If you’re part of a school’s social media teams, we know you face a lot of unique challenges — especially if you work for a higher-education institution.
Your brand is a community. Your audience is as wide as it is diverse in backgrounds and aspirations, and you’re probably juggling more balls than there are in all of the gym’s supply closets combined.
What’s more, I’m sure that you work with lots of teams, on lots of projects, talking to a lot of people…
All. Day. Long.
How can you even keep it all together without scrambling around like a student who just remembered a final exam in an hour?
Well, despite all the brain juice that we have, we humans sometimes need some extra help.
In this blog post, you’ll learn about great social media tools that schools can use to pump up their social media strategy when it comes to communicate and share information with their teachers and students.
What school communications teams have to do (hint: it’s a lot)
Communications/PR/social media teams at schools function differently than the ones of a regular business that’s selling products or services.
Your organization is selling education and, on any given day, you might need to use social media to:
- Increase applications by engaging with high school and prospective students on social media. One way to do this is to organize a Twitter chat about your school’s admission 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 through social networking, and connecting people — that also includes parents and educators.
Now, if you are working within a social media environment, you’re definitely used to see your tasks shift drastically from one day to another.
But school social media professionals also face unique challenges.
The struggle is real for education social media teams
While they definitely are businesses of their own, schools remain very different from other businesses.
One demonstration of this is the amplification of all the regular social media struggles such as:
- Having fragmented teams
- Having to deal with a lot of different communication channels
- Speaking to a LOT of personas
Let’s five into that.
Fragmented teams: how many departments does your school have?
In most businesses, only specific members of the marketing team and, maybe, some of the PR team will have access to the various social media accounts. For schools, this is rarely the case as teams are often way 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… And this is only the tip of the iceberg.
What’s more, each department is likely to have its own staff … and that includes different management systems to deal with the school’s web page and the various social media accounts.
I’m sure that many of you reading this realize how this makes it extremely difficult to centralize your organization’s tone and communication strategy on all the social media channels you use.
Lots of accounts, and channels
One side effect of having lots of departments is having a ton of social media accounts. Whether they are accounts that you have to manage yourself or ones managed by students or other teams, you need to be on the ball.
Not being on top of things leaves too much room for random events to happen. At school, random events can sometimes get out of hands and turn into an uncontrollable PR crisis. You don’t want this to happen.
Since I’m a proud Blue Hen, let’s take a look at the different accounts the University of Delaware has going on:
This is an awful lot. And this is only a small fraction of all the accounts related to the school.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s great that there are so much noise and conversations going around the University of Delaware.
But this is 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, lead to lots of audiences.
But a school’s community is huge, including:
- Your future students.
- Your enrolled students.
- Your Alumni community.
- Students’ families.
- The local community.
- Fans of your sports teams and clubs.
- And pretty much everyone else affected by your campus’ life.
That makes knowing your audience a lot of work.
Now that the scenery is set — and that your heart rate has drastically increased — let’s talk about tools that you should consider to increase your daily productivity.
6 tools to manage your school’s social media strategy
Here are our favorite recommendations for social media listening, publishing, and measurement.
Starting with our own, Mention.
1. Listen and engage with your community using Mention
Any social media strategy should start and end with listening.
Before you start sending tweets and Instagram posts, you need to know who you’re talking to, which social media platform they’re active on, and what they’re saying in there.
The truth is that there are maybe hundreds, if not thousands of people potentially mentioning your school on social media sites as you read those lines.
Without a social listening tool such as Mention, you can only grasp the surface of those conversations (meaning only those where your institution is actually @mentioned).
Using Mention to listen and monitor the name of your school, sports teams, student posts, competitors or even class discussions going online will help you to find everything you need to know, as it happens to strengthen your social media strategy.
Listening gives you knowledge
Listening should be at the top of your social media priorities, not just when you’re developing a strategy.
Once you have a game plan, Mention’s keyword alerts will help you to find and engage with people talking about your school, as well as to measure and analyze your efforts so you know how to improve.
Here’s an example of a conversation that Harvard’s social media team should jump on to temper potential backfires.
Using Mention, you can also plan and schedule your social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and, if need be, on LinkedIn.
The best part is that you can try it all for free right here.
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.
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 is a social campaign management platform specifically designed to monitor hashtag-based campaigns.
Get a feel for the topics of conversation, measure activity and the results that came from it, and find top contributors.
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.
With Pinterest’s young demographics, it’s a great way to reach and engage current and prospective students.
But it’s time-consuming.
Just like for 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.
You can both schedule posts and enjoy analytics. Plus it makes contests and promotions easier.
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 are evolving 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.
Time to step-up your social media game
Managing a school’s community on social media is definitely a tough job.
That being said, using the right social media tools and having the Know-How to use them the right way, you should be able to stay on top of all that’s happening in and around your campus.