As our team at Circa Interactive create social media calendars and content ideas for our higher education clients, we’ve come across countless other universities who are exceeding the mark with their campaigns. Over the course of the next few months, I will highlight some of the best examples of content created by higher education marketers. Below I’ve chosen a few exceptional posts (in no particular order) that exemplify what higher education marketers should strive to achieve. It’s essential for universities to remain creative and timely in order to remain visible and engage with current and prospective students, creating a virtual and interactive university experience.
Syracuse does an excellent job of putting a personalized touch on their Twitter account in a creative and playful way, as you can see below with their image of the campus designed to resemble a puzzle piece. What their posts prove is that a simple message can be transformed and brought to life through customization and ingenuity. They also often use the hashtag #OrangeNation to foster a sense of community and school pride.
One of my favorite parts of Syracuse’s Twitter is their @WorkingOrange account, which regularly features alumni who live tweet their workday and answer questions at the same time. This is a clever way to celebrate the successes of their alumni and a great way to connect them to current students who will soon be in their position.
I love the way that Harvard uses time-lapse videos to showcase their campus and student body. This video in particular was a welcome back video that shows the bustling campus life, while hinting at their storied history.
Harvard is constantly using the the power of video to bring the university experience and their brand to life. The clip below shows a day in the life of a first-year student at Harvard. It’s a short and sweet video that humanizes the Harvard Facebook page even more by allowing the viewer a glimpse into the rudimentary parts of a Harvard student life that can appear extraordinary to prospective students.
It’s no surprise that MIT’s world-renowned research programs play a large role in their social media strategy. By utilizing research from faculty, they’re not only expanding and showcasing their thought leadership, but they’re also helping to promote and push the professors’ valuable research into the community. The key is that they use eye-catching graphics to accompany studies that can appeal to a large audience, as shown below.
The Instagram photo below shows the beautiful Stanford campus while encouraging other students to submit photos that they’ve taken themselves. Stanford’s strategy is focusing on something that all higher education marketers should consider while creating content: How can I find a way to engage with my audience? By incorporating photos taking by students, their Instagram feed becomes a community-generated database of striking imagery that keeps their audience involved.
Seen #AtStanford2014: Night lights. Did you take a noteworthy campus photo this year? Post it on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, with hashtag, by Dec. 15. We’ll publish our favorite submissions over the holiday break, when we look back at the highlights of Farm life 2014. Credit: Aaron Kehoe #Stanford #FarmPhoto #contest A photo posted by Stanford University (@stanford) on
I gravitate toward the photo below because it’s not only visually appealing and attention grabbing, but it tells a story and promotes the fascinating research of a Stanford faculty member at the same time. This highlights that when it comes to higher education marketing content, it’s important to focus on storytelling.
Margot Gerritsen, professor of energy resources engineering in the #Stanford School of Earth Sciences, uses #art to make complex mathematical networks “sing” — to represent the excitement she feels when looking at them. Here, a #visualization of the subject headings for every book in the Library of Congress. See more: http://stanford.io/1r1iKui A photo posted by Stanford University (@stanford) on
5. University of Wisconsin–Facebook
This video by University of Wisconsin-Madison is a unique and light-hearted way to promote alumni donations through their “fill-the-hill” campaign, where a pink flamingo lawn ornament represents each alumni gift that was made. While schools often run the risk of coming off as irritating when trying to repeatedly collect donations, UW-Madison figured out a way to accomplish their goals in a non-intrusive manner through the power of video, while incorporating a long standing school tradition.
And finally the video below shows people how students at UW-Madison are involved in the community, rather than just telling them. This creates a much more sharable story than plain text would.
Caroline Khalili is a PR and marketing specialist at Circa Interactive, and she is an expert in developing content for higher education marketing campaigns. A 2011 graduate of the University of Oregon, Caroline now calls San Diego home.