10 ways to experiment on your social media channels today

By Posted in - Experiment & Higher Education & Social Media on August 10th, 2015 0 Comments

This month on the Pickle Jar blog we’re looking at experimenting with your marketing and communications. Not all experiments need to be big, new initiatives – you can experiment with new tools and techniques every day and see how they work for you and your audience.

Here we give you a few simple ideas that you can experiment with today:

1 Try a Twitter card

Have you created a Twitter card yet? Twitter introduced cards back in 2012 but there doesn’t seem to have been huge uptake in the technology (at least amongst our education clients). We know visual content is increasingly important on Twitter, and cards allow you to present content previews, images, galleries, video-play functionality and calls to action for key links to your website. All you have to do is add a few lines of code to the relevant page on your website, and then when people post that link on Twitter, the card will appear. Here’s an example from Liverpool John Moores University:

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 12.57.27

So for your next open event, why not create a card and pin it to the top of your feed with a “Book Now” link.

2 Get your hands on a drone

In a recent blog post, Eric Stoller talked about using drone footage to showcase the university campus from above, with some great examples including this one from Oxford:

Gone are the days of paying aerial photography companies lots of money for static images from the air – now you can create moving images (and static ones!) yourself.

3 Try out Super

Pickle Jar founder, Tracy Playle, has been talking a lot about Super lately – the latest app from Twitter co-found Biz Stone. It allows you to create colourful graphics using your own images, and a series of “starters” such as “My Favourite” and “Did you know” where users can then finish the sentences however they choose. Take a look and see whether there might be any value in it for your institution.

4 Send a Snap

There’s no better way to see how a tool works than to sign up and try it out yourself. Snapchat has been around for a while now and there are a few universities using it to support their student communications but still lots of people don’t seem to “get” it. If you’re not sure about it, why not try immersing yourself in it for a day like these guys did. Then you’ll be able to see what the potential benefits might be for using it to reach your audiences.

5 Get behind the scenes with live-streaming

Have you tried Meerkat or Periscope yet? Why not give your fans and followers a behind-the-scenes sneak peek from one of your events? With A-Level results day coming up, it’s a great way to show the work that staff and student ambassadors do manning the phones (and it also makes it a lot more personal!).

6 Try short-form video with Vine or Instagram

Like live-streaming, short-form video has the advantage of giving people a different view of your activity, and allows you to show your campus in more life or just get a bit creative and fun.

Check out the following university accounts to get some ideas:

7 Get creative with photo apps

We know that using images on Twitter will increase engagement with your content[1], so why not get creative with your images and help your content stand out in the feed. Try using tools like Diptic, Layout or Flipagram to create collages and montages for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Or for desktop images, try Pablo by Buffer to add a quote or text to your image, or Canva to create something original. Or why not use a gif like Goldsmiths have here?

8 Create a Facebook event

So it seems like we’re going back to 2010 with this “experiment” (and in my experience, creating “events” on Facebook has never seemed to have the desired effect) however, Facebook seem to have made a few tweaks to the way events appear in the news feed, and I think they might be worth trying again. The Open University have been using them to promote online chats for their international community with success:

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 12.39.44

9 Host a takeover

This is something we’ve blogged about in the past, but why not let your students use your channels to showcase their university experience? Student takeovers on Instagram are pretty popular and they’re a great way to bring more personality and reality to your feed. You can brief the students in advance and select students who you are already following or who are already acting as advocates on behalf of your institution.

Experimenting with takeovers will also give you some great insights into what exactly your audiences spend their days doing at university.


Want to know more….

10 Share great content from other brands (even competitors!)

It can sometimes be difficult admitting that other brands and organisations are producing content that is more useful and relevant to your audiences than you are, but don’t let pride (or insecurities) stop you sharing content that your audiences will love. By sharing useful content from other sources, you are saving yourself time creating content that already exists, and you’re also showing that you’re relevant and confident with your own position.

If you see something from another institution or organisation that would be helpful or entertaining for your students, try sharing it and see what the response is. Curating content like this might give you a new perspective on your content strategy.

[1] http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/twitter-tactics-to-increase-engagement/

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