Category Archives: branding

6 Best Practices for Universities Embracing Social Media

Content from: Hubspot
Original article posted at Mashable

This article breaks down a few important tips to help educational institutions develop their social media strategy.

Their 6 point best practices are as follows:

1. Develop a Strategy and Set Goals

2. Pick and Choose Your Platforms

3. Empower and Support Individual Departments

4. Put Guidelines in Place

5. Develop a Consistent Voice Across Platforms

6. Communicate Across Campus

Some key take-aways from the article are to consider what audiences you’re attracting (prospective student vs. current student vs. alumni) and to choose your platforms accordingly.  There is also a lot to be said for choosing a few key platforms and providing a consistent presence on them rather than spreading your office too thin on every social network, but failing to provide regular content updates and engaging with the online community.

One of the biggest challenges we often face is communicating across departments within an institution. Many of our departments have different goals (obviously admissions is looking to recruit new students while the program offices are more focused on disseminating information to current students), but see if you are able to connect with one staff member within key departments across campus in an effort to unite on the social media front.

If even 4-5 departments band together it will generate a much stronger online presence, create a consistent voice (to Hubspot’s point #5), and increase your reach. This endeavor may take a significant time commitment upfront and may require quite a bit of scheduling to have some sit-down face-time meetings with department representatives.

In the beginning of this process you may find that the topic of social media does not even make it on the agenda. Be patient. Focus on relationship building and provide examples of how your office can support their department’s goals. Also keep in mind that many university officials didn’t grow up in the Web 2.0 generation, and still many think it is not important as an “official channel of communication.” Once you have developed their trust you can present your united social media concept and showcase how it will deliver benefits to their office, as well as yours. Think of this process as an investment that can provide long term benefits for the institution as a whole and ultimately greatly help with your recruitment and retention efforts.

Read the full article here

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How to Leverage the New Facebook Features

Many of us maintain a Facebook page for our institution (or at least have a username and log in for one), but the challenge is leveraging the features of the social network to promote programs, events and features of your school.  Facebook recently made a number of changes to their interface and it is now even easier to promote your “brand” to your fans, which in our case, are usually our students.

In 7 Tips and Marketing Strategies for the New Facebook Fan Pages Kristi Hines not only tells us how the new Facebook changes are beneficial, but she provides step-by-step instructions on to take advantage of the new features.

Here are her 7 tips, with my comments on how you can implement this on your institution’s Facebook page.

1.Using Facebook as a Fan Page
If you’re not currently the page admin, then become one following Hines’ steps. Then begin liking, commenting and interacting on other pages started by different groups on campus and in the local community where your institution is based. This could be the school’s football team, the Drama Club, on campus Counseling Center, the students’ favorite local Taco stand, etc.

2. Featured Likes
Find a few of the most popular Facebook groups on campus and add them as Featured Likes.

3.  Top Five Profile Photos
Your brand is your campus and your students. Include 1-2 professional shots of the campus and have the remaining 3 be nice, but candid, photographs of students (perhaps even ones that have already been posted on FB.) You can simply tag your page in the photo to show up in your photo feed. Just make sure students are okay with having their photos representing the school, but since they’re already on FB they’re often amendable with the image being used.

4.  Showing Page Owners
If you/the FB admin is well-known, and well-liked, around campus it may be good to have the admin name public. I always recommend having students contribute  to the FB page (a great part-time marketing internship for a business student!) so if you have a popular student who is posting for you it would be good to feature him/her as students will more likely fan the page if they know their friend is writing content and involved in the page development.

5. Getting in Your Fans News Feeds
Have your student intern post frequently about what’s going on around campus.  S/he can come up with weekly trivia questions, games or contests that can be posted to encourage comments and engagement among the students body/page fans.

6. Linking to a Fan Page from a Personal Profile
In our case this would be students including their school in their personal profile information. Again, I would use your intern to post about this feature to encourage their friends/peers to pick your institution’s fan page from the drop down menu so it appears as a link in their profile.

7. Where are my Tabs?
The key is using step 3 of her process:
Step 3. If you want to drive visitors to a specific tab on your fan page, you can link to it directly by clicking on the tab’s link from your fan page and then copying the URL from your browser.
These links could be new videos on your YouTube page, a new department website, or a link to an article written in the local newspaper about a student on campus.

