How Colleges can use Social Media

How Colleges can use Social Media

While there can be a big focus on how social media can be a useful to SMEs and other businesses another area that can also benefit enormously is colleges. Using three case studies the various ways that third level institutes can use these tools will be shown. As well as this two other channels that universities can use will be highlighted that can be a benefit to not only students but also lecturers. The team here at BlueChief Social knocked our heads together and came up with three great tips to help colleges make the most of their social channels.

These three colleges are:

  • University of Plymouth
  • University College Cork
  • Harvard University

These three were selected as previous studies have shown them to be amongst the top colleges when it comes to using social media. They also give a national and international perspective.


University of Plymouth, using Pinterest to answer students questions

While not the most well known university Plymouth has an extensive social profile. One thing that stood out straight away was how well they use pictures. Their Pinterest page below has a fantastic variety of boards that not only help potential students but also show the day to day life in the University. It can be viewed as a one stop shop if anyone has questions.

Colleges Pinterst Board

Even their Facebook cover photo shows the benefit of using images to help create a good first impression. Across all platforms Plymouth provides useful information for:

  • Potential Students
  • Current students
  • Alumni

Their content also helps to create an image of the University as being integral in the community as they share and interact with profiles and events happening in the Plymouth Area. They also have a great image in terms of good causes and CSR.

Through their Instagram profile and YouTube channel they share videos where the students talk about their own experience on campus. This can be a great tool to help promote the college to potential students.  These videos in turn are used across their other social channels as well.
Overall the key things colleges can be take from Plymouth are:
  • Use Pinterest to help answer all questions in a visual way
  • Instagram can be a great way to show behind the scenes of life on a university campus.
  • Use these social channels to develop a strong CSR image and make the college an integral part of the community.


University College Cork, harness the power of videos across all channels

UCC has an extensive social media presence. The channels they use are the main channels used in Ireland Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Their Facebook page is a great mix of campus pictures and research undertaken by professors (a lot of these have links to national newspapers which helps create a good image and is also good for SEO). They are also not shy at having fun on their Facebook page.  As with Plymouth they create an online image of being an integral part of the community by supporting local causes and interacting with the local community online as well.

Their Twitter page is a great example of this as they interact with people who mention them. Their Twitter feed is a constant stream of Tweets about what’s going on around the campus such as their recent colour run. In short one quick look can tell you what’s happening on any given day. There is also a multi cultural element as they celebrate events such as the Chinese New Year. This was also shone through with Plymouth as well.

Their YouTube has a great mix of videos that range from research being undertaken to events on around the campus. The most interesting mix though is the interviews with undergrads and postgrads. These come across as very professional and are a great way to promote the college to potential students. The channel has a great mix of content and really helps to let people see into life in and around the university.

UCC on YouTube

LinkedIn is an important network not so much to promote the college itself but to connect students and alumni and help them with employment.

The key things colleges can take from University College Cork are:

        • Don’t take your social profiles too seriously
        • Have a mix of videos, from solely promotional to behind the scenes and interviews
        • Use LinkedIn as a tool to connect students with potential employers


Harvard University, have a uniform identity across all channels

Harvard is amongst the top universities in the World and as you would expect their social media profile is very extensive. Their top three social profiles would be Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Throughout all their social profiles Harvard create an image of history and heritage.  At the same time they are also very much in the present. This is shown through the awards they give and also the guests who visit the campus. They’re not afraid to be embrace celebrity culture.

A great tactic they use particularly on their Facebook page is to teach the students. Whether it’s through research being done on campus or the importance of conversation for children. They are also not shy about showing what life on campus is like. As with the other colleges they help create a strong CSR image through the campaigns they’re involved in. A good example of this is their sustainability project that is being done in conjunction with students in Sao Paulo.

Harvard Universities Facebook Post

Their Instagram profile does a great job of blending its content. From a single look at their profile you can see the great mix of videos and pictures that link to Harvards past as well as events happening on the campus. #Harvard is also used in the majority of their posts. A strong and consistent hashtag can often be something that colleges can overlook. However this can make is so much easier for people not only on Instagram but also on Twitter to find out things about the college.

harvard on instagram

Their YouTube channel does a great job of promoting what the university has to offer. For example they have videos of talks that take place in the University as well as videos dealing with current affairs. Their YouTube channel does a good job of developing Harvards image as a place very much interested in current topics and issues that affect everyone.

When it comes to what colleges can learn from Harvard:

  • Have a strong and uniform identity across all your social channels
  • Use one particular hashtag across your social channels
  • Don’t be afraid to embrace the past as well as the present when it comes to posting up content. If your college has a heritage and tradition then use this


Other tools that Colleges can use.

While all these social channels are well known there are some other tools that universities can use to help not only in promotion but also in day to day life on campus.

  • Slideshare – This site allows you to upload presentations and slides online. One area that this can be used by both students and lecturers is if they’re sending something via email. Instead of worrying if the slides will take up too much memory when attached to the email simply upload it on Slideshare and put the link in the URL. The social share buttons on slideshare also make it easier than ever to share content. LinkedIn even has a button that brings you directly to the slideshare website. This is definitely a tool that colleges can use.
  • Blog/News section – This can be a great place not only to let people know what’s happening in the college but also from an SEO standpoint. Google rewards sites that constantly send out new content and a simple blog posts on the goings on around a university can be a great way keep your website fresh and up to date. By linking it to an RSS feed you can make it easy for people to subscribe to any news stories or posts you create on the colleges website.

rss feed

BlueChiefs top three tips 

As you can see there are a lot of ways that colleges can harness social media to help promote the college but also interact with students and lecturers. If there was three tips that we here at BlueChief Social would give colleges it would be:

  1. Start using videos throughout your social media channels whether this is setting up a YouTube channel or using Instagram videos across various platforms
  2. Have a specific hashtag that will be synonymous with the college – Something similar to what Harvard do can be a great way to not only make your posts more interactive but at the click of a button you can find out what people are talking about.
  3. Have a strong and uniform image across all social channels so that people can instantly recognise the college when they come across it online.

These are three things that universities can begin to do immediately so that social media can become a powerful tool to not only promote the university but also connect past, present and potential students with all the answers they need. If you have any questions please leave a comment. If you want to find out more about the services that BlueChief Social can provide then please check out our services page.

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