Dr. Corie M. Martin is the Manager of Creative Web Services for the WKU Division of Public Affairs

Dr. Corie M. Martin is the Manager of Creative Web Services for the WKU Division of Public Affairs

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!

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!