Author: Brandy Beucler
An Effective Social Media Strategy Can Be Extremely Valuable for Higher Ed Institutions
Your social media content strategy will vary in different industries and with different audiences. There really isn’t any cookie-cutter approach to creating the ideal strategy for your business, but the these 5 steps will aid you in creating your own social media plan regardless of your industry. A good social media content strategy will provide you with a foundation to measure and track over time for continuous improvements. The goal is to build an engaged online following what will drive your brand, generate revenue, and connect with your audience (Aboulhosn, 2021).
Step 1: Know Your Audience & Their Social Media Habits
Marketers are always looking for ways to better understand their audience. Social media is a great place to start. Making assumptions on who the prospective audience is and their values is a big mistake for marketers as it doesn’t always yield optimal results (Kenan, 2022). The good news is much of what you need to know about your audience to influence your social media marketing strategy is already available. You just have to know where to look.
Marketers can quickly research their audience and much of what you need to know about your audience is already available through publicly available sources like Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics.
Remember: Different Platforms Attract Different Audiences
Understanding the nuances of each social network can help guide where your college or university content strategy needs to be positioned to be effective at reaching your audience.
With so many platforms out there, it can be hard to know where to start. However, if you have a strong understanding of the different social networks and what they are used for, this will help you make better decisions about where your college or university should be focused (Kenan, 2022).
Step 2: Set Clear Goals & Outline How You’ll Track Progress
Setting content goals is the second step towards a long-term social media strategy. This will help you start planning out the types of content you’ll create, and have your social media posts work towards impacting your key performance indicators (KPIs).
Social media content needs to serve your business goals. Make sure the goals are behind your efforts and you have a clear measurable objective. This step will help you set up a method for measuring your success and help you demonstrate how your efforts are moving the needle.
This process involves digging deep into your brand values and the audience you want to reach, as well as researching your competition and industry trends.
The goal of content marketing is to create content that serves the needs of your future students. This means that you need to know what they are looking for and how to provide it. Digging deep into your brand values and researching the audience you are targeting will provide you with insights. You can use tools like Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics, or even an industry-specific tool like HubSpot’s website survey tool to gather more information about your future students.
Once you have some data about who you’re trying to reach, start thinking about what posts will help them find what they’re looking for. For example, if one of your marketing goals is to increase enrollment in a particular program from social media than you might want to create posts that move people from Facebook to a program landing page or another part of your marketing funnel (Aboulhosn, 2021).
Step 3: Develop a Social Media Content Calendar with Themes, Types of Posts, and a Schedule
One of the most important parts of your social media content strategy is to create an effective content calendar. This can help you determine what types of posts work best, establish a daily routine and schedule, and help you avoid post burnout. Success on social media isn’t achieved overnight. It takes time, effort and planning to develop a content strategy that will help your brand thrive (Aboulhosn, 2021).
Monitoring on a cadence will uncover what content performs best. Once you’ve identified your primary goals, it’s time to build a social media content calendar. A calendar will help you take a big-picture approach to social media content planning and visualize your ideas in a way that makes the strategy easier to execute.
Your content calendar will be a hub for everything you post, so keep that in mind when building it. When planning content, don’t be afraid to repurpose content and schedule it across different social media platforms to get the most out of it; you will want to make adjustments to the content for better alignment on each platform. Conducting frequent quarterly audits and monitoring the data from your followers can help guide you towards continuous improvement. Consider what types of content perform well on that platform based on your audit. Keep in mind that there are optimal times to post on each platform depending on your audience (Kirsch, 2022).
Step 4: Create visuals for each post that support the brand’s visual identity
What is a visual identity?
A visual identity is the visible representation of a brand, from the logo and colors to the website and design of campus buildings. It encompasses everything you can see in connection to the college or university.
Visual identity plays an essential role in branding, so it’s important to understand what makes up an identity and how to create one. Brand identity gives future students the feelings they belong to your college or university, so it’s made up of everything that creates the brand as a whole. It includes your values, mission statement, tone and voice, style guides, brand persona and unique value props (Kirsch, 2022).
A strong visual identity shows people what your college or university values, why they should choose you, and helps establish an emotional connection to your brand identity. Your brand identity is the core of your college or university’s personality. If you don’t have all the aspects of your brand laid out, your visual identity can flounder from a lack of direction and cohesion.
Define your Visual Identity
When defining your visual identity, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve. This will enable you to create graphics that will be simple and easy for readers to understand your message and intention.
Understand the Principles of Design
Once you’ve defined your visual identity, it’s important to understand the principles of design so that you can create graphics that are both beautiful and effective in communicating your message.
Tell a Story
Stories inspire and motivate. They are more memorable over facts and can draw future students in with relatable and meaningful experiences. Storytelling is at the heart of inbound marketing and it sets vibrant brands apart from the competition and creates loyal brand advocates (Decker, 2022). Storytelling plays an essential role in creating engaging content that attracts future students by strengthening relationships and providing a sense of belonging.
As your brand grows, consistency becomes even more important across all departments. From ad campaigns and conference decks to social media posts or printed one-pagers, it’s easy to let visual style slip. But creating a brand style guide and outlining the specific visual identity can help the college and university maintain a consistency in visuals.
Step 5: Measure, Analyze, and Repeat
The last step to an effective social media content strategy is measuring the results of all of your efforts. Proper tracking is going to be vital to creating a strategy with longevity. Keeping detailed metrics will help you tweak and optimize your plan over time. Ideally, you should analyze your content every month to keep track of what’s working (Aboulhosn, 2021). When analyzing your data, take a top-level view of your content over a given period. Take a look at how each piece of content performed and what variables it had working with it. Assess how well the content contributed to the overall content goals that you set in step two. A few of the most important social media metrics to measure include:
Awareness – How many people did you reach?
Engagements – How many people engaged with your posts?
ROI – How much did you earn from this effort?
Aboulhosn, S. (2021, September 20). How to craft an effective social media content strategy. Sprout Social. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-content-strategy/
Decker, A. (2022, July 1). The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling. HubSpot Blog. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/storytelling
Kenan, J. (2022, December 6). Social Media Marketing: What it is and how to build your strategy. Sprout Social. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-marketing-strategy/#target-audience
Kirsch, K. (2022, March 30). Why your brand needs a strong visual identity [+ 5 examples to inspire you]. HubSpot Blog. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-identity-design
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