The original title of this blog was, "Cheat Sheet: LinkedIn for Higher Ed Brands," but as I researched, I found that they have already done the courtesy. After finding this, I was debating whether or not I should trash the blog for a different topic. In the end, I found myself deciding that this tool is incredibly powerful and deserves more attention. So in place of a cheat sheet, I've decided to focus my attention on breaking down LinkedIn for higher ed brands, in particular, YOUniversity for higher ed.
YOUniversity by LinkedIn
LinkedIn has it's very own tool for higher ed, and it's called YOUniversity. From LinkedIn's own description, YOUniversity allows your higher ed brand to, "engage with millions of prospective and current students, alumni, and parents. Build brand and community where all your key audiences are. Easily see and reach everyone connected to your institution, with targeted communication tools. Get deeper insights on what your alumni are up to, with unique data and tools to see career paths and help students picture what’s possible."
Keeping that in mind, let's break down the toolbar on the YOUniversity homepage. As you can see below, there are icons and links to University Rankings, University Finder, Field of Study Explorer and Create a Decision Board. This being LinkedIn, it's all centered around career-minded students and factoring in where alumni went on to work after graduating.
The University Finder and Field of Study Explorer are pretty straightforward. They allow prospective students to add filters in order to find universities that match their preferences. The University Rankings are where the meat of this tool really is. The rankings are based on alumni profiles and which schools have the most successful alumni. Take a look below for LinkedIn's explanation for when I clicked on the marketing list.
Lastly is the decision board. This helps prospective students to organize and rank their personal list of schools after scouring through the rankings and the University Finder. If you're anything like me, you're probably wondering "where the heck were all these tools when I was graduating high school?"
How Can Your University Use This Information?
Now that we have a basic understanding of how prospective students use YOUniversity, let's talk about how your higher ed brand can make use of this knowledge. Let's look at one of the 7 schools that HubSpot determined were "totally rocking their LinkedIn profiles." Arizona State University's page has a few lessons that we can take from it.
1. Spend time on your profile Description
In your profile description, you have to sell yourself in only a paragraph or two. This is where you have to make a pitch to prospective students and their parents who have landed on your page either through the tools listed above or organically. See below how Arizona State did it.
They include their mission statement as well as a short pitch about inclusion, pursuing discovery, etc. Another thing they do well here is filling out their profile completely. They include a link to their homepage, a phone number, email, address, and more details if you visit their page. This gives visitors as much information as possible. Also, it provides the opportunity to seek even more information for those interested.
2. Encourage alumni to connect
ALERT: THIS IS IMPORTANT. PAY ATTENTION!
Based on how LinkedIn sets up the Univeristy Rankings, it's easy to see that alumni are the key. Your university is going to want as many alumni as possible to connect with your page and list you on your profile. There are several reasons for this, some we've already covered.
Visitors to your page can see the distribution of what your alumni are doing post-graduation. As you can see, visitors are able to see where your alumni live, work and what industry they are in. This can be extremely helpful for the career-minded student as they are deciding whether or not to include your school on their list.
In addition, there is a tab on university pages for notable alumni. This is your chance to show off the best of the best of those who have attended your university and brag a little bit. Take a look at some of Arizona State University's notables. You want to connect with as many of your alumni as possible, so you can showcase the cream of the crop on this tab.
Lastly, current students and alumni have the ability to write reviews and recommendations of the university. These testimonials can be a huge recruiting tool for prospective students. There's no better resource for a review than someone who has been in the readers' shoes.
3. Use Visuals
This one is obvious. People respond more to visuals than text, so make use of your cover photo. Take a scenic photo of campus, or like below, have a selection of photos from campus and students, and even include video content. Don't ignore the importance of images!
Of course, the tenants of LinkedIn in general can be applied to higher ed brands as well. Job listings, sharing updates and participating in discussions, and monitoring trends can all be applied to higher ed, just like any other industry on LinkedIn.
For Higher Ed professionals, LinkedIn also has it's own resources page. This page provides video content that can help you understand how university rankings are determined, how to build a great profile, how to use the alumni tools and more. These all go into much greater detail than I have in this post, so if you're wanting more information check it out, along with the free case study below.