It’s been a long time since students have set foot on their university grounds. And this year, many of them will take their very first steps on campus. That sets up a challenge for universities to reconsider their communication strategy. Now, they should find new, innovative ways to create a sense of community and engage students within the university walls.
With the global pandemic came a widespread shift to distance learning and digital communication. In this new era, social media has become the primary tool for students’ interaction. It comes as no surprise to us, as 98% of students use social media daily, and some even refer to it as one of their most trusted sources when choosing their school. So how can higher education benefit from social media?
Social media allows universities to connect with various audiences, whether current or potential students, parents, campus staff or alumni. If you put enough effort into developing a social media strategy, it will help you unite people, spark conversations and create a sense of belonging.
The best way to leverage your social media efforts and recognise user-generated content (UGC) from your students is to use a social media aggregator that collects content from various social media platforms and displays it on a unified feed. Or, as we call it, a social wall.
Pair social walls with reliable campus-wide digital signage, and you’ll get a perfect medium for delivering information, engaging students and starting conversations.
How to utilise social media displays?
Social media displays can become a central point of your daily communication on campus. Here are a few ideas on how you can engage people on different levels and diversify content on your social walls:
Welcome your freshmen
Let new students feel like a part of a community by running a social media campaign. Encourage them to share their orientation and move-in photos through their social media profiles using a specific hashtag. Then, collect that content and display it on digital signage across the campus.
Acknowledge your students’ accomplishments, share their digital projects and celebrate school milestones. Not only will it let them know their work is valued, but it can also help graduates showcase their skills to potential employers.
Bridge the gap between different departments by encouraging every one of them to post content about their research, events and endeavours. Promote departmental social media feeds and let people from other faculties know what’s happening around campus.
Use them as info hubs
Inform staff and students of daily, weekly and upcoming events. Share announcements and reminders. Highlight your sponsors and the internship/employment opportunities they grant.
Use them at events
Social media displays serve as great ice-breakers during in-person and hybrid events. People tend to flock to them as to the campfires and start interacting over the displayed content. More than that, every attendee can get their own 15 minutes of fame by submitting their posts.
How to effectively collect and display content for different purposes?
The best way to track posts throughout different social media platforms is to use a hashtag. You can use multiple hashtags to put together content from various university departments, social media campaigns, events, students and staff members. Remember that it’s important to communicate your hashtag to the audience properly. You can do so not only through your social media but also physically, with flyers, posters, and newsletters on campus.
In some cases, when you want to set up multiple walls to separate topics or campaigns, it’s worth using more than one social wall — for instance, using one for the graduation ceremony and another for official announcements. With tools like Walls.io, you can set up multiple walls and add different people as moderators. This way you can separate the displays by goals and target groups.
How are universities using social media displays to achieve their goals?
An excellent example of a campus-based social media display is Case Western Reserve University. Their digital screen, on which their two social walls are displayed, is designed to keep the community informed and connected to all that is happening on campus and in the greater Cleveland area. Itʼs the very first thing you see when you enter the heart of the CWRU campus.
Aside from using the media wall as an engagement tool, the university also offers event organisers a temporary use of it — a very nice benefit when renting out a building as an event space.
Give it a try!
No matter your goal, whether to set up a brand new social wall or to adjust the one you already have, there’s a lot we can all learn from other universities’ initiatives.
Students are coming back to campus after having several online semesters, so on-sight engagement is more important than ever. Thankfully, you can utilise some incredibly beneficial digital tools and bring them to your campus. Such as a social media display, a valuable companion tool for higher education marketers.
This post was contributed by Aleksandra Petrash of Walls.io