Resizing Images & Adding Sliders to a WKU.edu Site

One of the most frequently asked questions we get in Creative Web Services is how to resize images. Many times, you’ll need to have an image fit into certain dimensions, but your original file will have a different aspect ratio. Simply changing the file to the dimensions you need will stretch or skew the image… and that is certainly NOT what you want!

To fit an image within specific dimensions, there are a few easy steps. We’ve created a few videos to guide you through the process. If you learn best by text, be sure to check out our step-by-step post with instructions as well. First, how to resize your image in Photoshop:

If you don’t have access to a copy of Photoshop, don’t sweat it! There are several free online photo editors that achieve the same goal. We’ve chosen to give directions on Pixlr’s photo editor, since the process is the most similar to the steps taken to resize an image through Photoshop.

Once your photo is sized appropriately, you need to add it to your website’s slider file. This involves uploading an image into your site’s images folder and then placing that image within your site’s slider. We outline the process in the video below.

Whether you need to resize an image for a website’s slider, a Facebook ad, or an Instagram post, these processes are the same. As long as you know the new image dimensions, you should be able to follow these steps and have beautiful images that aren’t stretched ready to use. Have questions? Want to brainstorm the best way to reach your audience through your website? We’re here to help! Email webservices@wku.edu and be sure to give us a follow on Facebook and Twitter, too!

Engaging Your Audience with Facebook Live

source: forbes.comFacebook Live debuted in April of 2016, and the company has been rolling out its feature for users and pages ever since. In a nutshell, “going live” on Facebook allows you to share a video feed in real time to your Facebook account or page. After the broadcast is finished, the video will be saved onto the account, making it easily accessible for future viewing.

If you’ve ever used Periscope, Facebook Live is a very similar feature, except it has a few distinct advantages: 1- it is built within the Facebook app, so you don’t need a separate app on your device to use the feature, and 2- the videos save automatically, so you have access to the footage on your account for rewatching, sharing, and repurposing for any additional marketing needs.

Why It Works

On the institution-level, we have used Facebook Live for a few different events. During M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan convocation, we were able to go live during President Ransdell’s convocation address, and we took a fantastic video of the Class of 2020 in formation on the football field, waving their red towels.

The 2020 video was massively successful, with more 48,000 views and 1,144 likes.

M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan week turned out to be great time for us to experiment with Facebook Live. During our social media coverage of Big Red’s Blitz, we caught a video of Big Red dancing. It received more than 55,000 views!

What this success shows us it that videos are a great way to engage your audience… especially if you’re giving them access to content they otherwise wouldn’t be able to experience. With Facebook Live, you’re literally allowing your audience to experience an event with you.

Tips for Success

If you think Facebook Live could work for you, here are some things you’ll need before you get going:

  • Good Internet Connection: Make sure you have a strong internet connection at the location you’ll be streaming. Users are reporting that data connection is actually more reliable than wifi for Facebook live videos. A bad connection can cause the video to cut in and out or lock up during streaming.
  • Fully-Charged Battery: The last thing you want is your device to die in the middle of a broadcast!
  • Solid Logistics: Be sure you understand the event logistics or schedule in advance so that you don’t have a lot of dead time at any point in the video. It’s also helpful to have a second person on another device who is able to answer any questions or comments that users make on your video.
  • Keen Vantage Point: Get as close to the video subject as you can, and try to avoid places with a lot of background noise.

The possibilities are endless for how you can take advantage of Facebook Live. We recommend having a clear subject for your video, rather than filming a large group. For example, if you’re going live during a career fair, you might want to have a “host” to ask questions to different employers or students. The feature would also be great for Q&A sessions with faculty or staff in your department, showcasing students’ hands-on experiences in the classroom, or capturing performances in real-time.

Do you have an idea that you’d love to see come to life? Want to collaborate on ways your department can utilize Facebook Live to grow and engage with your audience? Let us know! Send an email to webservices@wku.edu, and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more tips on making the most of your social web presences.

Snapchat: How YOU Can Make the Most of the Popular Platform

Follow WKUHilltoppers on Snapchat!
Follow WKUHilltoppers on Snapchat!

