higher education, social media management

What Do Each of Your Audiences Want?

By Katie Turpen

A Breakdown For Higher Education Digital Marketers

While they are an essential audience, higher education marketing isn’t just about reaching students. When developing your social media strategy, you need to keep in mind all the people who are digesting your content and potentially finding it useful. This practice takes extra time and planning on the front end, but by focusing on what each each audience wants, you’re creating the best content to reach your goals.

So, who exactly are all your audiences in higher education and how do you craft messages tailored toward their needs? Based on my own experience as a higher education social media manager, I’ve broken it down below.

Prospective Students (high school students & transfer students )

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Generation Z wants quick and authentic messaging they can easily digest on their smart phones. They want it to be fun and useful and ideally it should capture their attention in three seconds or less. Some content to consider for recruitment: YouTube vlogs and Snapchat takeovers where current students show a day in their lives at their college or university. Consider featuring fun TikTok videos from current students on your university’s Snapchat and Instagram account. Keep a running list of your active student “influencers” on social media and consistently curate and share their content. The key is to be transparent and relatable in an easy, short video format.

Platforms to use: SnapChat, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok

Prospective Students Parents/Families

Parents want their most pressing questions answered on everything from financial aid to housing to meal plans. They want to know their kids are going to be safe, taken care of, and set up for success throughout their four years at college. They need to know where every dollar is going and what each fee means. If their child is struggling in class, they will reach out to you on social media to find out why.

To keep parents informed, consider doing Facebook Live Q&A’s specifically for parents/families of students with members of the admissions team on all these topics. Let parents submit questions before and during the live event. Be sure to make sure these are moderated. On a monthly basis, craft Facebook messaging targeted specifically at parents that sends them directly to portals where they can access needed information. Be sure you are regularly responding to their messages and comments on your social.

Platform to use: Facebook

Current Students

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What they want: The most popular social media platform by far for current college students is Instagram, specifically Instagram Stories. Students are an absolute pro at using this app and love revealing bits of their daily lives through aesthetically pleasing filters, interactive quizzes, and videos decorated with colorful text. Consistently use the question sticker on Instagram Stories to ask students what content they would like to see from their college. Regularly do student and staff takeovers so you are always showcasing campus through a diverse lens. Post beautiful campus landscape photos to encourage campus pride and regularly run swag giveaways to keep your audience engaged.

Platforms to use: Instagram Stories, Snapchat


Faculty want to showcase their work and the work of their students. They want to be informed and consistently updated on what’s happening at their school. The same goes for staff. They need to know what’s going on at all times and they also enjoy outlets to show off their pride like Instagram contests or special college days. Encourage your departments across campus to post “behind the scenes” photos on their social media. This is a great way to be authentic and transparent while making your employees validated and seen. Be sure to include a few Instagram Stories takeovers from faculty and staff on your main accounts throughout the year.

Platforms to use: Facebook, Instagram


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Once alumni head out into the world, you want to keep them engaged and connected to their alma mater. They are the ones who can speak to their positive experiences at your college and also become your future donors. Definitely make alumni spotlights a regular part of your social media strategy. There are bound to be many with a unique story doing exciting things and this type of content is awesome for recruitment. I’ve found LinkedIn is a great place to share campus pride articles as it creates pleasant nostalgia for alumni and makes them feel connected. Many of them will comment on articles with the year they graduated and share why they love their university.

Platforms to use: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn

The key to an effective social media strategy is to take the time to segment your audiences and carefully think about what content works for each. You may not reach each audience on a weekly basis but you should definitely strive to reach all on a monthly basis. Analyze what content does the best and use that to inform what you do next.

Have any more tips? I’d love to hear. Thanks for reading!


social media management

Instantly Up Your Brand’s Social Media Game

By Katie Turpen

3 Ways to Instantly Up Your Brand’s Social Media Game

Are you struggling to be seen and heard online? Maybe you’ve created a few Facebook posts, launched an ad campaign, sent some tweets, etc. but haven’t seen the results you’ve hoped for. Using social media effectively is crucial for a business to reach their customers where they are. Mastering it can feel like chasing an elusive animal with constant updates and quickly dissolving trends. As a seasoned social media manager, I’ve learned a few things about being successful in the digital arena. Here are three things you can do NOW to give your online presence the boost it needs.

  1. Create a content marketing strategy

‚ÄúContent is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting,” Bill Gates stated in a 1996 essay titled “Content is King.” The man was right and in 2020, this is truer than ever before. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are, you need to be producing content on a consistent base. Content hooks people and reels them in. It creates a sturdy foundation for your brand to stand on. Don’t believe me? Take it from some of the marketing mega minds like Gary Vaynerchuk or Seth Godin.

I know it can seem daunting to dive in and instantly produce something amazing. Don’t be overwhelmed at the thought of having to churn out an insane amount of content! You can start slow and you can start now. Here are a few of my suggestions!

