For higher education marketers, social media takeovers have transitioned from an innovative twist on social publishing to an integral part of any professional’s social media strategy.
That’s because at a time when authenticity is everything, content for and from your current students and alumni trumps anything your marketing team can conceptualize and create. (Highlight to Tweet)
“No matter how human your social tone of voice is, or how good your copy is, chances are that if you get a real student on your social account, they’re going to be far better at it than you will be and they’re going to create content that is going to resonate far more strongly with your prospective students,” says Dave Musson, Head of Content at Net Natives and previously Senior Online Communications Officer at the University of Warwick.
In this episode of the Hashtag Higher Ed Podcast, we welcomed a talented group of panelists to the show to discuss the ins and outs of social media takeovers. In addition to Dave Musson, we talked with Anice Barbosa, Integrated Marketing Coordinator at Wheaton College, Tim Schwarz, Head of Creative and Digital Marketing at Surrey University, and Rebekah Winkler, Social Media Manager at the University of Tennessee.
Our panelists shared their reasoning for implementing social media takeovers on their campus, how they each go about sourcing and evaluating takeover candidates, how to logistically handle account access, cross-promoting content, evaluating takeover success, and their top tips and advice for others considering social media takeovers on campus.
Tim Schwarz on taking inspiration from the private sector
“I see parallels with the rise of influencer marketing. Delivering a fun, authentic, and interesting perspective from someone obviously passionate about your brand is a powerful and infectious tool. It can be expensive and challenging in commercial industries, but I feel it’s simpler in higher education with the opportunity to tap into the passions and experiences of potentially thousands of influencers living on your doorstep.”
Anice Barbosa on why Wheaton College Implemented Social Media Takeovers
“Most of our social media channels are outward facing. They serve alumni, prospective students, and the parent constituency. Our students wanted to see campus life through their own lens. They didn’t want the brand voice behind it. They wanted to hear from peers.”
Rebekah Winkler on Sourcing and Vetting Candidates
“I try to reach out to any faculty or staff I know on campus who may have a relationship with the student. Maybe I know they have a particular major or work in a particular office. I also spend a lot of time just looking at what they’re tweeting or instagramming. That helps you get a feel for their interests but also their decision making. And we of course have an agreement that they have to sign, and meeting them face-to-face is a big part of vetting students.”
Dave Musson on Evaluating Takeover Success
“I certainly look at likes and comments and compare those numbers against our weekly average benchmarks. But also, I look at the actual content. Was it good content? Did people engage with it? Did it teach us anything about the kinds of things that prospective students are really interested in that could help shape future marketing campaigns?”
Anice Barbosa’s Social Shout Out
Sonia Targontsidis, Associate Director, Integrated Marketing, Wheaton College
Follow Sonia on Linkedin.
“We are a two-person integrated marketing team and her creativity helps us continually advance our goals and have fun doing it.”
Dave Musson’s Social Shout Out
Eric Stoller, Higher Education Strategic Communications Consultant
Follow Eric on Twitter at: @ericstoller
“My favorite person from Iowa who isn’t a member of the band Slipknot is the brilliant Eric Stoller. He is a thought-leader, an inspirational speaker, and has already made big impression in the UK since moving over here a couple of years ago. His blogs for Inside Higher Ed are great, he is well worth a follow on Twitter, and he has very recently become a dad too – he’s just an all-round knowledgeable higher ed social media superstar.”
Tim Schwarz’s Social Shout Out
Emma Chandler, Social Media Manager, University of Surrey
Follow Emma on Twitter at: @chandles47
“She is a force for social good and has recently been instrumental in setting up our operation to cover WeChat. We’re now up and running with a planning process, translation operation, and in-country content implementation to talk about the wonderful things that happen at Surrey all the way over in China.”
Rebekah Winkler’s Social Shout Out
Jessy Lawrence, Director of Communications, University of Tennessee Alumni Office
Follow Jessy on Twitter at: @jessylawrnce
“I probably have eight individuals in mind, but I’d be a big fan of Jessy’s no matter where she worked. She’s led social media giving campaigns the last two years that have netted more than $1M each year just through the social media efforts of the campaign. It’s been a huge undertaking and she’s an absolute rockstar. She’s also gotten our alumni super engaged in telling our university’s story on social media. She also just had a baby, so she’s on maternity leave with little boy #2, so she’s just doing amazing things in every aspect of her life.”
Special thanks to Anice, Dave, Tim, and Rebekah for joining the Hashtag Higher Ed podcast.
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