As social media marketers, we love trying the latest and greatest social media trends. Then right after we finally master them, the masses have moved on to something else. A year ago, Snapchat was on the list of apps that had questionable staying power. However, current research is showing us that Snapchat is here to stay…and it can be a great way to engage with students!

President Ransdell got a lesson in the Snapchat Face-Swap from some WKU Cheerleaders recently!
President Ransdell got a lesson in the Snapchat Face-Swap from some WKU Cheerleaders recently!

Over 60 percent of Americans the ages of 13 and 38 are Snapchat users,” according to Forbes.  Social Media Examiner found that Snapchat has nearly 100 million users each day, and that number is growing. In fact, nearly 70% of all high school juniors and seniors said they use the platform daily, making it the third most popular social medium, behind only YouTube and Facebook, according to the 2016 College-Bound E-Expectations Survey from Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

All those stats show us one thing: college-aged Americans love Snapchat. But what is it? In short, Snapchat is an app where users can send photos and short videos to other users and create “stories” from those photos/video in real-time. The content expires quickly (a few seconds in person-to-person interactions, and after 24 hours in Stories), which lends itself to a more informal, conversational nature. This makes Snapchat a great platform for departments and organizations with small social media teams. WKU has had a presence on the platform for a while, and this fall we are ramping up our Snapchat initiatives with cross-campus collaborations, event coverage, and one-on-one interactions.

If you’re interested in learning the platform or starting an account for your department or organization, we recommend starting out by experimenting with the app in a personal account.

After you download the app, make your first snap! Below, we have a visual for how the app looks before and after you create a snap. (Yes, that is an exploding TARDIS poster.) You can tap the circle in the bottom middle of the screen to take a photo, or hold down to create a video.

snapchathowto1

Snapchat is known for giving the user options for creativity. Press and hold on your face before making a snap to access a slew of fun face-changing filters that can be used alone or with multiple people in the photo.

 

Press and hold on a face to access several silly face filters on Snapchat
Press and hold on a face to access several silly face filters on Snapchat

Draw on your snaps, add stickers or emojis, and swipe left or right after creating a snap to access photo filters…including geofilters! Geofilters are location-based filters that can to added on top of a snap. At WKU, we currently have a few geofilters available across campus.

Here are some of the geofilters we've had at WKU in the past.
Here are some of the geofilters we’ve had at WKU in the past.

Now that you have an idea of what Snapchat can do, how can you use it? We find that the best way to reach all of your audience is by creating a Story, rather than sending snaps to users individually. Topics for Stories could include…

  • Tour of your building or offices
  • Videos and photos of students at your event
  • Quick “How-To” video, relevant to your department or organization
  • Short interviews with faculty or students about your program

Other ideas include encouraging followers to send snaps to your account that you can then screenshot and add to your Story through the “Memories” option and using the platform to engage one-on-one with students who have questions about your department or organization.

There are many ways you can use Snapchat to your advantage, but our #1 piece of advice is to have a plan. Since Stories only last 24 hours, building and engaging with an audience will take effort. Do you have a savvy student interested in running an account for your department or organization? Enlist them to help! Afterall, students offer users the most authentic perspective on what being part of your department or organization is like. If you’d rather collaborate with Creative Web Services to bring your event, class, or idea to life on the WKUHilltoppers Snapchat, let us know!

Snapchat is here to stay, and Creative Web Services is here to help you figure out how it can fit in your social media strategy. Have questions or a great idea? We’d love to hear from you! Send an email to webservices@wku.edu, and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more Snapchat info in the future!

Preparing for a New Academic Year with Instagram

Here in higher education, a new academic year can mean a fresh start for many things.  Perhaps you have implemented new programs, hired new employees or students, or maybe you are just looking for a fresh start with a new focus.  Whatever the case may be, now is a great time to put those changes into effect as you are planning your year.

This also means that right now is a great time to be thinking ahead about events and things that you have coming up that you would like to promote and how is the best way to get the word out and reach your intended audience(s).  If undergraduate students are your audience, consider adding Instagram to your outreach.  For first-timers, Instagram is much more easy to figure out, so you might want to start there.

