ask the team questions about the university. The university is using Snapchat as a low-threshold medium, offering students an easy and familiar way to contact the institution on a platform they already use on a daily basis.
The University of Michigan has also repeatedly used Walls.io in the past year to set up social media walls for specific events. Last spring, we took a closer look at their #IChoseUMich campaign. The “Signing Day” campaign invited incoming students of Michigan’s Rackham Graduate School to celebrate their decision to attend the college. The campaign was also the first one to use Walls.io’s social map feature to show social media posts popping up on a map.
In the past year, the university has continued to use social media walls for various events and campaigns at different colleges. For example, Rackham set up another wall for graduation to celebrate Rackham graduates called #RackhamGrad.
Celebrating an anniversary with a social media wall
The University of Michigan’s most current social media wall is #UMich200, set up by the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA), which is the University of Michigan’s largest college.
The whole university is celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2017. As part of the celebrations, LSA is putting on two themed semesters. “Making Michigan,” the winter 2017 theme semester is exploring the university’s history, while the 2017 fall semester, “Michigan Horizons: The Possible Futures of U-M” will be investigating the university’s future.
LSA has set up a social media wall to accompany the year-long event, featuring social media posts about the theme semesters and events in the course of the bicentennial.
Social walls for open house and other events
It doesn’t always have to be a year-long event; Many universities are particularly active on social media around special events, from conferences to open house days, when interested students can take a closer look at their university of choice.
The University of the Arts in Philadelphia had a social media wall up and running for their 2016 Open House event.
Brand walls for colleges
You can also use Walls.io to create a general brand wall to present your institution. One example for that is the social media wall for George Brown College. The Canadian college has created a social media wall that shows all its posts from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube in one place. It serves as a brand wall of sorts, a hub for all its social media activity.
The Vienna University of Economics and Business has created a similar hub for their content, which is also shown on screens on campus.
“We’re using Walls.io on public screens on our campus, to show all our social media content in one place. The idea is to keep students, staff and visitors up-to-date,” says Heike Rössler, the university’s social media specialist.
Over to you
As we can see, more and more universities and colleges are embracing the use of social media, hashtag campaigns and social walls, both as a way to market themselves and to communicate with their students and alumni.
Are you a student yourself? Is your university active on social media or do you think it could be doing a better job? If you are the one running your university’s social media accounts, how can we help you and make your job easier for you?
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