Given the critical nature that social media plays in our relationships with key audiences, we should all be scanning each other’s posts and popular enterprises outside of higher ed for ideas and inspiration. Today I thought I’d share four (plus a weather-dependent bonus idea) that you might want to implement on your own social channels—regardless of the size of your team, your institution, or the channels you use.
Repurpose the content
This does not mean to connect your Twitter feed to your Facebook account and have every tweet show up on Facebook too. But popular posts on one platform can be adapted for the format and audiences on other platforms for maximum exposure. For instance, at Gettysburg College, we have started to take the most popular post from Instagram each week and share it on Facebook.
Last week’s photo, captured by a student, was of our main administration building with dark clouds on a sunny day. It was our most popular Instagram post that week, receiving about 900 likes. On Facebook, it had close to 300 reactions and an organic reach of more than 10,000, very good numbers for us.
Repurposing social content can help to bridge the digital-print divide. Our magazine, published three times a year, regularly points to our social media channels. In our most recent issue we highlighted a number of our Facebook live activities and the chatter around retirements of two popular figures on campus. And, of course, we also promote magazine stories via Facebook and Twitter.
Use social to communicate rankings
There are thousands of college rankings out there. When your college receives one and you’re proud (or pressured to ‘get the word out’), don’t wait for a wrap up news story! Share it quickly with your student and alumni base — those most likely to be just as proud. Recently Collegerank.com named us among the best alumni network in the country. Strategically for us, this was worth more than a text post. In less than 24 hours, one of our staff — someone who does not regularly edit videos — produced a 19-second video using iMovie for Facebook. It reached more than 30,000 people.
Put others to work
The people around you are creative and expressive. On Instagram alone, almost 85 million videos and photos are uploaded every day. Look around for content created by your students, faculty, and alumni. Ask for it. Curate it. Use it.
At Gettysburg College, we launched a photo of the day site in November 2008. Since then we have posted thousands of photos, many submitted by members of our community. During the past two years, we moved Photo of the Day to Instagram and it’s been a great success. Our community considers it a “big deal” to get their photo accepted as the college’s Photo of the Day.
Should you be on Snapchat? Check out this post from October 2016 to assess if you are ready. During the academic year, your student activities area plans student events on a weekly basis. Partner with them to create a once-per-week Snapchat story about what is happening on campus. We thought it was a good way to let prospective students know what students do here. But just last week, I was having lunch with two of our current students, who volunteered that our Snapchat stories were how they knew what was going on!
Bonus points for snow
Snow is social media gold. I used this line during a conference presentation a few years ago and it got retweeted quite a bit. Of course, I was later ribbed by our staff, but it’s true: if you get snow, take advantage of it. Some of our best snow photos are from early in the morning, before footprints or melting. Ask your interns to venture get out early on a snow day and capture some images or video footage. Your alumni will love it!
You probably follow your competitor schools, schools who you think do social well, and accounts beyond the ivory tower. Encourage your staff to share posts and techniques that catch their attention. When you see something you like, adapt it to your school, for your purposes. Social media can be strategic, fast, and effective on the fly.
Paul Redfern leads the communications and marketing team at Gettysburg College and is a frequent presenter on marketing and brand topics at national conferences.