How to Increase Social Media Engagement – A Guide For Academic Institutions
With growing competition in the market there is an urge to look for innovative ways of increasing brand outreach and customer engagement. This has led many academic institutions to consider social media as a powerful medium to engage audiences.
Education sector has a rich content base to market. However, earlier they did not have ways to welcome audiences and engage them in a conversation around their brand. But with the advent of social media technologies you can blast out your content and truly engage with your potential students.
Academic institutions today are leveraging the power of social platforms to generate leads and increase brand awareness or provide counselling services. In all these activities, engagement is a key social media metric that needs to be tracked for measuring performance.
In this blog post, we will cover various facets of social media engagement, suggest ways to improve your social media engagement, look at some of the best social tools and finally will see how we can measure our social media engagement level.
Let’s begin our step-by-step social media strategy guide and see how we can grow our social media engagement.
Do you know what social media engagement is?
Social media engagement can be defined as a set of user actions measured in terms of likes, follows, shares, comments, retweets etc. In simple terms it means a set of measurable interactive actions taken by a user with your social media account using above mentioned actions. Your target audience interactions with you on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn etc. is social media engagement. Engagement metrics are crucial for measuring the effectiveness of your social media campaigns and help you accomplish campaign targets such as generating leads or getting final conversions.
Your social media engagement is a barometer of your strong or for that matter weak relationship with potential and current students. Engaging the student community on social media can make radical difference in increasing the trust in your academic brand.
Now, let us see what are some of the ways through which you can increase social media engagement across platforms?
How do you do it?
Of course with an action plan in mind.
You got it right. Before starting you need to develop a strategic plan of action for generating social media engagement. This will help to set the road map and fix targets that you intend to achieve at every stage. Although the engagement plan will depend upon the focus areas of an institute, however its broad contours will remain same across colleges.
Here are a few key points that any effective social media engagement plan can have.
#1. Set targets
Target setting is an essential strategy for any venture. It gives clarity on ‘what’ and ‘how’ aspects of any assignment. What is the intended outcome that you want to achieve with your social media engagement plan will depend upon your institutional requirements. Hence you should have clarity on the purpose of engagement with your followers and what you intend to gain from those interactions.
For example, during admission season, it is important to educate aspirants about admission process and focus on answering related queries. All the information related to the institute should be latest especially things like placement, ranking etc. You should clearly outline interesting aspects of your college to engage admission seekers on social platforms.
You can also set targets in terms of lead generation and brand value enhancement.
All these goals will ultimately help in enhancing your social media engagement.
#2. How well you know your audience
Sound understanding of your target audience and its demographic profile is a must for an effective social media engagement. Identification of the potential group of audience and its target market must be done in the planning phase itself. That’s because you need to know your audience’s need and interest before developing the social copy, posting frequency etc. Only then you will be able to design engaging social posts.
For knowing your potential buyers (in this case applicants), spend some time in understanding their aspirational and informational needs – why they want to pursue a certain course or how they select a particular college to pursue their career dreams. And then see how you can use social media to start engagement around those talking points.
By listening to the voices of your potential students, you’ll be able to create new avenues for generating online engagement.
Once you know who all are your audiences and what they want, design creative content strategy to engage them. For example, frequently sharing content related to institutional USPs on Facebook can be a great idea to educate your audience about your academic brand.
If the content you share on social media helps to furnish the information they are looking for in order to take an informed career choice, you can be sure of a strong social media engagement.
Content you post should be topical and relevant enough to trigger interest in your brand. Do not just follow the bandwagon. What can be trending for others may not be of any interest to your audience.
Besides generating your own content, social media marketers should also keep track of trending and popular events. These can sometimes offer good moments to stay connected and be engaged with your audience.
#4. Innovate your engagement strategy
Interacting and engaging with your audience on social media can be either pre-emptive or direct.
Direct engagement happens when you upfront respond to messages, comments, likes etc. on social platforms. The engagement strategy here should cover response frequency and timings of social interactions with your audience depending upon the engagement pattern. This should also consider whether replying to each and every message or comment is necessary or what type of messages should be addressed first. You can create conditional response mechanism to strategize the entire workflow.
On the other hand, pre-emptive engagement is when you make a proactive move for reaching out to your audience. This happens when people on online space may be indirectly talking about your academic brand. Since these could be potential stakeholders therefore it creates an opportunity to engage them. You can create strategies to start conversations with such type of audience based on their interest.
#5. Social media engagement requires dedicated time
While managing social accounts, your social media team should set aside different timings for different activities. For example, the team can divide its work schedule for 3 different set of activities; monitoring performance of social media campaigns through data analytics, creating social posts based on pre-defined themes and handling messages / comments, queries etc.
You may also allocate different time for different social networks depending on your follower base and audience size.
There are many social media management tools that can help you manage social inventory. Through such tools you can easily schedule your social media work for better performance. These tools give you access to a dashboard to manage all social accounts in one place.
Besides, managing social accounts, social media tools also provide useful analytics. They are the best project management tool for getting a general overview of your social media engagement efforts and generate analytical reports to track performance.
#6. Measuring social engagement
What gets measured gets done is the famous management proverb. If you want to track effectiveness of your social media campaigns, you need data points to measure.
That’s why social media analytics is critical to measure the impact of your brand’s performance on social platforms.
While measuring performance, metrics can vary from platform to platform. However, the objective will remain the same and that is to identify weak and strong areas to improve performance.
For example, Facebook Analytics provides a very comprehensive dashboard to track audience engagement through various parameters such as page insights, reach, page views, likes, followers, audience demographics and many more new features.
Likewise, Twitter offers a robust set of tools to measure your metrics which includes monthly summary giving snapshot of your account’s performance over one month period, analytics related to follower counts, tweet impressions, mentions, and demographic details of your audience which covers their interest, gender, location split etc.
Instagram too provides you with all the vital social media engagement stats you’ll need to track performance of your campaigns.
The importance of social media engagement in digital marketing
Your social media engagement is a barometer of building successful relationship with your stakeholders. But how do you do it will be the key to measure its achievements. The effectiveness of your social media engagement will depend upon the targets you wish to achieve by spending the amount of time and other resources on doing it.
The positive impact that your engagement efforts will have on your academic brand will ultimately bring positive change in your brand perception.
So, put your social media engagement strategy into focus and start acting in the right direction.