9 Tips from a Social Media Expert

sm_taylor_fb

As a prior admissions counselor and assistant director of admissions, Taylor Florio brings a wealth of enrollment management experience to TWG Plus team. During that time, she’s specifically created and managed social campaigns in higher ed. Extremely passionate about higher education, she is also an active member of both NACAC and SACAC. Taylor loves living in Charlotte and enjoys to travel, seeking out the best Americano and local flare wherever she goes.

I could go on about everything she’s done, but this is a blog post and not a novel. Anyway, I picked her brain about social media, and here are some of the jewels of wisdom she came back with.

How do you measure success?

Success in my eyes is when a social channel is able to remain constant with content and activity while steadily growing their following.  It’s not always about a surplus in followers, but a following that will engage.

How do you determine which platform(s) to use?

I have always been a huge supporter of only managing social channels if they will be managed well.  Knowing where your audience is spending the most time is key to choosing which social platforms on which to have a presence.  It’s better to have an excellent presence on a few platforms than to be on every social platform and be inconsistent.

What is one of the campaigns you’re proudest of and why?

When I was working in admissions as an assistant director and social media manager, there were a lot of campaigns attempted through the enrollment funnel cycle.  One in particular which measured great success was from a scholarship interview program held on campus.  We had over 200 students and their families on campus for the interview process and I was charged to get those students socially engaged.  In addition to the usual social platform and hashtag plugs during the event, students were asked to capture and post anything that made their experience on campus during the program extraordinary.  We tracked the hashtag over the length of the program and awarded the winner via a social wall at the closing luncheon of the program.  We had a tremendous amount of activity and enough posts to fill a social wall for over 30 minutes without recycling the feed!  I put this in the books as one I am proudest of because it pulled creativity out of our audience and kept them engaged throughout the entire program. The students from that event yielded at the highest rate compared to other campus programs and the images collected from social were ones we could reuse for future content.  WIN WIN.

What trends do you see for current students and what trends do you see coming in the near future?

Snapchat.  Admissions offices and colleges campuses need to be on Snapchat.  This platform is ever-evolving and has dominated the phones of teenagers.  It allows for a true organic look into the day-to-day of a college campus and can be a wonderful addition to recruitment and retention.

What is another school you feel is doing a great job with social?

Tulane.  When I first started taking over the social media for my admissions office, I was digging around for social media aspirational schools who were doing things well.  That’s when I found TruTU.  I highly recommend anyone to explore their social media hub (TruTU) for inspiration.  Kudos to Jeff Schiffman!

Which new platform are you most excited about using?

The platform that’s next.  With social media, there will always be a “next” platform to explore and experiment with.  At the moment, Snapchat is at the top of my list.  There is so much you can do with it and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Is there anything unique about your students that you incorporate into your campaigns, and if so, what?

One favorite aspect of bringing in unique features to a campaign is implementing student takeovers.  Anything from student body president, Greek life participants, student athletes, students abroad, or internship sneak peaks can all be a way to engage the audience even more!  Inclusiveness is the key to any good campaign.

What are some best practices you would recommend for social campaigns?

Constancy with brand, transparency and organic qualities, thinking outside the box, and staying relevant.

What are 3 pieces of advice you would give to anyone about starting and running a social campaign?

  • Start with one platform and work your way up from there, don’t have too much on your plate until you know you are doing well.
  • Don’t be afraid to be creative.  It’s okay if your social doesn’t look like everyone else.
  • Absolutely without a doubt make sure you have created best practices and strategy and share with everyone involved prior to the creation of a social campaign.

Have any questions about the knowledge Taylor just dropped? Comment below and stay tuned to the blog for more social media wisdom from industry vets!

How To Create A Social Media Campaign

Everyone understands the importance of social now, but most can get even more out of it with a strategic social campaign. If you already have marketing efforts executed, a social campaign can be another effective component to complement them. Here are some basic steps to get you from your brilliant idea(s) all the way through a successful social media campaign.

