Keeping up with ‘the kids’ is exhausting.
It seems like every year there’s a new trend or social media platform that affects the way we reach students online. Luckily for us, we’ve got a secret weapon in the never-ending fight to stay hip: Nearly 45 student ambassadors who represent us across social media (including Chinese social media channels). Especially considering our university’s small size, it’s a huge team. Here’s what we’ve learned from them this year:
FOMO Rules All
The pressure to make the most of the “the best four years of their lives” has always been a thing for college students past and present. Because social media never sleeps, however, ‘fear of missing out (FOMO)’ is at an all time high in 2016. From the moment they wake up in the morning, students are constantly plugged in to the people, places and things that are important to them on social media.
The takeaway for social media managers: Experiment with posting easily digestible content at different times of the day, possibly during high traffic periods when students are likely to be on the bus or taking a break between classes. For content that requires more of a captive audience (e.g. videos, long-form articles), try posting after 8 p.m. when students are more likely to be on their desktops instead of their mobile devices.
Facebook’s Not Dead, But Twitter Might Be
They may not admit it, but Facebook is still an important part of their lives. Sure, it may be the family dinner party they can never leave but, as one student told us, “Facebook serves as the baseline for all the other social media platforms.” While Snapchat and Instagram are spaces where they get the stuff they want, but Facebook is a space where they get the stuff they need: Event information, trending conversations on campus, contact info for students they don’t know directly, … In short, it’s their Yellow Pages.
Twitter, on the other hand, is (directly quoting from a student here) “just lame.” Graduate students find value in it for professional development purposes but, for undergrads, it doesn’t serve a purpose that isn’t already fulfilled on their other channels.
The takeaway for social media managers: Thanks to the almighty Facebook algorithm, organic reach for brand pages is declining. If you want to reach students on Facebook, instead of working to attract more followers to your brand page, try posting your content in event pages, private groups and public, campus-wide groups. Try having a student ambassador or intern post on your behalf, so that it comes from a student voice.
The Days of Fliers IRL (In Real Life) Are Over
If you haven’t before, check out the events tab of your Facebook profile. There, in one place, is everything you need to know about the things happening in your area, events you may be interested in and events your friends are attending (because nobody wants to go alone). For this reason, students say Facebook is the best place to promote an event. Paper fliers, on the other hand, aren’t nearly as effective.
The takeaway for social media managers: Having an event page on Facebook, and making sure it includes as much relevant information as possible, is essential if you want to promote an event. After you’ve created it, have students share with their networks and invite their friends.
On Snapchat, Continuity Is A Major 🔑🔑🔑
For students, one of the appeals of Snapchat is that users don’t have to be fed content they don’t want to see. Whereas other social media platforms require users to scroll through a newsfeed, users on Snapchat consciously choose which story they want to see. For that reason, students say they want to know what to expect when they tap on your Snapchat story, so continuity is key to retaining viewership.
The takeaway for social media managers: If you manage a Snapchat account, try to be consistent with your content. Compose a distinct beginning, middle and end to your story so that viewers can easily follow along.