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6 Best Practices for Universities Embracing Social Media

Last modified on 2013-08-16 22:25:42 GMT. 7 comments. Top.



Keep up with Dean…


The Digital Marketing Series is supported by HubSpot, an inbound marketing software company based in Cambridge, Mass., that makes a full platform of marketing software, including social media management tools.



For universities, deciding to use social media is a no-brainer. The 18- to 24-year-old college student demographic is all over the social web, and its younger counterpart (the high school crowd) is equally immersed. Alumni, recent and far-removed, use social networks to engage and stay connected with the world. Community members, parents of students, potential donors, faculty and staff and other constituents are just a tweet or “like” away. With so many key populations embracing social media, universities almost have no choice but to integrate these platforms into their marketing and communications plans.

Already, many schools have leveraged social media in a big way. In fact, a recent study showed that an astounding 100% of universities have a social media presence. From luring in potential new students with admissions blogs and creative use of location-based services like SCVNGR, to keeping alumni engaged via dynamic, content-rich Facebook and Ning communities, to informing students about campus offerings throughTwitter feeds and YouTube videos, it’s clear that universities recognize the importance of social media.



While many schools experience great success with social media, others never get their efforts off the ground. Strategies flop and accounts fail to gain the viral following that was hoped for, resulting in dormant pages or less-than-thriving online communities.

Here are six best practices for universities seeking to build effective social media engagement.

1. Develop a Strategy and Set Goals

Before diving head-first into social media, take the time to establish a strategy. What type of content will you deliver? How often will you post content, and where will it come from? What populations will you aim to engage? Consider resources, too, such as budget and staffing. Who will be responsible for posting content and engaging the community?

Define your goals, as well. What do you hope to accomplish with your social media activity? Think about developing over-arching goals (e.g. “build stronger connections with alumni”), along with more specific ones (e.g. “increase Homecoming event registration via social media by 75%”). This way, after a period of time, you will be able to evaluate whether your social media efforts have been effective.

2. Pick and Choose Your Platforms


Just because there are hundreds of social media platforms out there doesn’t mean your school needs a presence on all of them. Go for quality over quantity. What makes sense with your strategy? If you’re planning to grow a close-knit community for a subset of engaged alumni, maybe look at Ning — a platform with the functionality to accomplish these goals. If you’re going to post lots of campus videos, maybe a YouTube orVimeo channel would be worthwhile. Choose a combination of platforms which complement each other and help you accomplish your goals. Be sure not to overlook niche sites, which are lesser known but might offer exactly what you need.

Consider your populations, too. Where do they congregate online? A platform like Tumblr would be ideal for targeting high school students, since Tumblr is heavily used by teenagers. LinkedIn, on the other hand, skews to older demographics, so perhaps it’s a good fit for an alumni networking community.

3. Empower and Support Individual Departments

Within a university, there are many departments and academic units, all with unique messages and distinct audiences. It doesn’t make sense to have just one social media entity to represent the entire university; departments should be able to establish their own accounts. From the residence life office to the parking department to the dining halls, each unit can have its own social media presence (in a way that is coordinated across campus, of course). Take a look at Boston University’s Dining Services Twitter account for an example of a university department that uses social media well.

Not every campus department will have someone on staff with expertise in communications or social media, so it might be helpful to offer training sessions across the university, educating members of campus about how to use social media effectively for their departments. Hands-on, one-on-one consultations for departments can be helpful, as well.

4. Put Guidelines in Place

Along with giving departments the ability to create their own social media accounts, there should be some overarching, university-wide guidelines in place to ensure consistency and appropriateness of all social media activity. These guidelines will look different for each university, but could include things like account naming conventions, crisis response policies, copyright and legal reminders, and descriptions of the core principles driving the university’s social media strategy, such as authenticity and transparency. For a look at some well-established higher ed social media policies, visit .eduguru’s Social Media Policy Resource Guide for Higher Ed.

Since social media is a creative endeavor and a constantly evolving field, it’s probably best to leave the guidelines fairly open-ended. Formal regulations and policies that are too constrictive might hamper a university’s ability to innovate, or deter a staff member who wants to try something outside-the-box.

5. Develop a Consistent Voice Across Platforms



A university’s social media presence is an extension of the school’s brand. What is your brand all about? Is it playful and joking or conservative and buttoned-up? It’s important that a consistent voice is implemented across all of the school’s major social media platforms — a school with an ultra-serious Facebook page and an offbeat and sarcastic Twitter account will just look like it’s having an identity crisis.

Keep in mind that each platform has nuances, so the voice will never be exactly the same across all major university accounts. Content needs to be re-worked to fit with the feel of each platform.

6. Communicate Across Campus

With so many departments engaging in social media, it becomes extremely important for open lines of communication to exist across campus. Opportunities for collaboration are plentiful, but these collaborations can’t occur if departments operate in silos. By communicating openly, individuals can share best practices and learn from other people on their own campus.

While most of us already have way too many meetings in our calendars, it might make sense to add one more: a regularly-convened cross-campus social media meeting. An alternative is to keep an e-mail listserv, Facebook group, or some type of discussion forum to foster ongoing communication among all the people involved with social media at the university.

