How To Use Social Media for Academic and Public Relations Purposes.
By Tobi Adono
I find Erin Pavlina’s quote on the use of social media quite amusing, “they say it takes 7 exposures to a product Ad before you will want to buy it, but after 8,743 spam emails from Viagra, I still don’t want it”. This shows that marketing is not just about shoving the brand in people’s faces, instead, it is about being receptive.
Talking about the use of social media for Academics and PR, I do not mean social jamboree. I mean the conscious targeting of content for precise purposes and individuals.
Given the quick embrace of digital technology, the graph below shows the higher tendency of University students to adopt digital / social media learning based on the use of E-library.
In this article, I will be discussing how social media can be used for academic orientation and for PR purpose. First, let us examine it for PR purposes.
Social Media for PR Purposes.
Good Public Relations is the first point of call for marketing and attraction of prospects. Social media for PR is a top priority for any institution that wants to attract the right set of prospects. Below, I have shared some points on strategies for creating good brand awareness with the use of social media. These strategies are activity-based. Hence, the expertise of digital marketing service providers are required for optimal result. See the precepts below:
Give Virtual Tour Of The Campus.
It is almost impossible for all students who show interest in your school to physically come to inspect your premises before applying. A research surveyed about 7,000 high school students and the report derived showed that 68% use social media for researching University choices.
Facebook and Twitter ranked top as the go-to sites for those research. In this regard, Pinterest and Instagram also perform well. Therefore, preparing a virtual tour of your campus environment can attract prospects who are researching on institutions to send an application to. This is achieved by sharing images/videos of dormitories, dining halls, classroom sessions, sports activities or any exciting location in your campus. The intention is to create buzzing discussions for current students and alumnus while attracting prospects.
Sharing posts from a student’s perspective, exclusive ‘insider’ moments and behind-the-scene clips could also included. This is the Attraction stage of the conversion funnel; your website is a good avenue for achieving this.
Sharing Throwback Pictures and Videos That Celebrate Students
This piques the interest of prospects searching the web for interesting schools. Posts like the screenshot above portrays a feeling that learning is fun.
It also serves as the right platform for prospects to make inquiries. Inquiries about opening events, procedures etc. This is the Engagement stage. However, you are not to mix business with pleasure. You cannot continue to discuss registration processes between tweets about student’s artworks. Here, you are expected to pick out prospects and inquirers and they should be directed to the proper platform for more engagement. This leads them to the Propelling stage.
Provide Adequate Information and Call-To-Actions
To Propel your prospects, you need to give them adequate information. Just enough details to make them want more after which your call-to-action sets in. For example, on Twitter, you could direct all admission related inquiries to use a special hashtag, or create a Facebook Page for that. Your aim here is to direct them to an appropriate landing page. The final destination should be your website where they can begin the registration process.
Connect and Give Directional Information
After Propelling them to action, you don’t just leave them there, it is required that you stay in touch with them. This is the Connect stage. Now, you have converted the prospects. You need to guide them through the orientation process; the Departmental and / or faculty Heads can take over from here.
Now, let’s run through using social media for academic purposes.
Social Media for Academic Purposes.
With the prevalence of digital media, human activities have been simplified, the same also applies to academic activities. Below, I will discuss a list of social tools/apps which can be leveraged on for simplifying academic processes. These tools are effectively used by youths as a Pew Report corroborated this by saying, “Across the world, the adoption of technologies is consistently more common among the young and the well-educated”. The graph below emphasizes that point.
Social media’s currency is sharing. The fact that you can share contents and data with others in real-time makes social media super effective. To tap into this, institutions need to provide facilities for lecturers to record and share tutorial videos on YouTube. This will foster a timeless learning experience for students, Lynda is a valid example of this. Leveraging on the ‘Playlists’ function in Lynda, Departments can create a list of visual resources for use by students.
Playlists can be made public or private for Departments or Faculties, they can also be shared with individuals or groups. Finally, students can copy a playlist that has been shared with them and add to it or modify it for their specific needs.
Presentation and Research
SlideShare is a platform for sharing presentation files. It is a Departmental official account that helps students learn better by sharing or downloading course-related presentations. It makes it easy to share research, gather and share data collected during field work in a presentation format.
Tertiary Institutions don’t have to send delegates out to perform surveys since an official account on platforms like SurveyMonkey and Google Forms can help with research and surveys for everyone’s use.
Document Creation and Social Bookmarking
Leveraging on platforms like Google Docs and DropBox for editing and sharing documents and files, Faculties and Departments can make a vast array of materials available for their students. They can also enlist academic bookmarking apps which help them create resources that students can use for research purposes.
All the above listed points are called business process digitalization. It means simplifying your business processes using digital tools.
Subsequently, I will discuss how specific social media accounts for a University can be managed so don’t be too far from me.