Beyond the trend: 3 ways to build your social media strategy amid emerging platforms

Choose platforms that resonate with your unique audience and what they need on their journey to enrollment and beyond.
Allison Minutillo
Allison Minutillo
Allison leads a team of marketing professionals as Senior Vice President at Primacy, a full-service digital experience agency based out of Connecticut that specializes in higher education.

“We’re going to ride the wave and see what happens.”

This was an intriguing response from one of Primacy’s higher education clients when discussing the possibility of adopting Meta’s latest social media platform, Threads. It’s a sentiment that captures the challenge many higher education institutions face today: How do we harness the potential of new social platforms while ensuring a well-founded strategy that increases awareness and aids in engagement?

Institutions find themselves at a juncture where they must discern which platforms hold the potential to thrive and add value rather than succumbing to every fleeting trend. From Instagram and Snapchat to Lemon8 and what’s next, the pressure to jump on the bandwagon of social platform adoption can be intense. It gives schools a unique opportunity to enhance communication efforts and connect with current and prospective students.

While larger institutions can readily adapt their social strategies, others strive to strike the right balance between innovation and practicality, grappling with the decision of being early adopters or observers. Uncovered in conversations with top institutions, these three strategic considerations can be used as a guide to navigate trends and determine if your institution is ready to explore a new way to engage.

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1. Know your brand: Consistency across social media is identity

Your institution’s brand should be consistent across every communication channel. Yes, all of them.

TikTok and its casual, low-production nature might not seem like an obvious choice for traditional institutions, but with over 200k followers, top universities like Harvard have found a way to embrace the platform’s style while maintaining their authentic voice.

Social media is more than just creating content; each post is an opportunity to reinforce your unique identity and deepen your relationship with current and prospective students.

2. Know your audience and their journey to maximize engagement

Not all social media platforms are created equal or attract the same demographic.

Effective marketing hinges on understanding your target audience and their journey regardless of platform or trend. What types of content does your ideal student consume? Does it enrich their journey, adding value and providing new information? Or could it introduce unnecessary complexities that might confuse prospective students?

You’re allowed to be selective and targeted. Boston University has been praised for using social media to inform and prepare incoming first-year students for move-in through “day in the life” and major-based content. Choose platforms that resonate with your unique audience and what they need on their journey to enrollment and beyond.

3. Know the opportunities, discard the distractions

As you consider new additions to your engagement strategy, map out how the platform is aligned with your institution’s trajectory.

The availability of resources—both financial and human—is a critical factor and one that can’t be ignored. With over 2 billion logged-in monthly users watching YouTube Shorts, the rising TikTok competitor is an enticing space for institutions to explore.

However, even creating a 60-second-or-less video requires hours of planning, shooting and editing. With so many other objectives at play, decide if adopting a new platform is the best way to spend your time.

Balancing necessity and opportunity: A pragmatic approach to social media

In the landscape of emerging social media platforms, higher education institutions face a fundamental decision: Is the latest trend a “need to have” or a “nice to have”?

Adopting every new platform isn’t a sustainable approach, but neither is ignoring new growth opportunities. By focusing on platforms that align with your institution’s mission, values, and audience, you can invest your energy and resources wisely. The journey from trend awareness to strategic implementation is a voyage that, when guided by a discerning approach, can lead to achieving institutional goals in an evolving digital landscape.


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