Instagram is image-based, so you will want to share photos, great photos!  Here are some ideas:

Good: Photos of you doing what you do

Great: Photos of students doing things

Here are some great examples of WKU departments who are quite simply killing it on Instagram! Click the images to link through to their Instagram profiles to see more.  Maybe these will offer you some great ideas of how to get started!

WKU HRL on Instagram
WKU Housing & Residence Life does a great job of showcasing students moving in to their residence halls and covers programming throughout the year.

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The WKU Honors College showcases students participating in programming, such as H4 and study abroad experiences.

What is going to make a student more excited about being a part of your program? What are the cool things that you do?  How about showcasing those things where students can imagine themselves in that space, doing those things.  Having fun, learning, growing…all the reasons they came to college in the first place.  Instagram is a great place to share things that will inspire and motivate!

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WKU Potter College of Arts & Letters showcases courses within the college and students being active and creative in non-traditional classroom environments.

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Probably one of the BEST campus Instagram accounts is WKU Study Abroad and Global Learning! Here you see students doing all kinds of amazing things all over the world!

One of the great things about Instagram is that you can link it up with your Facebook page and your Twitter profile so when you post an image it goes out everywhere, saving you some time.  Instagram is owned by Facebook, so the platforms work well together.  Instagram enables you to put as much text as you like on your posts, but just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should.  Instagram also makes use of hashtags, which we’ve talked a lot about in the past. Hashtags are used so that social media users and administrators can pull up and follow conversations about specific topics.  So looking at the hashtags in the image above ^^, you could search #hilltoptotheworld and come up with this: many, many photos using this hashtag, posted by several different people, not just @wkustudyabroad:

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#hilltoptotheworld on Instagram

Regramming is also something you can do if you do not have the ability to post frequently with your own images.  It is much like retweeting, but sadly, not nearly as simple.  You can see in the images above ^^ that there are images that are attributed to other Instagram users.  This is done using a separate app that you can attach to your Instagram account such as Repost for iOS or Repost for Android that will enable you to repost others’ Instagram posts to your own feed.  Remember, sometimes the best images that support what it is that you do best, are not always those images you took yourself!

We hope that this basic Instagram 101 will help you get started.  Photos are FUN and students love to see themselves in your feed!

Visuals: Optimizing Images for the Greatest Impact on Social

We’ve mentioned before that including an image in your social media posts can increase engagement up to 400%. People are visual creatures! Images and graphics allow you to appeal to that visual nature. One problem our clients run into often is sizing and resizing images. How do you know what sizes to use? What steps should you take to resize an image without making it look weird?

Resizing images for social media is a tool that will take your content from good to great. Each platform has its own image size specifications, with many platforms having multiple possible image sizes. If you aren’t adept at resizing images, the process of adjusting one image to fit several different sizes can be overwhelming! Not to mention, as platforms update, size specifications change as well. Luckily, we have a few resources and tips that will make this process much easier.

Know Your Specs

In Web Services, we use Sprout Social for content management, analytics, and customer service. They also offer a blog full of tips and tricks for making your social media marketing efforts shine, including this handy guide: The Always Up-to-Date Guide to Social Media Image Sizes. This page is especially useful for placing ads and sponsoring posts on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

It is absolutely beneficial to be up-to-date on the latest sizing specs, but we are all about making things as simple as possible. Ultimately, when we are sharing an image or graphic on social media, we use one size that works best across all of the major platforms: 612×612 (that’s pixels!). We started using this 1:1 ratio when Instagram only allowed square images. They’ve since switched to allow landscape and portrait oriented sizes, but the square image still looks and works the best. If you’re looking to create a graphic or share an image that will work across platforms without adjustment, 612 x 612 pixels is what we recommend.

Utilize Tools

There are plenty of great, easy-to-use, FREE resources online that can help with image resizing and graphic creation. Here are some of the ones we’ve found beneficial:

  • Landscape: allows you to crop, scale, and resize images based on what platform you’re publishing them to
  • Fotor: brower-based basic photo editing
  • Freepik & Flaticon: tons of free-to-use (with attribution) vectors, photos, and icons
  • Piktochart: easy-to-use infographic maker
  • Pixlr: another browser-based image editing site

These tools are all easy to use and helpful for any skill level, beginner to expert. However, if you have access to (and time to learn) Adobe’s Photoshop & Illustrator, you may find that these online tools can be limiting for any projects requiring a more refined design. If you need a graphic created to promote your event, department, or program, our Publications Team offers design services free-of-charge for WKU departments and are an excellent resource as well!

