There is a good reason why a social media audit is essential for any higher education marketer. Your social media has become the #1 place where prospective students get their first taste of campus life, where current students engage with their peers, and where alumni reconnect with their alma mater.
The vastness of this landscape can be confusing, and because of that, your message can get ignored. An audit helps to identify and solve the tiny invisible knots that hold you back in a safe and risk-free way.
How do you conduct an impressive social media audit in a reasonable amount of time? Well, you need a blueprint. Luckily, you can now download a helpful free checklist that can save time spent on it by 3x-5x.
🍹Afterparty: the best part comes after the audit
At the end of the checklist, you'll also see how a tool like Flockler makes it easier to show your institution's full richness and relevance. Flockler seamlessly embeds social media content across your digital properties. The solution has a simple yet profound effect on engagement based on proven laws governing social proof. Inspiring real-life examples from Harvard University and many others illustrate how that works.
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Before you start, lay the foundation with clear objectives
For an effective higher education social media audit, clear and concise goals are essential because the amount of data even a small marketing team faces can be bewildering. Thus, having well-defined goals is akin to having a comforting lighthouse in a stormy sea. The planning provides direction, ensures alignment, and increases your chances of success.
🎯 Understand Your Purpose:
Get into the heart of what you aim to achieve with your social media channels.
- 🎯 Are you aiming to increase enrollment?
- 🤝 Do you want to foster a sense of community?
- 🎉 Are you prioritizing promoting campus events?
- 🏆 Should you focus on showcasing academic achievements?
- 💬 Do you need to engage the alumni and the public?
- 🎓 Is there more you can do to meet student expectations?
- 🆕 Do you desire to showcase the latest trends in higher education?
- 👥 And, finally, remember faculty and staff experiences (hey, that includes you!)
Best practice: write down the three key objectives you want to achieve in order of priority. Writing down helps you to commit to a limited set of achievable goals.
Understanding the core objectives will create a more focused audit, enabling you to measure the right metrics and make informed decisions.
But you can take it a step further. You can use a free hashtag generator tool to generate hashtags that reflect your key objectives. When you analyze your content, you can add relevant hashtags to align your old and new content with your redefined goals.
Furthermore, Flockler can display relevant content in its correct context on your website, app, or intranet by filtering content by hashtags. That is important because scientific studies highlighted in the classic book “Priceless” by William Poundstone underline that context is the foundation of successful communication. Here’s how Harvard does it to make each graduation ceremony into a lifelong memory alumni can access forever:
🧑🏽🤝🧑🏿 Define your audiences
Every college or university has many audience segments - prospective students, current students, alumni, faculty, and the academic community. Noting these segments' different digital journeys and preferences is crucial before you start your audit.
The write-up will unveil nuanced insights that you would otherwise miss. You will also start to see how easy it is for different audiences to misunderstand your communication.
User journeys can feel overwhelming, so feel free to ask a colleague to help you or take it on as a team task in a small, fun retreat or workshop. It is well worth it!
Once you examine an audience segment’s behavior, you will quickly notice how social media extends beyond the boundaries of social media platforms. Social media intertwines your website, digital signage, apps, and architecture.
Best practice: modern analytics tools like Google Analytics 4 can define audiences based on groups of users to your site or app, like “Students on mobile devices.”
With these audiences, you can monitor how effectively you increase traffic, time on site, engagement, and conversions for each audience. As well as map in-depth user journeys.
You can then combine what you learn from your website with what you can see with tools like Flockler’s Analytics add-on and tools like Instagram’s own analytics to see commonalities: do you see how most popular influencers and content in Flockler or Instagram match with pages your audiences visit on your website or app and for how long? Is the engagement rate comparable?
Seeing patterns between your social media and digital platforms emerge is magical.
🎓 Align Content with Institutional Values:
Whether improving engagement with prospective students or celebrating faculty accomplishments, your social media channels should reflect and bolster your institution’s mission and values. “Mission and Values” are often just a forgotten sub-page on your site.
We can do better. Your entire educational community wins when your socials show you live your values.
Best practice: user-generated content (UGC) offers one of the best ways to align social media with your values. How do you do that? It is pretty simple. List down the three values you want to focus on from a broader list like Carnegie Mellon offers. Then, add 1-3 content types that bring that particular value to life. We offer examples of different types of UGC that can help you get started. As a result, you show your students, faculty, alumni, and staff living the values you champion.
📈 Set Measurable Targets:
Establish quantitative and qualitative targets. How many new followers do you aim to attract? What level of engagement do you envision? Setting measurable targets provides a clear benchmark for evaluating your social media performance, setting the stage for continual refinement and excellence.
There is a catch. Your preparation for a social media audit should include measurable targets for two different aspects:
Goals you want to reach on each social media platform with your content.
Goals you want to accomplish with your content on your own platforms long-term.
The second aspect is essential because non-paid content on social media platforms has an increasingly shorter lifespan. Whereas the same content placed strategically on your site or app in a beautiful social media wall or carousel can continue to drive engagement for years.
Thus, it pays to mark down 5-7 great potential places to add social media to your digital properties. You can use your previous work to identify your goals, values, and types of content to guide you in your selection.
Best practice: All social platforms offer built-in analytics. More meaningfully, when you embed social media content on your website, intranet, or apps with Flockler, our Analytics add-on can help you see which content and influencers give you the most impact when that content is placed in a relevant context because that influences behavior on its own.
🌐 Benchmark Against Peers:
Benchmarking your social media performance against similar institutions provides valuable insights into where you stand in the digital landscape.
Professionals call it establishing a competitive set. However, it's not about competition but about understanding the standards you need to meet and identifying areas of improvement. Social media monitoring tools make it easy for competitors in any field to learn from each other continuously; higher education is no exception.
Remember, as much as you learn from your competition, they will learn from you in return.
So, select competitors carefully based on similarities in size, geographical location, program offerings, and digital objectives. Benchmarking against a relevant competitive set provides a realistic lens through which to view your social media performance.
A solution like Flockler can be your companion as you delve further, offering a seamless way to aggregate, analyze, and embed social media content.
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