 

Determine Your Goals

Just like doing social for social’s sake is a cardinal sin, so is starting a social campaign without a goal. No goal? Don’t bother. If you’re having trouble thinking of one, increasing engagement across your accounts is a simple place to start, and if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can set goals to increase conversions and revenue.

Define Your Story

Social is sharing. Humans have been telling stories since the beginning of time, and despite all the time that’s passed since we were in caves, storytelling to accurately transfer ideas is something we haven’t lost. What’s unique about your school? Its students? Traditions? All these can help craft a compelling idea and as always, wrap it up in a concise hashtag so you can track it.

 

Choose Your Channel

Just keeping you on your toes. No, of course you don’t have to choose one channel. Choose the platforms that make sense for the campaign. Are you trying to get real-time engagement? Try Twitter, Snapchat, and/or Periscope. Know where your audience is and meet them there. With this in mind, never be afraid to experiment and try fresh concepts on new platforms. People tend to find great content no matter where it is, and being innovative on a new platform can really pay off.

Implement, Monitor, Adjust

You’ve done all your research, and know what you want to accomplish. Now go out and do it. Keeping a content calendar can be helpful with execution. Once you’ve been implementing, it’s time to monitor how things are going. Not going as well as you might have hoped, or come across new relevant information? Don’t panic, try tweaking your tactics a bit to help right the ship.

Measure

At this point, everything should be tracked and it’s time to see how your results stack up against your goals. Even if it didn’t turn out as well as you’d hoped – chin up, champ. You executed a social campaign from start to finish. Blew past your goals? While you’re popping that bottle of champagne, consider making a post to shout out everyone who helped you achieve them. Not only is it a good gesture, but you could technically use the engagement to count towards the campaign numbers as well.

Best Practices: Instagram Ads for Higher Education

After a rollout period as slow as Christmas, Instagram finally made its ad platform generally available.

Using the Facebook Power Editor, colleges and universities can use Instagram to promote clicks to your websites or landing pages with images or videos.

In our experiments with Instagram, we’ve taken some of our best practices from our social media and banner advertising campaigns and applied them to this new channel. We’re seeing that Instagram has been performing well in terms of click through rates – 2 -3% on average.

Best Practices for Higher Education Instagram Ads

Campaign Integration

As the name implies, these are ads. As such they should be consistent in tone and design with your other marketing campaigns. Even though Instagram is technically a social media  channel you are still using an ad that needs to conform to your brand and message – and contribute to your goals.

Use Email Lists for Remarketing

Speaking of campaign integration, get more out of your student search lists and your house lists by creating an audience segment with emails. Not all of your emails will find a match in Facebook, but the ones that do will be served ads that will help increase awareness and keep your school top of mind.

screenshot-business.facebook.com 2015-11-12 13-32-07

Be Simple With Your Design

Instagram (and Facebook) require that no more than 20% of your image is covered by copy. This prevents you from using infographics or a large typeset design.  If you are going to add text to your image, keep it small and have a clear call to action such as “Apply Now” or “Come See Campus!”  Facebook provides a grid tool to verify that you are within its specs.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 1.36.55 PM

Don’t Forget Your Logo

Even though you need to keep your image clutter-free, don’t forget to put your logo in the shot. Without the logo, it could look like just another image.  Depending on your brand and campaign guidelines, building recognition with a consistent look and feel.  Also, if you are going to show students, try to include them showing off their school colors.

Be Interesting

When our designers are looking for an Instagram image, they want it to be interesting. We like to find pictures that are dynamic, show action or even drama. Athletic shots or excited students in the stands tend to catch the eye more. Remember, you are interrupting someone’s social media experience. Use that opportunity to make an impression.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 1.26.15 PM

Always Be Testing

When advertising in Instagram and Facebook, we create at least two different ads to see how they perform against a particular segment. We’ll create one with just an image, one with a CTA button. This way we can save a results database and make sure that we are always improving.

What have you found that works with your Instagram advertising. Tell us about it in the comments!

