Social media is an underutilized medium that should be an integrated part of your overall higher-ed communication strategy.

4 things higher-ed job candidates should see on your social media


Social media is an underutilized medium that should be an integrated part of your overall communication strategy

Key points:

Employees want to do work that matters. Today’s candidates are reporting higher emphasis on fulfilling, purpose-driven roles. One of the first places a job seeker will turn to understand the ethos of your organization is your social media channels. When they pull up your institution’s LinkedIn and Instagram, will they see outdated posts in a neglected feed? Will they be confused by discontented and disorganized posts? Or will they encounter a unified narrative that draws them in?

Know your audience

In order to effectively communicate, you need to have a clear picture of your target audience. A complexity for colleges and universities is that they have more than one group of stakeholders they need to reach with their social media channels. Job seekers are a key member of your audience, but your audience includes current students, parents, potential students, employees, alumni, and donors. Community connections and other colleges are secondary and tertiary audiences.

With a thoughtful social media strategy, you can present a comprehensive picture of your institution that will engage all members of your audience through a variety of posts with a cohesive voice and narrative. Your efforts on social media will not only attract more high-quality candidates, but also will reinvigorate your employees, inspire your alumni, and engage your donors.

Know your medium

Reaching a diverse audience of stakeholders can tempt you to be verbose in your posts. Resist the urge. One of the most fundamental errors organizations make on social media is being too wordy. This is a particular risk for higher education where we are used to extended term papers and dense dissertations.

Social media is designed to be accessible and digestible. Parcel your content out into bite-sized posts. Each item in your feed should present a snapshot of who you are as an institution and what happens on your campus. People scan social media. When you have a focused, succinct message, you choose what they hear. Pair your concise content with professional photos for a high-caliber presentation of your college. Poor-quality photos or impersonal stock photography degrades your social media presence.

Curate your content

How can you create a strong picture of your organization’s culture, mission, and impact to attract like-minded applicants, while also animating your other stakeholders? Here are four aspects of your institutional DNA to feature regularly and resonate throughout your entire audience:

  1. Student success stories. Featuring individual portraits of current students and recent alumni makes your mission tangible. It rescues higher education from being abstract and ethereal by showing how you are making a difference in the daily life of one person. Vary the format of posts, including instantaneous portraits with a quote and link to interviews that capture compelling testimonials.
  2. Employee appreciation. How do you honor and empower your employees? Your social channels should highlight community-building events, staff accomplishments, and advancement opportunities. Capture your positive and proactive culture through simple, celebratory posts. Enable your employees to tell their own stories, articulating their passion for their work and also honoring their colleagues. Showcase positions at all levels of your organization, from custodial staff to board of directors.
  3. Community connections. Your institution is part of a broader network of organizations in your region. The people and groups you choose to partner with demonstrate your values. When you showcase initiatives and partnerships, applicants can envision how they will be part of a rich network that is making a difference in your community. Tagging other institutions also broadens the reach of your posts and enables traction in online algorithms.
  4. Legacy and vision. Colleges and universities have a rich heritage of learning across generations. Use your social media channels to connect your work in the present with the people and accomplishments throughout your institution’s history. Show the through-line of your mission across differing societal contexts. Plumb the depths of your archives for photos and quotes that bring your history to life.

Leaders in higher education have the privilege and responsibility of casting vision for their institution. Social media is an underutilized medium that should be an integrated part of your overall communication strategy. This will energize your current campus community while also attracting high-quality candidates to ensure the future of your organization.

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