Take the Steps to Resize: Photoshop Crash Course

Cherry Hall 1

Let’s say we want to edit this photo of Cherry Hall to fit Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Instead of resizing the image three different times, we’ll use the WKU-standard social media image size: 612 x 612. We’ll want to open a new file in Photoshop with the correct size specifications:

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After the file is created, we’ll want to Place the image of Cherry Hall into it. Go to File > Place > then select your file from it’s location on your computer.

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After you place the image into the file, it will look something like this:

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The image will place into the file with white space around it; that’s okay! All you have to do is hold shift and drag one of the corners of the image until the white space is gone.

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Then, simply click and hold on the image and drag the image until it is centered. This allows you to play with focal point and perspective of your image a little bit, too! Once you have your image centered, hit enter & you should get something like this:

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Finally, save your file as a .png or .jpg file to your preferred location.

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That’s it! You now have an image that will work across multiple social media platforms.

cherry-hall

You can also use this process when resizing images for photo sliders on your department’s WKU website. If you’d like to learn about what size slider works for your website’s template, please visit IT’s Sample Site.

Image creation and resizing can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools it can be much easier than you’d expect! Creating graphics and sharing images with your social media posts will make them more engaging and serve as a chance to stretch your creative wings. If you have any questions about resizing images or using them effectively in your social media posts, let us know! We’re always available on Facebook, Twitter @WKUCWS, and via email: webservices@wku.edu.

Twitter 101: Social Media Council Meeting, Part III

Twitter is where students are. That is a simple fact. Ask any WKU student what social media platform they use the most, and the answer is overwhelmingly Twitter. Students aren’t the only ones using Twitter though; the platform is popular with all demographics and is a great place to interact with your audience. Luckily, harnessing the power of Twitter to boost engagement and market your department or organization isn’t difficult. Here are five quick tips to using Twitter:

1. Define Your Voice & Set Goals
In general, we recommend maintaining a light, positive, helpful tone on Twitter. You want users to feel comfortable interacting with your account! At WKU, we have many audiences: students, alumni, parents, news media, community leaders…who is your audience? What information do they seek? Provide that information in a fun, yet professional way to put your best foot forward.

As with any marketing plan, setting goals is crucial. Creating short term goals (such as having three meaningful engagements each week) and long term goals (gaining 100 followers each month, increasing engagement by 30%) will help measure your success on the platform and help maintain forward momentum.

2. Listen to Your Audience & Interact
Listen to what your audience is talking about. Social media management platforms like Sprout Social, Tweetdeck, and Hootsuite are very helpful in this task. You can search keywords and phrases related to your department or organization, get alerts when a user Tweets with your hashtags, and easily reply/retweet relevant content to your followers.

Then, take it a step further. Interact with followers by favoriting their Tweets, retweeting their praise, and replying to their questions and comments. Interacting with followers is the best way to build a relationship with them. We encourage positive interaction and customer service, but make note: replying to inflammatory comments usually does more harm than good. Unfortunately, Twitter is a platform where users may vent. Make note of the concern though–it could become a customer service issue!
3. Adopt a Customer Service Approach
Customer Service is the #1 way we utilize Twitter at the institutional level. When students have problems, we like to help solve them. Great customer services goes a long way. If you see a problem you don’t know the answer to, send it over to webservices@wku.edu. We’re always happy to help.

Customer service isn’t only about problem solving. Use Twitter to create positive moments for your user as well! Retweets and mentions are a great way to showcase users who are interacting with you regularly.

Extra Tip: Respond as quickly as you can. Twitter is a fast-paced platform and users are looking for a fast response to questions and concerns. Set up alerts and integrate social listening into your workflow to ensure that no question goes unanswered!

At WKU, we strive to help students solve problems by connecting them to departments and services across campus. A little effort can go a long way!
At WKU, we strive to help students solve problems by connecting them to departments and services across campus. A little effort can go a long way!