You can read Hines’ full article at the link above.  She also includes the following additional resources:

The Most Influential Colleges on Twitter

The Most Influential Colleges on Twitter, based on research done by Klout.

The list below is the 12 most influential higher education institutions on Twitter based on a Klout score of 1-100, measuring click, comments and retweets.

  1. Stanford University – 70
  2. Syracuse University – 70
  3. Harvard University – 64
  4. University of Wisconsin-Madison – 64
  5. University of California, Berkeley – 56
  6. Butler University – 56
  7. Tufts University – 55
  8. Temple University – 53
  9. University of Minnesota – 52
  10. University of Texas at Austin – 52
  11. Marquette University – 52
  12. Indiana University – 51

Tip to Improve Your Institution’s Twitter Presence: Follow these schools on Twitter and monitor the contents of their tweets, how they engage their community, and what their followers retweet & comment on.

The World Map of Social Networks

World Map of Social Networks

Vincos Blog post highlights the changing landscape of social networks from June 2009 to the present.   The most recent map, December 2010, was just released according to Alexa and Google Trends for Websites.

As we seek to stay abreast of new platforms and engaged with our students in the social media world it is important we understand where our students come from, both literally and figuratively. While Facebook is the most popular social network in the US, that is not the case in Brazil, Japan and China. True that Facebook is continually reaching the #1 position in more countries each month (just compare the charts for the past 18 months), but in places like China Facebook (as well as other social media sites) is still blocked.

If your institution has Facebook groups for the incoming class, or other pre-term campus activities, how do you include students in Japan who are on Mixi but don’t have a Facebook profile? Or in China where your incoming student group can’t log on to It’s important to find ways to engage your entire community so all students feel included in your online discussions.  It may be possible to encourage students to join Facebook after they arrive on campus but don’t underestimate the importance of reaching out and communicating with your new students before they arrive for orientation.

Just like we don’t want to see every country speaking the same language, diversity in social media platforms is good. While it may take you a bit more work to create online groups across different platforms it will be worth the effort when your new students from those countries see your institution took the time to sign up and engage with them on their own social platform.

If you’re not familiar with how a social network popular in another country works (or don’t speak the primary language it is written in) hire a current student from that country to manage the account and engage with those incoming or current students. Not only are you making the effort to create a presence on the social network by having an institutional profile (marketing and branding your school) you’re encouraging your new students to engage with their peers who share a similar cultural background. The outcome is win-win as you’ll be building your brand image across countries and lasting friendships on your campus.

How to Handle Negative Publicity on Social Media Sites

There has been an ongoing discussion in the international education field on how to handle the rogue, or simply unhappy, student who spouts off on his her blog/facebook/orkut/renren/twitter page about how upset they are with their educational institution.

The question educators always have is: how to handle negative publicity about your institution on social media sites?

The first response is always: just make it disappear.
“If we pretend as if it never happened no one will ever know, right?”
Unfortunately, no.
In fact, deleting a negative comment or taking down a flagrant post written by an upset student is the last thing you want to do.
It is difficult to watch it sit there and essentially gather more negative publicity but one of the main concepts behind the draw of social media is people feel they can share their opinions. In turn, friends value those opinions and trust their contacts’ views, which help them create impressions and perspective on topics they know less about. Taking a student’s post down essentially takes their voice away, violating their free speech and will only serve to make them more upset.

Having sat through numerous discussions on this topic the answer that always wins is to approach the student in the online space where the comment was created and begin an open, public dialogue. As difficult as it may be, publicly apologize for the mistake and explain how you can improve the students’ situation.
Be clear, concise and detailed.
Avoid placing blame or forging a personal attack. Remember, the customer (your student) is always right, even when they aren’t. Reaching out into their space and showing you are willing to right the situation will go a long way for the student, and their 374 friends, in addition to other outside users who may read the post.

In essence, nothing is perfect all of the time. If you make real life situations disappear eventually the institution seems un-credible because nothing ever goes wrong.

More realistic is having your ear to the ground, reading the social media produced by your students and engaging with them in their space. By responding to the post in a rational manner offering solutions you are creating a positive image of your institution.

This will go a long way when the students and their friends see the public response and realize how far the institution is willing to go to make their students happy.