Where we’re at
The University was a bit of a late adopter when it comes to social media, but we have built our Facebook and Twitter presences over the last two years and now receive fairly good levels of interaction. As with most others around the University, social media is only a part of my role, when really it could be a full time job (more on that later)!
There are lots of departments and areas of the University using social media, some better than others! See this list for the Twitter accounts. And on Facebook, look through the other pages that we ‘like’. There are also lots of academics using Twitter effectively – if you know of any great examples, please leave a comment below.
Training is key
Lots of staff who run University related Twitter accounts have come along to the CSTD training run by myself and Alison Fabian – over 300 in fact. Some of these people will have gone away and decided that Twitter isn’t for them; maybe their target audience isn’t actually on Twitter, or they have realised they don’t have enough resource to run an account effectively. We’re fine with this, as we would rather Schools/Departments fully commit to social media for the right reasons, and with the right communications plans in place in order to make sure it ties in with their other comms channels.
Should social media cost money?
It doesn’t have to, no. But I recently experimented with Facebook advertising leading up to the Open Days in June. This generated about 400 new relevant audience members to our page – we targeted 18-24 year olds within a 50 mile radius of Reading, as this is within the University’s usual catchment area for Home students.
It’s very hard to say whether it encouraged any Open Day attendees, but it was certainly worth doing, if only to discover what’s possible with a set (small) budget and exactly how to do it. Facebook have reasonable (if a little confusing) guidance in their help section, but I mostly learnt as I went along as it’s fairly self explanatory.
Biological Sciences and Psychology have had great success using Facebook ads. They have focused on international students and achieved good levels of engagement. A great example from Biological Sciences (courtesy of Mark Fellowes) – a poll on their Facebook page helped inform the content for a new degree programme…a topic suggestion submitted to the poll by a user ended up receiving more votes than any of the original ideas posted by the School. Perhaps this a new way to expand future market research?
Looking to the future…
With the upcoming changes in Marketing and Communications, it is likely that the University’s social media presence will become more student recruitment focused. As such, we hope to be able to devote more time to this, ideally with a full time social media post. This will enable us to increase our audience and engagement levels and offer more support for others around the University.
Until then, we have more Twitter courses coming up in the autumn term, and a big Clearing campaign to run!