4. Use Hashtags Strategically
Hashtags are a great way to aggregate content and promote events, departments, and organizations. If you want to use a hashtag, do a quick search to see if anyone else has already implemented it. An easy way to customize your own hashtag? Add “WKU” to it!

Hashtags should be short, smart tags that others will actually want to use. If you’re unsure of what will work, reach out to Creative Web Services. We’re happy to help find a hashtag that would be effective for your specific audience.

Another great tip is to use hashtags that are already in use. We recommend including #WKU, #WKUEvents, or any of the Class Of… hashtags (#WKU17, #WKU19, #WKU2020, etc.) into your posts. Doing so will enable your posts to be seen by the thousands of users already interacting with those hashtags.

@WKUHRL does a great job capitalizing on the clout that #WKU has already established.
@WKUHRL does a great job capitalizing on the clout that #WKU has already established.

5. Make the Most of Your Content
You’ve spent a lot of time creating great content; make sure it reaches as many followers as possible! Incorporating visuals into your posts make them four times more likely to receive engagement. Not so good at graphics? Our publications team can help create stunning visuals to promote your event, department, or organization completely free of charge.

Including a visual with your posts will increase engagement up to 400%.
Including a visual with your posts will increase engagement up to 400%.

Timing is also crucial when posting on Twitter. The average student follows between 300 & 500 accounts, so messages disappear quickly! Look at your accounts’ analytics and repurpose content. If you are promoting a deadline or event, post about it at least once a week during peak hours to get the most engagement.

Twitter is a lively, engaging platform and a great resource to reach a variety of different audiences. Setting goals, remaining dedicated to customer service, and using smart hashtags and visuals will all help improve engagement and better market your event, department, or organization. Have questions or a Twitter success story? We’d love to hear from you! Tweet @WKUCWS & use our hashtag: #besocialWKU!

Making the Most of Event Promotion: Social Media Council Meeting, Part II

Choosing how and when to market your event can be a bit complicated depending on how much advance notice you have and the scale of the event itself.  No matter the size, every event should have a corresponding communication plan.  These plans don’t have to be formal, but is a best practice to start thinking about how you plan to tell the public about your event from the onset of the planning process, after all, you want your event to be a success!

Make a Plan and Follow Through

Once you have started planning your event, decide what your promotion strategy will be based on:

  • When will your event take place?
  • Who would you like to come to your event?
  • Do you have a budget for marketing?
  • How much time do you have to devote to getting the word out?

There are many variables that accompany event promotion, here we touch on a few that might help you start thinking about your upcoming events in a new way.

Planning a Timeline

We recommend that you plan your events a whole semester out, culminating with commencement of any given semester.  If you have an event date in mind, move backwards through your timeline from completion to inception so that you allow enough time for proper promotion and graphic design.

It is a best practice (especially for larger events) to include a visual representation of your event along with any social posts you put out there.  Fun fact: Visual social posts are 400% more likely to receive clicks than posts with straight text.

If you don’t already have graphics, you may order them (at least a month) in advance of your event from WKU Publications using the online Publication Request Form.  (We do not charge for design services!) We recommend one month so that Publications has time to design your graphic and proof it out to you for any changes you might have.  Then, you will need time to actually promote your event.  How much time depends on the event and the size of the crowd you are hoping to attract.  If you are promoting a large, community-wide event, start 6-weeks to a month out, increasing post frequency as the event date draws near.  Smaller events could be promoted 1-2 weeks out, or even less, depending on the event.

How We Can Help Promote Your Event

WKU Creative Web Services, Marketing and Communications, WKU Publications, WKU News, and WKU Photography are all parts of the Division of Public Affairs.  Collectively, we can help you market your event on the WKU.edu website, the campus calendar, WKU News, campus digital signage, social media, and we also can facilitate media partnerships with local television, radio, cinema, outdoor advertising, and traditional print media. We frequently assist in planning custom marketing outreach plans for departments across campus.  If you are interested in a private consultation, email webservices@wku.edu and we can point you in the right direction based on your specific needs.

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Visit our website to learn more about how to place your event on the WKU campus events calendar or to advertise your event on WKU.edu.