Why Admissions Should Care About Giphy’s New GIF Maker

Hear that noise?

That’s the sound of higher ed social media managers rejoicing about Gliphy’s new GIF Maker.

Animated GIFs have long been the darling of the Internet dwellers, turning a series of still frames into emotional and cultural memes. In today’s bite-sized world bursting with content, animated GIFs are the bearers of Internet values and ideology.

The problem is, if you’re over the age of 30, you may not know how to create these snackable signs and symbols.

Enter Giphy’s new GIF Maker.

GIF Maker allows you to easily create animated GIFs from video files and YouTube links.  All you have to do is enter a YouTube link, navigate to the starting point and set a duration.  Wrap up by adding a caption and tags. Finally, share your GIF on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or the digital channel of your choosing.

GIF, higher ed

Why Should Higher Ed Care?

GIFs Show Personality

In the last few months, we’ve noticed an increase in animated GIFs in admissions Twitter feeds. The Twitter feeds that respond to students’ excited acceptance posts with a fun GIF demonstrate that the person behind the screen is human and gets current communication methods.

 

GIFs Liven Up A Feed

We’ve also observed that lot of schools don’t put the level of professionalism in their social media feeds as they do for, say, a viewbook, email or road piece.  Sure, your feed should be authentic and monitored. It also is a marketing channel that needs to be entertaining and engaging.  Browse through enough Twitter feeds and you’ll soon realize that your eye is drawn to images, especially moving images.

GIFs Are Easy Content

A great part of social media is based on creating ongoing, engaging content. Until recently making a GIF was cumbersome and was a blocker to content managers. Sites like Giphy provide loads of ready made content for any situation.  Content that pulls on the heart strings is tailor-made for audience engagement and GIFs capture a lot of emotion in a small package.

So, next time you’re looking for content or a response to an excited prospect, don’t say it with words. Say it with a GIF.

4 Ways To Use Periscope In Higher Education

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 10.50.22 AM.png

 

According to its site, over 40 years of video are watched every day. Twitter already acquired it earlier this year. It already has 10 million accounts in just over six months. Ok that may be impressive, but Chandler, another social media platform? Yes, and it’s poised to be the next wave of social. It’s Periscope – live streaming to the world straight from your phone.

Here are a few ways you can make use of Periscope in higher ed.

 

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.08.03 PM.png

 

Live demonstrations

The ease of using Periscope should make the process of creating video content less daunting. No need for expensive production crews or editing software. Just download and go. There are invariably plenty of students who need answers about something relating to your school, why not provide a live demo on how to register for classes, or a campus tour? Save the video afterwards to have it ready to share.

 

Share Breaking Updates

Everyone loves a good breaking story, and Periscope can help you create that experience in real-time. Celebrity sighting on campus? Prominent speaker coming to lecture? Headlining artist just arrive for the show that night? Maybe there’s a demonstration or protest in the quad? There are any number of events that would be great to capture live, but in all reality your students will be just as, if not, more excited to watch a stream telling them classes are cancelled because of the snow storm. Don’t be afraid to keep it simple.

 sm_periscope blog_li.jpg

 

Behind the Scenes

Everyone loves to get an insider’s perspective and the app is perfect for just that. Think about streaming the commencement speaker’s pre-speech routine. Preparing the Homecoming festivities, or even a sneak peek of the team’s huddle or coach’s pre-game speech before the big game.

 

Acceptance Letters

The most exciting time for high schoolers. After months and even years of preparing for and applying to schools, the “acceptance letter” is what makes it all worth it. Why not add another dimension and live stream the process of printing and shipping the letters? Following the student handles beforehand and reminding them to tune in at the time of the stream can build more excitement than just receiving the letter in the mail.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.07.30 PM.png

It’s barely over 6 months old, but its growth suggests it will be around for a while. If and when Twitter decides to make Periscope a regular feature of the platform, higher ed will need to be ready. Starting to integrate it into your social mix now can pay dividends in the future, and see your engagement increase in the present.