Social media teams at schools – especially universities – have a lot of unique challenges.

Your brand is a community, your audience is wide and general, and you’re juggling more balls than there are in all of the gym’s supply closets combined.

You work with lots of teams, on lots of projects, talking to a lot of audiences.

How do you keep it all together without scrambling around like a student who just remembered a final exam in an hour?

With some cool tools for schools, and lots of rhyming.

What school communications teams have to do (hint: it’s a lot)

Communications/PR/social media teams at schools function differently than at a business selling products or services. Your organization is selling an education – how do you categorize that?

On any given day, you might need to use social media to:

  • Recruit new applicants by engaging with high school and prospective students in a Twitter chat about the admissions process.
  • Keep alumni active in your school’s community by moderating designated social media profiles for the alumni network.
  • Share news and promote events to keep your online audience up-to-date on what’s going on at school.
  • Develop and manage your school’s reputation by looking out for criticisms or negative messages and reacting appropriately.
  • Foster community between students by starting conversations and connecting people.

Now, anyone who’s worked in social media is used to their job description changing from day to day. But school social media pros also have some more unique challenges.

Pssst – Want more tips for engaging your school’s community? Here’s our cheat sheet for reaching students!

The struggle is real for education social media teams

Because a school is so different from other business types, like cool media monitoring software (*ahem*), a lot of the struggles all social marketers have to deal with are kinda amplified:

Fragmented teams

While at another business, the social team might have some people from marketing and some from PR, at schools they’re sometimes wayyyy more spread out.

Think about it: how many departments does your school have?

There’s athletics, theater, the English department, the biology department, the student government, lots of extracurricular organizations…oy vey, it’s a lot to organize.

And each department likely has their own staff, and someone managing social for their social accounts. But they all need to work together, and the school’s main accounts want to represent as many groups as possible.

But getting together people from a dozen departments – maybe even located on different campuses – is harder to coordinate than a weekly PR/marketing sync-up.

Lots of channels

One side effect of having lots of departments is having a ton of social media accounts. Whether they’re ones you have to manage yourself, or ones managed by students or other teams, you need to be on the ball.

Since I’m a proud Blue Hen, let’s take a look at the different accounts University of Delaware has going on:

Schools often have several social accounts

Six accounts is a lot. But that’s actually just their main accounts. The more “general” ones with all the most important information. But if you search for other UD-related Twitter accounts, you find handles for lots of other official departments or organizations:

And the list goes on…look at all the different teams and clubs as I scroll further down:

Ack! That’s so many profiles to stay on top of, I feel bad for ever feeling overwhelmed by our brand’s one account. 🙂

Lots of audiences

Finally, lots of teams and lots of channels, of course, leads to lots of audiences. Can you guess the word of the day? (It’s “lots.”)

But a school’s community is huge, including:

  • Past, present, and future students
  • The parents and families of those students
  • The local community
  • Fans of your teams or clubs
  • …basically anyone

That makes knowing your audience a lot of work. There’s that word again!

Try these cool school social media tools:

So how the hell do you reign it all in? You need an excellent arsenal of tools to help you out. Here are our favorite recommendations for social media listening, publishing, and measurement.

Mention

Social media starts and ends with listening. Before you send one tweet, publish one post, your strategy needs to be set. That means knowing who you’re talking to, where they’re hanging out, and what they’re saying.

mention

Using Mention to monitor the names of your school, sports teams, faculty, or location can help you find everything you need to know. And listening should always be at the top of your social media priorities, not just when you’re developing a strategy.

Once you have a game plan to follow, Mention’s keyword alerts will help you find and engage people talking about your school, as well as measure and analyze your efforts so you know how to improve.

2. TweetDeck

Once you have keyword-based social listening taken care of, you can set up Twitter lists to track what specific accounts are saying.

For example, if your school has separate accounts for all its sports teams, you could add them all to an “Athletics” list to easily keep track of what all of the accounts are talking about. You could do the same with other organizations or people.

TweetDeck is a great Twitter tool, brought to you by Twitter itself, for keeping track of different lists of accounts or people.

3. Buffer

Now that you’ve made it easier to monitor social media – both keywords and specific accounts – you can start planning your own posts and content.

Buffer is one of the best social publishing tools out there for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. You can either add posts to your publishing “queue” quickly with one click, or schedule things for specific dates and times.

It also has analytics, makes it easy to reshare popular posts, and its extensions and apps let you schedule social media from any website or device.

4. Hashtracking

If you’re running a hashtag campaign on Twitter or Instagram, good for you! It’s a great way to create user-generated content, grow your reach, and engage your community. But you need to prove all that – with detailed reports.

hashtracking

Hashtracking is a social campaign management platform specifically for hashtag campaigns. Get a feel for the topics of conversation, measure activity and the results that came from it, and find top contributors.

5. Later

Two social media trends that aren’t going anywhere are mobile-only networks and visual media. Instagram is the epitome of both. But it’s always been a pretty big pain for social media pros. They finally rolled out account switching earlier this year (hallelujah!), but you still can’t schedule posts there.

Enter Later (formerly Latergramme). While you can’t completely schedule posts for Instagram, you can make it easier on yourself.

Later lets you “prep” all the content in advance, then acts as an “alarm” to remind you when it’s time to post – where you can push everything from its own app to Instagram in seconds. You can also collaborate, getting your whole team in on the Insta-game.

6. Tailwind

With Pinterest’s young demographics, it’s a great way to reach and engage current and prospective students. But it’s time-consuming. And like Instagram, fewer social publishing tools integrate with it.

Luckily, Tailwind has you covered for both of those tricky networks. It offers content management, both for your own stuff and recommendations for curation. There’s scheduling and analytics, plus it makes contests and promotions easier.

7. SumAll

We’ve shown you a lot of tools for posting to social media. Now it’s time to measure those new efforts. See how they’re working and how you can still improve.

For that, SumAll makes things easy for you with their social media analytics.

It can tell you how your audience size and engagement is changing over time – either in their advanced dashboard or super simple daily digest emails. You also get incredibly detailed information about your audience to better target your content and ads.

Too cool for school

Yep, managing your school’s whole community on social can be tough. But with the right social media tools and the know-how to use them well, you’ll rule your school’s social presence Pink Ladies rule Rydell High.

To learn more on reaching out to new students through social media, click here:brand engagement

Brittany Berger is a content marketer helping B2B companies and entrepreneurs create unicorn content that shows personality and demands attention. Connect with her on Twitter at @thatbberg.

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