Scheduling Posts in Advance

A good way to save yourself some time on event promotion via social media is to preschedule posts about your event.  Using tools like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Sprout Social or the Facebook Pages App, you can set event information to post during specific dates or times, freeing up some time for you to focus on other things.  If you use Facebook Sponsored Posts, you can even pay a small fee to sponsor your event to a specific audience.

 

With proper advance planning and a strategic focus, event promotion can be a simple process, especially if you take advantage of WKU Public Affairs staff to help you get the word out!  Reach out if we can be of service!

Next post: Twitter 101: Five quick tips to boost engagement and market your department on Twitter.

#BeSocialWKU

 

New Tools and Increasing Engagement: Social Media Council Meeting, Part I

We had a great turnout for the 2nd Social Media Council meeting today and are excited that everyone is off to a great start for 2016!

It wouldn’t be a Council meeting without housekeeping items, and this time we’d like to remind everyone to visit wku.edu/wkusocial to join the Council (if you have not already), and to add your social media accounts to the WKU Social Media Directory (wku.edu/social).

We would also like to request that you remove any obsolete or outdated social media accounts.  If you’re not sure if you have an old account floating around out there, a quick Google search can do the trick (ie. “WKU Department of XYZ on Twitter”).  If you’re not sure of old passwords or access information, we can try to help you get to the bottom of them.  Contact webservices@wku.edu for help.  REMEMBER: It’s better to not have a social presence out there AT ALL than to have one that you don’t use or keep updated.

Some useful tools are available for you to use when maintaining your social accounts and department pages.  First, the Facebook Pages App helps you manage your brand pages right from your mobile device.  No more logging out and logging in.  It’s all right there on your phone.  You can post, comment, view direct messages, schedule future posts, and view analytic data.  It’s a great resource!  Download it from your app store today!

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Next, you might have noticed a new feature on Facebook that was unveiled this week – Facebook Reactions. Now you can do so much more than “Like” a post, you can choose from several other emotions to express your reaction to various content.  What’s more, reactions are trackable in your Facebook analytics, so you can even track the sentiment that is tied to your posts to help you decide what kinds of content work best for you!

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Finally, Instagram is now offering you the ability to toggle between Instagram accounts (Insert Rousing Hooray Here)!  It has historically been a real drag to have to log in and log out to make sure you are posting to the correct account. Thank you Instagram for FINALLY making this function available!  A quick update of your Instagram software should show you a nice little dropdown at the top of your account page.  You’re welcome!

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Increase Followers and Engagement

Probably one of the most frequent questions we get in our office is, “How can I attract more followers?”  More specifically, “How can I get students to follow me?”  This is probably the magic question among all social media community managers.  The simple answer is: It depends.  Content is king in the social stratosphere.  Sharing relevant, timely content that adds value to any given conversation makes a huge difference.

It is crucial to remember that developing a strong presence and a strong following on social media requires TIME and EFFORT.  If you don’t have time to include social media sharing, listening and responding into your day, then you will be missing great opportunities to connect with your audience.

Ask any student – they are BUSY.  They don’t want us infiltrating their space. They don’t use social media the way we do as professionals, or even how those of us in an older demographic use it.  They are talking to their friends and following brands they like.  They most likely are not out there looking for us, unless they have a reason – unless they NEED something from us.  The best way to get your students to follow you is to consistently provide excellent content that contributes in some way to their student experience.  Can you make their experience easier, or better?  If so, things that make life easier make very shareable content.

It is important to know your audience and to ASK them what they want to see from you.  Take an informal poll – what would they like to see from you?  Then try it.  Remember: VALUE – what can you contribute that will be of value to them that they will then want to share with others?

Follow backs help grow your audience, and utilizing the WKU networks do as well.  We have an incredible reach on our institutional accounts.  Take advantage of that reach!  Tweet your posts to @wku and we will retweet them!  Share your posts with WKU on Facebook or Instagram @WKU or @WKUEvents.  We’d love to share your content to help spread the word!