  • Write a short blog post about who you are and how you got started. Include a photo of yourself, or even better, a video. Don’t have a blog? Now is the time to start one.
  • Collect customer testimonials and share them in a Facebook or Instagram post.
  • Be a guest on a podcast. Or if you are feeling extra ambitious, start your own podcast!
  • Consider starting a monthly email newsletter and sharing bits of it on your social media channels throughout the month. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, you can build on it overtime!

2. Utilize Instagram Stories to creatively reach your audience

If you aren’t using Instagram, it’s time to get ON IT. 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day, according to Hootsuite. When it comes to this app, think quality over quantity. You don’t have to post a lot, but when you do post it needs to look good. And use Instagram Stories! These short 24-hour pieces of content are incredibly popular right now and will continue to be for awhile. They are such an easy, fast way to set your brand apart from others. Use the questions sticker to find out what your audiences wants more of, use fun GIFs to give people a laugh, give behind the scenes tours of your business, etc. The possibilities are endless here. Check out this guide to get started.

3. Download a new tool or app to elevate your social media style

If you can’t invest in a social media manager, then at least learn a few tools. You don’t have to be a social media or graphic design expert to excel digitally and make your contently look sparkly clean. Below are a few tools I’ve found helpful:

Canva will make you instantly feel like a graphic designer. There are endless templates to choose from and you can easily pop in your fonts, colors, and texts. Then BOOM, it’s ready to download and share across your socials. I LOVE this tool.

Adobe Spark – Why post a boring photo album on Facebook when you can create a engaging slideshow with animation and text? Adobe Spark helps you elevate your message and tell a story rather than just showing and telling.

Repost app for Instagram – Share other photos you find on Instagram (with proper credit, of course) easily and without the watermark (if you choose the paid version). Sharing other’s content is a great way to build relationships while enhancing the look of your own feed.

Anything you’d add to the list? I’d love to hear. Thanks for reading!


higher education, social media management

Avoiding Social Media Burnout

5 Tips for Avoiding Burnout as a Social Media Manager

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Burnout is all too real in the social media management world. From feeling “always on,” to trying not to take negative comments personally, to being thrust into crisis communications at a moment’s notice, we’re juggling a lot of responsibilities at once. To make it worse, it’s hard for people outside of the social bubble to understand that our lives are more than just fun Tweets and Snapchats. The weight of all it can take a toll and we may not realize what is happening until it’s too late. Over the past few years as a social media professional, I’ve learned some tricks to keep my mental health from sliding into unhealthy territory. Read on.

1. Schedule blocks of non-screen time! This is CRUCIAL. For so long, I was busy managing social media professionally all day long and then would come home only to scroll on my personal feeds for hours. Not only were my eyeballs sore but my brain was overloaded. I’ve learned when I come home I need at least two hours where my phone is in the other room. During this time, I try to take walks, do yoga, cook dinner or spend quality time with my fiance or friends. I always feel refueled and refreshed the next day and ready to jump back into the digital webs.

*Bonus Tip: Try to move around EVERY hour throughout the day. Even if it’s just walking to the break room or doing a few stretches. Nothing is worse than realizing you’ve been glued to your computer for three hours without moving and suddenly your body feels like a sack of potatoes.

2. Let yourself actually enjoy vacations. Repeat after me. You are allowed to take guilt-free vacations and not feel pressured to check those notifications. It used to be so hard for me to enjoy my time off without panicking there was a crisis brewing in the comments section. Before your vacation, talk to your boss and teammates about a plan for your absence. I know this is hard since a lot of us are one-person shows but try to see if someone else in the office can check the comments/messages while you are away. At the very least, make it clear you’ll only be looking at your phone once a day while you are away. Go ahead and put that out of office response up and let people know to only contact you if it’s urgent.

3. Curate your personal social media feeds carefully. Social media can be a lot of soul-sucking noise and it will benefit you to be strategic with what you are looking at during downtime. Trim the fat by curating only the accounts that you really enjoy following or find helpful. Yes, the meme accounts are hilarious but maybe follow just a couple and not 100. You’ll feel like a better human, trust me!

4. Find an online community of other social media managers. This has been the biggest lifesaver for me. I recently found #HigherEdSocial, an online group for those of us specifically managing social media in higher education. It’s been an incredible resource for content ideas and a place to vent about similar struggles. I also follow the #HESM tag on Twitter to see what others in my field are up to. Find your little niche on the internet where you can share advice with each other and offer support.

5. Have open and honest conversations with your managers about your mental health. If you feel yourself becoming irritable or more stressed than normal communicate with your manager. Talk to him or her about specific projects you need help with. In our jobs, people don’t realize how much we are actually juggling so communicate your needs and delegate any tasks you can. Everyone wins here.

What do you think of the tips above? Anything you would add to the list? Articles you’ve found helpful? I love this one on social media and mental health. Comment with your thoughts below!

Thanks for reading,