What are the best and worst content trends in higher ed?

Expert highlights top social media trends, tools, performance measurement approaches, and more

Image source: dole777 on Unsplash

Social media is a powerful, dynamic way for colleges and universities to engage with students, faculty, and external audiences. However, achieving impactful connections requires an informed and creative strategy, tailored to each specific social media channel and target audience.

Ahead of presenting at the 2020 Higher Ed Digital Conference, BU social media team member Molly Gluck pulled from her experience elevating faculty research and thought leadership to highlight the best and worst content trends in higher ed, social media measurement hacks, creative content ideas and more. Check out her full Q&A below.

1) What are the worst and best content trends in higher ed?

One trend higher education needs to leave behind is creating unbranded, unpopulated social accounts for schools, departments, athletic teams, clubs, and other groups within an institution. Social media is a powerful, dynamic way for colleges and universities to connect with students, faculty, and external audiences. However, launching and growing an engaging account requires time, effort and strategy. For example, you cannot post the same content and social copy across different social platforms and accounts; each channel has a different audience, and requires thoughtfully tailored content and tone to reach them. A higher education social media communicator must:

1) Clearly identify/brand the account and its content with the university,

2) Take the time to source and develop compelling visual content (i.e. videos, photos, GIFs, graphics, etc.), and

3) Post customized content on a daily basis.

If these three core components cannot be met, individuals should aim to promote content over the institution’s main social media accounts when appropriate instead of launching an account on their own.

Boston University Lab Takeover Series

User-generated content should continue to be prioritized across higher education institutions. It is the perfect way to highlight the authenticity of your organization, and connect with your followers in a personal (and engaging) way. User-generated content enables higher-ed communicators to provide an inside-look into the daily lives of the student body — and feature the individuals, events, communities and achievements that make each institution unique, appealing and welcoming. Not only is user-generated content an effective way to connect with on-campus communities — but it also helps showcase what makes your school lively and special to prospective students, parents, and external audiences.

2) Why is it still so difficult to measure the performance of higher ed content?

Consistency and frequency is key to measuring the performance of higher ed content. Determine which metrics matter to your organization and social media channel, and report on those specific metrics on a frequent basis. For example, I have found it impactful to report on the impressions, engagements and new followers of the Facebook and Twitter accounts I manage on a monthly basis. I also report on the top five Facebook and Twitter posts each month in terms of impressions and engagements. This reporting structure helps me to identify what subject areas, social copy and content are performing well — as well as what’s not resonating on my channels. These insights have empowered me to continue to build on the successful strategies I’ve pinpointed and continually improve the metrics and health of my accounts.

Image source: neONBRAND on Unsplash

3) Share 3 pieces of higher ed content that made you envious or proud.

I am proud of the way that Boston University has cracked the code to amplifying faculty expertise and research on Reddit — the massive online community home to user-led discussions on every topic imaginable, that bills itself as “the front page of the internet.” Reddit attracts 330 million unique visitors per month, and Boston University’s long-lead, in-depth promotion strategy helps attract highly relevant, informed, engaged audiences to AMAs they coordinate with faculty members on topics ranging from memory manipulation, to mental health, to cyberspace, to safely navigating the pandemic and more.

Image source: Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

The MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) Twitter account does an unbelievable job making Artificial Intelligence-focused content engaging, captivating and understandable to broad audiences. The social media manager has found the balance between raising awareness around the work coming out of MIT’s lab — and posting about moments in time, innovators and compelling visual content across the computer science space.

I was very impressed by Coastal Carolina University’s #CCUFamily series on their Instagram account, posting fun, informal yet professionally filmed interviews with students on campus. These videos highlight the different personalities, interests, skillsets and aspirations of students. Here is a great example of a #CCUFamily interview.

4) What’s your favorite new tool for content work?

Boston University Instagram Research Stories

Wave.video has been a critical tool for developing Boston University’s research-focused Instagram stories. It can be challenging to source visual content from researchers to accompany their cutting-edge work, however Wave.video has a library of over 300-million videos and images that can bring research to life in visually appealing, eye-grabbing ways. For example, at Boston University we have recently used Wave.video to help raise awareness about plastic pollution, the growing unhealthy obsession with clean-eating, and an acoustic silencer within our research-focused Instagram stories.

This Q&A originally published on Higher Ed Experts here.

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Tips, tricks, trends, updates & news from the social media team at Boston University. Learn about our best practices and more: https://www.bu.edu/prsocial/

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BU Social Media

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Tips, tricks, trends, updates & news from the social media team at Boston University. Learn about our best practices and more: https://www.bu.edu/prsocial/

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