It’s no secret that universities are perking up to the power of social media and devoting more resources to this area. As universities expand their social media endeavors, strategy, training and cross-campus collaboration will be critical.


Series supported by HubSpot


The Digital Marketing Series is supported by HubSpot, an inbound marketing software company based in Cambridge, Mass., that makes a full platform of marketing software, including social media managementtools.

When You Pass Your Mentor ~ Dean Kosage

Last modified on 2013-08-16 23:35:33 GMT. 7 comments. Top.

It should be a goal of any real mentor to have their student surpasses them one day. However I am saddened by how few mentors have created a path way for this to happen. In fact the mentor’s ego can often times blind them, and thus even miss the fact that their student has caught them. A tearing apart of the mentor and student typically occurs when a rite of passage is not in place to allow this transfer to take place.

Keep up with Dean Kosage…

Music can make you look cool :)

Last modified on 2013-08-16 23:41:26 GMT. 7 comments. Top.

Have you ever watched a band play music and then realized how drawn to or inspired you are by one the band members ?What is odd that so many times the best musicians don’t look like a person you would normally hang out with :)

Often I would never guess that type of talent or soul was hidden in that musician  , and it makes me wonder how many of us have those untapped gifts inside us .

I believe a person who can play a instrument is instantly more attractive and captivating . I hope more children will be given the chance to discover that part of themselves . Once the the high or energy from playing a musical instrument has bitten you , your appreciation , and compassion for so many things escalates .

Sometimes you just see weird stuff !

Last modified on 2013-08-16 23:54:15 GMT. 7 comments. Top.

Today was one of those days , where you just notice something  is off around you .

As if a ripple in the universe occurred and you noticed it before someone could put it back .

If you are able to slow down , or to get off the normal routine people fall prey to these moments pop up more frequent .

I guess I like the new phrase the last few yrs. to describe these moments  …. ” REALLY ?

Last modified on GMT. 7 comments. Top.

Can you tell the difference ?

Last modified on 2013-08-17 00:31:21 GMT. 7 comments. Top.

It can be a thin line somedays between being a genius when your are up late or just a stupid night if these are the friends you end up bringing  home :)



Some tend to over react!!

Last modified on 2013-09-06 22:05:03 GMT. 7 comments. Top.


Ever notice how employees can drive you up a wall ,  following procedures past the point of common sense ! I mean RED TAPE everywhere … you start to wonder if there are any people left who didn’t sell out as a child to the system .  Some folks just take their  jobs way too serious :)

California has me in its grips

Last modified on 2013-08-17 01:00:32 GMT. 7 comments. Top.

So I sit down to write a blog and unwind for the night , and it hits me . I started the day at the gym , then I went surfing . I changed in the parking lot out of the back of my porsche which has yoga mats and a gym bag in the back   . Oh and yes it was a scene from the movie ” Point break ” with me using a towel to do the quick change routine .

Then tonight for dinner  I had a salad , some perfect water , and took some vitamins . Now as a late night snack I just poured my self a glass of almond milk to go with my gluten free cookie !

LISTEN PEOPLE …. if i don’t live to be at least a 100 I am going to become a ghost and haunt every organic farmer , self help guru , and trainer I can find ! You don’t even want to know what I will do to the yoga instructors if I end up like this guy :)

Last modified on GMT. 7 comments. Top.

less then 6% of people leave their home town !

Last modified on 2013-08-17 01:03:02 GMT. 7 comments. Top.

OMG people , can this be true ? If it is then no wonder we have some many uninformed people walking around who vote weird and make so many delusional comments about life . When we doubt ourselves or wonder sometimes if we the have courage or the get up and go , we need to stop !  Think of all the insight and ” fits of clarity ”  you would be missing if you never left your village . How about the captivating people you will meet , let alone  and all the wonderful taste’s you will encounter  .

I guess it is true ……we all do live in the world we create or self imprison ourselves to .

However if you ever do dare to leave your small village , and wander into the world with your group of misfit friends , what a story you will have to tell !

Keep up with Dean…


  1. Hermann Lazar says:

    Looking forward to listening to you on your nest visit to the “Land Down Under” :-)

  2. Lola says:

    This is really really awesome!~

  3. Dean Kosage says:

    Hey great to hear from you :) I am speaking up in canada in november so lets connect .. plus send me a link that leads to your song ” fits of clarity ” .
    I will drive people to it for you !! as well as a pic or something . I will promote you guys since you are great people as well as VERY talented . Besides the first time I heard that phrase was from your band … so you get all the credit !

  4. Dean Kosage says:

    Thank you for the comment , stay tuned this is going to be a great sight to get one liners and insight to help move people over hurdles.

  5. Chris says:

    me like! this is a great presence…

  6. Brian Thompson says:

    Great new blog Dean! Fits Of Clarity eh? Hmm, now where have I heard that phrase before? heh heh…

    ; )

    Let’s reconnect when you’re back in Van sometime!

    All the best,

  7. Micah Dew says:

    Love reading about the stories and your insights. Keep them coming, thanks Dean! Also it was great to be there in Portland and hear you speak.

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