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Change is a constant when it comes to all things related to social media. There's a seemingly endless stream of new apps, functionality, acquisitions, and more.

The digital engagement landscape requires thoughtfulness, strategy, planning, and agility. In 2019, new social media apps have emerged and the old guard are still largely relevant.

This post was inspired by a recent talk that I gave at a career services technology event in Washington, D.C.

Speaking about 'Industry 4.0,' I re-introduced the need for digital engagement specifically from a career services context and mentioned some of the latest social media / digital engagement platforms as well as some of the more established OG apps/sites:


TikTok is thriving. Remember Vine or (which was purchased by TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, in 2017), TikTok is about short, creative, and musically engaging videos. With more than 500 million monthly active users, it's an app that could become a regular part of any digital engagement initiative. A handful of colleges/universities are experimenting with the site/app...and at least one institution in the U.S. already has more than 71,000 fans on the platform:


Twitch and Discord

Esports are an important part of the student experience at a number of colleges throughout the U.S. and U.K. Directly connected to the success of esports are the video-streaming site, Twitch, and the voice/text chat app, Discord. Apps that are primarily predicated on gaming might not seem like they belong in your digital engagement toolkit, but they are fast-becoming platforms for communication that goes beyond their original purpose.

For example, Bernie Sanders recently became one of the first presidential candidate to start their own Twitch channel. Like most digital engagement initiatives, it's important to remember that oftentimes, it's best to go where your audience is already located.


WeChat has been a massively successful app in China and although it's still a bit challenging to use if you're in the U.S. (and don't have connections in China), WeChat will probably get easier (for U.S.-based users) to access/use in the near future. It's a messaging app that has all sorts of functionality built into it (it's a digital Swiss Army Knife).

From recruitment to alumni development, WeChat is absolutely important for higher education. In fact, any social media app (including WeChat) that has more than 1 billion users is extremely relevant for digital engagement.


Speaking of apps with huge numbers of users, WhatsApp (acquired by Facebook in 2014, has more than 1.5 monthly active users. In terms of global usage, WhatsApp is the most-used messaging app in the world. When I lived in England, it was the one app that was nearly always mentioned by students and staff as one of their top social media platforms.

Time will tell whether or not any presidents or chancellors take to the platform via the small business option. Think of it as a direct line, student access/service/information channel.


Instagram crushed Snapchat by way of overt functionality theft. Snapchat is still used by a lot of people, but it seems to have faded severely from the overall social media zeitgeist. Instagram, another product that's part of Facebook, is the go-to app for photo sharing and storytelling. 1 billion people use Instagram each month and 500 million of those users are on the app every day.


It's essentially ancient. However, Facebook is the most dominant worldwide social media app (and company). Facebook is Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, Oculus, and Fb. It's a Goliath within the digital realm that continues to grow. And, there are several people within higher education who are certain that Facebook (the site and app) is still a pathway for opportunities for HE marketing and communications:




The de rigueur networking app, LinkedIn isn't flashy, but it is unbelievably useful. There are always functionalities waiting to be discovered within LinkedIn that can build up and enhance career development.

For example, entrepreneurial academic, Ai Addyson-Zhang, has been using her LinkedIn account to live-stream her thoughts on learning, teaching, and innovation.


Going strong since 2006, Twitter is still the best place to get breaking news, connect around hashtags/topics, and gain access to higher education leaders.

For some great insights into how a senior leader can use Twitter for all sorts of digital engagement, check out this Q&A with Cathy Sandeen from the University of Alaska Anchorage.


It's been the go-to video site (sorry Vimeo) for a very long time.

One of my favourite YouTubers recently graduated from Cambridge University. His interview with the university's Vice Chancellor is a fantastic clip.


If you're not doing AMAs (ask me anything) on reddit, do you even internet? Seriously though, reddit has been around forever and it always generates a high level of engagement.


Which social media apps/sites are you using on a daily basis?

For more stats on the global picture for digital engagement, check out this phenomenal report from We Are Social and Hootsuite:



Do you tweet? Let's connect. Follow me on Twitter.


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