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We would also like to request that you remove any obsolete or outdated social media accounts.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.