The best and most important way you can serve your constituents is to use a tool like Hootsuite, TweetDeck, or SproutSocial to “listen” to their commentary about your brand.  You can set up keyword “columns” on these services and search “wku website” or “wku library” and see any and every mention of this combination of words throughout Twitter.  Here you can identify conversation trends, customer service issues, and respond to them right there inside the tool. We could not survive without these tools.  We will plan an upcoming webinar to help you learn how to use them and use them well!

In our next post, we will talk about how you can make a content plan to promote upcoming events and activities.

#BeSocialWKU!

#ChatWKU: Reaching Incoming Students with Twitter Chats

By now, you’ve probably heard of Twitter. The fast-paced social media platform is based around Tweets, consisting of 140 characters or less. Users have the ability to share photos, links, and videos inside Tweets, as well as Favorite and/or Retweet items. Twitter is an ideal platform for event promotion, quick announcements, and hashtag campaigns.

In Creative Web Services, we’ve seen success using Twitter as a customer service tool for prospective students through our #ChatWKU Twitter Chat Series. In fact, the series was recently given an Award of Excellence in the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District III’s Online Innovation/Experimentation category. Naturally, we’re excited about this recognition, but we’re also excited that it proves a point we’ve been making for awhile: working together makes us better.

Twitter Chat Ad ExampleFirst, a little background: The #ChatWKU Twitter Chat series began in Fall 2015 as a recruitment tool for prospective and admitted WKU students. Each month, the chat revolves around a topic relevant to the recruitment cycle (campus services, housing, financial aid, orientation, etc.). Creative Web Services hosts the chats using the current “Class of…” Twitter account, following a prewritten script, by Tweeting questions with Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. The chat’s guest (tweeting from his/her department’s account) tweets the replies with A1, A2, A3. WKU Admissions counselors are an integral part of the process as well, as they field questions that come in from students in real-time.

It may seem like a lot of work, but there are a few things that make the process simple.

  • Planning a script in advance ensures that there is a constant stream of communication. It also helps us guarantee that each question and answer will contain the two hashtags we use: #ChatWKU & #WKU2020/#WKU19 (depending on the class we are recruiting). Hashtagging is paramount in a Twitter Chat—users read and participate in the chat by following the hashtag.
  • Tracking hashtag activity is also how the Admissions Counselors are able to see and answer questions from students who Tweet during the chat.
  • To streamline this process on the back end, we utilize third-party social media management platforms like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck that allow a user to see multiple columns at once. During a typical Twitter Chat, we have columns for each account and hashtag involved, plus columns dedicated to replies/mentions…in case students forget to include the hashtag in their Tweet.
Tweetdeck is a third-party social media management site that allows users to "listen" via columns.
Tweetdeck is a third-party social media management site that allows users to “listen” via columns.

Since its inception, we’ve hosted 13 different #ChatWKU Twitter Chats, with questions received from over 100 students. We’ve also received positive feedback from additional students who have followed along with the chats but did not submit any questions. Each chat nets anywhere from 50 to 150 new followers for the “Class of…” account hosting the chat, with additional followers gained for the guest accounts and Admissions Counselors involved as well.

But why do Twitter Chats work for communicating with students? Well, there are a few strong reasons:

  • Twitter is where students are. The 2015 Chegg-Uversity Social Admissions Report indicates that 55% of teens use Twitter, with that number rising on average since Twitter’s inception.
  • Students can have their questions answered…fast. The Social Admissions Report also concludes that 61% of students expect a response within a day of contacting a college representative. Twitter Chats allow students to answer their questions and receive an answer within minutes.
  • Twitter Chats bring departments together. Rather than sending students to multiple departments and having them navigate the recruitment process on their own, the #ChatWKU Twitter Chat series brings representatives from relevant departments to them in a unique, informal, personal way. Here’s an excerpt from one of our recent chats:

As the #ChatWKU Twitter Chat series continues, Creative Web Services plans to branch out and include groups like Study Abroad & Global Learning, Dining and Nutrition, and academic departments. We’re working to a comprehensive look at life at WKU and showcase the services and support available to our students. If you’d like to get involved in the series, host a Twitter Chat of your own, or have other ideas on creatively utilizing social media, let us know! Follow @wkucws on Twitter, and email webservices@wku.edu.

View transcripts of previous #ChatWKU Twitter Chats on the WKU Storify.