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July 24

10 Social Media Marketing Best Practices for Colleges and Universities


by | Jul 24, 2017 | social media, Blog, Featured

In today’s marketing world, it’s unlikely you’re just putting your toes into the water when it comes to social media. Chances are, your college or university has been using social media for a while. Question is: Are you using social media effectively? Here are 10 best practices for social media marketing that you can use to improve your social media results today.

1. Set up a plan.

You wouldn’t think to begin your marketing efforts on just a wish and a prayer. The same should go for your social media efforts.  

Even if your social media workflow is up and running, if you do not have a plan for social media marketing, stop and begin working on it.

Social media marketing can be a cornucopia of new leads – but it can also be a black hole where your time, money, and efforts disappear… never to be seen again.

Having a social media marketing plan is imperative in order to navigate the vast expanse of social activity. A good plan should include:

  • Audience personas
  • Chosen social media channels (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) based upon your audience(s). For example, Instagram and Twitter for teens, Pinterest and Facebook for parents. Google+ for improved Google rankings.
  • An editorial calendar
  • A list of curated content sources
  • Goals and metrics to be measured to determine success

2. Work from an editorial calendar.

An editorial calendar can look like a date calendar, but it can also take the shape of a spreadsheet or timeline.

What’s important when it comes to editorial calendars is that the calendar contains the themes, topics, and publishing dates for the various types of content you will be producing.

Editorial calendars are the touchstone for your marketing team telling them what is to be created (content) and when it is to be distributed (frequency).

3. Post frequently and regularly.

Little helps to build brand authority more than to publish relevant content often for your audience. It’s also important to post your content at regular times (like every Tuesday) so your audience knows when to expect a new post.

4. Automate updates and other repetitious social media functions.

Automation is one of the most effective ways to improve your publishing frequency. Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to schedule posts and tweets in bulk ahead of time. You can also automate promoting your blog content using an amazing tool called CoSchedule, like I do.

Save yourself hours of work by automating other repetitive tasks.

Move data posted from social media to spreadsheets and reports with free automation tools. Zapier and IFTTT (If This Then That) connect over 500 cloud-based tools to one another. Save every tweet you write to Evernote. Create a spreadsheet from every Facebook post. Record every social media conversation on the calendar. The options are not only endless, but automatic.

5. Repurpose content in various forms.

No need to reinvent the wheel. If you’ve already gone through the work of researching, writing, designing, and publishing your content once, chances are you can rework it into another form, catching even more attention from the same content.

“Todd Wheatland, vice president of thought leadership at Kelly Services (the global staffing firm), doesn’t create content every day, but when the company does have a story to tell, it maximizes it. Todd’s goal is to create 20 pieces of content (such as SlideShare presentations, videos, blog posts, and white papers) all from one story idea.” – Joe Pulizzi, from his book Epic Content Marketing

Take a look at your content and begin thinking of ways you could repurpose it through another marketing channel.

That blog post could probably become an infographic, a 30 second video, or at the very least, fodder for 10 or more Facebook posts.

6. Keep it social.

Social media marketing is SOCIAL. Despite the time-saving wonders of automation, you cannot automate the social aspect of social media.

This means a human on your team (if not you) needs to respond to social media interaction such as comments on your wall, retweets, or mentions of your brand in other people’s posts.

Being available to your audience through social media takes time, so automate the mundane so you can focus on the relationships.

This also means that replies need to be made as quickly as is reasonable for you. Too much of a delay leaves the conversation cold.

7. Identify social media KPI’s.

Part of your social media plan should contain the goals you’ve set for your social media marketing. But these goals should be linked directly to very clear Key Performance Indicators for your organization.

8. Measure progress with social media analytics.

There are plenty of metrics to track—number of followers, likes, shares, retweets, comments, etc. None of these metrics alone tells you how well your social media marketing is performing.

However, without them, you’ll never know what’s really going on.

There are numerous options for analytical tools from media monitoring firms like Meltwater to third party social media tools Hootsuite and Buffer.

9. Use social media and print together.

Integrative marketing strategies always perform better as each marketing channel supports the other. And with today’s technology, your print and social media channels can work together to bring you better results.

For some great ideas, here’s a post I wrote on 14 ways to incorporate print and social media.

10. Integrate social media strategies into every live event.

There’s an old saying (Well… it’s old if you think of it in internet years).

If it ain’t online, it didn’t happen.

No matter how good your event marketing was, not everyone can or will make it to your event. In order to expand the reach of your event, you can use social media to post pictures, video, or audio from your event.

And now that live streaming has come to Facebook, there’s no reason not to make your events available to your audience in real time!

Facebook Live is an incredible platform for lectures and special guests because your online audience can post comments and share the video stream with their audience while it’s happening and even after the event.

The best strategy is to use social media to stimulate a conversation around your events.

Having a conversation by using hashtags and comment threads gets the word out that your college or university is the place to be for students, donors, or alumni.

Need a little help with your social media marketing? Give a us call or drop us a note!

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Featured image by Tierney via Adobe Stock

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