Social Media and Your Higher Ed Website

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Marketing & Recruitment

Social Media and Your Higher Ed Website

“Everything is connected to everything else.”

That’s Barry Commoner’s first law of ecology. Years ago, I repurposed it as mStoner’s first law of branding.

What it means, in essence, is that continuity and consistency count in today’s organizational communications. Do your communications look like they come from the same organization? Is there a family feel between print, web, email headers? And how about the voice of those other communications?

The same holds true for your social channels. Your social presence doesn’t occur in a vacuum on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Snapchat, but is also connected to everything else you do. Most importantly, it should be connected to your website. Unlike the social channels, which you merely rent from private corporations who make their own rules for them, you actually own your .edu web presence.

To incorporate social on your website, you’ll need:

  1. Established, official social channels
    Take ownership of your social media channels. Make sure they are robust, effectively managed, and regularly updated with appropriate content that will engage people on that channel. Does this mean your institution should have presence on every one of the established (and emerging!) social channels? Probably not: this leads to my second point.

  2. At least one channel that's managed effectively
    My #1 rule for social media: "Don't be everywhere until you can be awesome everywhere you are." Simply put, don't bite off more than you can chew. Choose the channel or channels that you can make awesome and make sure they are continually monitored and managed. Practically, this means Facebook and/or Twitter and/or LinkedIn and/or YouTube. New channels can always be added once you've mastered existing channels.

  3. Connections between these channels and your website
    Make it easy for your audiences to connect with your social channels via your website, and with your website via your social channels. Don't make them work to find the information. Elizabethtown College does a great job driving traffic to their social channels through a fat footer with embedded social links that appears throughout their site:
    Elizabethtown College

  4. Ability to curate content on your site
    You can curate social content on your website in a variety of ways manually. And you can also automagically create a social media directory on your site through OmniUpdate's OU Mashup™. It pulls content from your social channels and creates a central social hub. You can use the same tool combined with keywords and hashtags to add social content to sites or pages dedicated to (say) admissions or fundraising.

  5. Facilitate content sharing from your site
    A well-designed website should allow for sharing of content from a variety of social channels: visitors shouldn't have to navigate away to tweet a news story or share something on Facebook. Don't make them work too hard: put the sharing functionality right on your site.

Through your social channels, you can reinforce your institution's compelling brand through powerful, creative stories. Then, make sure visitors to your website know what folks on Facebook and Twitter are saying about you. Go for it: be awesome.

Michael Stoner

About the Blogger
Michael Stoner is president and co-founder of mStoner, Inc., a leading marketing communications agency serving higher ed—and an OmniUpdate partner. For a comprehensive list of thought-leadership works, visit mStoner's website and blog for more branding, marketing, and web resources.

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