How Can Universities Use Social Media to Better Engage with Audiences?

Social media connects people all over the world, engages with new audiences and can increase sales for businesses. The young adult demographic that rules social media is often the target audience of most brands, but who should be using social media to grasp the attention of young people more than any other? Universities – centers of academia brimming with energy, promise and tons of social media posts. Here are a few tips on how universities can use social media to engage with key stakeholders and prospective students:

Snapchat Stories

Snapchat Stories are a great tool to give viewers a “day in the life” snapshot of a someone’s day. Enrolled students can see what’s happening around campus in real time, while potential students can get a feel for university life. Stories are only available for 24 hours, so they are always current and encourage people to watch regularly. Short videos can show students using university facilities and engaging in enriching educational experiences. This could capture attention, incite interest, and compel viewers to take a desired action. Ideally, they will deliver humor, suspense or some educational value. Snapchat stories are quick to watch, regularly updated, and incredibly easy to produce. If your goal is to engage a younger demographic, Snapchat Stories are a simple and effective tool that drives engagement and gets your message across.

Instagram Stories – Polls and Questions

Instagram Stories can be a great way to build brand awareness, increase engagement with audiences and bring traffic to your website. Instagram Stories receive more attention than actual Instagram posts because they sit at the top of an individual’s Instagram home page. Instagram Stories, like Snapchat Stories, are available for 24 hours. Viewers can tap through the stories and watch them quickly, instead of having to scroll through their feeds see a post. Universities can use Instagram Stories to hear directly from students through the polling and questions functionalities. For example, questions like, “What kinds of events would you like to see on campus?” or “Where’s your favorite study spot?” can garner a better understanding of what the community, and even a potential incoming class, likes and wants.

Facebook Meme Pages

Most universities now have some sort of meme page on which students can post. Students create memes to post on the pages that often relate to common or “relatable” problems that they encounter around campus. These pages are not created by the universities themselves but having access to them could give university administrators detailed insights into the truest opinions of their students. Meme pages generally use whimsical, ironic or comedic titles and silly background photos that relate to the content on the pages themselves. Some examples of meme pages from well-known universities are “UChicago Memes for Theoretical Midwest Teens,” “Stanford Memes for Edgy Trees,” and “Harvard Memes for Elitist 1% Tweens.” Being a part of these pages is a simplified form of media monitoring that could help any university identify ways to improve their engagement.

Social Media for Crisis Management

Our final recommendation relates to crisis management. Sometimes, situations call for communications due to disruptive events that are harmful in some way to an organization.

During these events, universities must recognize the role that social media can play to repair their image and gain a better rapport with their target audiences. In order to do this effectively, relevant staff should be trained on ways to handle these situations. Statements in response to a crisis can be released via social media to connect with a broad audience very quickly. This audience will most likely include past, present and future students as well as faculty and others who have interest in the university. While other measures will be taken in the case of a crisis, using social media can help further the message’s reach.

These simple social media platform functions can help universities effectively engage directly with their target audiences, establish stronger relationships, and hopefully increase interest and enrollment.

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