3 Ways To Improve Your Social Media & Engage More Students

As a higher education professional, I see firsthand how student affairs professionals are eager to use social media yet aren’t using it effectively. We all want to use social media to promote our events and programs, but there are different ways to do so when it comes to reaching college aged students.

While college students are “always on their phone” and on social media, they don’t necessarily want to be sold to or promoted to all the time. Think about it, when you’re on social media do you like seeing brands constantly pushing their product at you are getting you to buy their product? I don’t know about you but I find that super annoying and will tend to unfollow.

If you’re a higher education professional or education professional in general who is trying to reach a younger demographic, really put yourself in their shoes and think about how you would feel if you were seeing whatever message you are putting out there.

Instead of constantly posting about your next event and begging students to come to it try thinking of other creative ways to engage students and get them excited about your event.

Here are three ways you can do just that:

3 ways to use social media to engage students

Make It Fun

Do not, I repeat do not, just post a picture of your flyer that you’ve been plastering all over campus. That will not get much engagement or excitement for your event. Instead, take the information that you have and create a fun image for whatever social media platform you’re using.

For example, on Facebook, images and videos do really well when it comes to being seen on people’s newsfeeds. Create a branded image or a short video that will entice students and get them talking about your event. At a school I used to work with they would create a short teaser video for events such as a mud run or bed races etc. This shows students what will be happening and also entices them more than a flyer. Think about what would get you excited and create that. Even if your topic is “boring ”you can find ways to spruce it up. If your event will have free food, a raffle, or prizes of any kind definitely include that as well

Start Using Video

Video is huge right now, as I mentioned above, so it’s definitely something you should start utilizing. Whether it’s creating shorter form videos for Facebook or getting on an app like Periscope, it is something you should consider when it comes to your social media marketing.

YouTube videos do take time to create and edit however using an app like Periscope is much easier. Using Periscope you can live stream your events or give behind-the-scene views of your department. People love behind-the-scenes types of videos so keep that in mind. Check out my previous article all about periscope here.

If you want to make videos for Facebook or YouTube simply use an editing software that comes with your computer to put together videos. You don’t need Final Cut Pro or fancy equipment to do so. Many videos that you see online are filmed with just an iPhone. Create teaser videos, promo videos or interview videos of students on campus…anything that will get people talking. If there is an upcoming event at your school (not necessarily within your department) that students are talking about, then create content around that. Leverage that popular event or promotion to get people to your page as well. Other video ideas include how-to videos, behind-the-scenes videos like I mentioned above, funny videos, step-by-step videos and more. Buzzfeed’s Facebook pages do a great job of incorporating video – check this one out.

If you have students working with you then use their creativity to help you brainstorm for these types of content.

Use Students

Going along with where I just left off in the previous statement, if you don’t already have students working in your office get them there. Whether you get them as interns or work-study, whatever you need to do, hire a few students to help you out.

You may want to do it all but I assure you that having a student team will help you create better content that resonates more with college students. I know that many higher-ed professionals are worried about students having access to social media credentials and accidentally posting something but I think that the pros outweigh the cons.

Students are more responsible than you think and they know not to be posting on your social media profiles as opposed to their own. Furthermore, giving them the opportunity to help you with your marketing helps them in adding something to their resume. It helps them develop a visual portfolio that they can take the future employers.

They understand more than anyone else what students are thinking and they know of trends way before you might. I didn’t know about snapchat until my younger sister told me about it and explained it to me…and I’m not even that much older than her!

Students are the number one way that you can start creating better content. Make sure that you foster an atmosphere where they’re comfortable giving you feedback on your content or giving you new ideas. When I worked in a marketing department with students, we encouraged them to give us any idea no matter how crazy they thought it was and a lot of the times we implemented them and were very successful.

So a few takeaways from this article for you would be:

  • Hire a student or multiple students to help with your department’s social media marketing
  • Start developing video content
  • Experiment with new apps as they come out (like Periscope)
  • Create content for each social media platform and DON’T just post pictures of your printed flyers

As you start creating content, feel free to send it to me or leave your school’s/department’s social media links in the comments so I can start following you!

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