2020 taught us a whole host of what students need and want to see, and it’s more than just self-serving advertising.
- Be empathetic
If 2020 taught us anything, it was to be kind. This means communicating with your students through a variety of platforms, and offering them the support they need. Live chat proved particularly popular last year for giving students 24/7 support, particularly for international students, as well as communicating the support services available to students through open day talks with student ambassadors.
Take what we learnt from these great campaigns supporting student wellbeing in 2020 and expand on them. Use the platforms that your students engage with most, like TikTok and Instagram, and ask your student ambassadors to create some user-generated content that will really give your institution a student voice and a human feel, as opposed to a distant entity that’s merely there for academic purposes.
2. Show you care about the big things
As an institution, you might be concerned about filling quotas but student recruitment, and more importantly, retention, is not sustainable if it’s merely a tick-box exercise with no human connection. Students, whether already studying at your institution, or just thinking about it, are looking for a university that cares about the wider picture. They want to know that you don’t stop nurturing and supporting your students and their individuality once they’re through the door. Talk openly, and inclusively, about STEM, LGBT+ and diversity, and make sure an open and honest conversation can be had between staff and students. Listen to their opinions and make changes to better support your students and ultimately enhance their experience at your institution.
For examples of great campaigns supporting diversity, check out this blog.
3. Strike a balance between being relatable but not cringey
Our friends over at Net Natives conducted an interview with leading StudyTuber Ruby Granger, who studies at the University of Exeter. As both a content creator and student, Ruby has a handle on both sides of student communications. Ruby says the cringiest thing universities can do online is trying to be ‘too informal without connecting a face to it’. She also says that there needs to be some continuity between posts, otherwise informal posts sit ‘quite jarringly’ in contrast to more formal, university voices. This is why we love user-generated content for universities, as who knows students better than students themselves? Students want to connect with people their age who are experiencing similar issues or triumphs, rather than institutional voices with no human qualities.
4. Be reactive on social media
Show your students you’re quick to react to current affairs and events that matter to them. Do your research into what students want to see with polls and talks, and then make sure you’re showcasing your institution’s responses online. Get influential guest speakers to address your student body’s concerns and show an affinity with their likes and dislikes. In 2020, we saw a lot of institutions take to social media for sustainability. The winning campaigns saw universities not only reporting on the topic, but also highlighting the steps they were taking to make a difference. Engage with your student audience on these posts, and keep them updated so they can see what you’re doing to support their causes and interests.
Sign up to the newsletter to keep updated with the latest into students’ thoughts and feelings, with key research and insights to help inform your social media calendar for the coming months. Knowing what your students want to see is the key to success when it comes to social comms, so make sure you’re in the loop.