The VPM Blog

Social Media Fails in Higher Ed

Posted by Laurie Webb on Apr 8, 2015 9:54:00 AM

So your school is on social media, that’s great! Welcome to 2015. While having a social media presence is extremely important, you’re not guaranteed success from simply having a Facebook profile. You may have a lot of followers, but if you aren’t increasing alumni loyalty, generating conversations or increasing student enrollment, then your social media strategy is failing. But don’t fear, because we have advice that could turn your social media strategy into a success. Here are a few social media fails and how to fix them.



1. You have no goals.

Goals are incredibly important. If you don’t have social media goals then it’s a lot harder to track how your social media strategy is doing. When you have set goals, it allows you to quickly react when your campaign isn’t performing the way you planned. Having goals also allows you to evaluate the success of your campaign - you can compare where you are with where you want to be. Your social media goals should be in line with your university’s broader marketing strategy so that your efforts will drive toward overall university objectives.

2. You’re on the wrong social media network, or not on the right ones.

Each social media network has its own personality and it’s your job to figure out if that personality is right for your university. Different audiences use different social platforms in different ways, so be sure you're aware of that when deciding what social platform to use and how to keep your school's personality alive. Showing your personality while appropriately engaging with alumni, students and prospective students is important so they can relate to more than a big institution. Each audience is different and will be much more responsive if you allow your personality to shine through in a way they can relate. 

3. You haven’t found your university’s voice and tone.

One of the first things you need to do is figure out what your University’s personality is and then convey it into your social media networks. Ask yourself, if my university was a person, what personality would it have and how would it interact with people? Your university’s personality may differ slightly on each social media network because, like mentioned above, each platform has its own personality. Although, don’t let the university’s personally differ too much. Think of it like this: A person may act more formally and professionally at a business function (LinkedIn), but that same person will act a little more casually in a laid back environment (Facebook). 

4. You aren’t posting for the right buyer persona and/or you are posting junk.

Remember how we mentioned that each social media website has its own personality? That also includes individuals who use these platforms. Use segmentation. Write blog posts that are helpful to your buyer persona. Cater your content to individuals you actually want to reach, not to the masses. Use key words within your content and always optimize your post for SEO. Also, write in a way that will be intriguing to your audience. No one likes boring content. Fun Fact: According to Buffer Social, Posts that include photos get 39% more interaction than text-only posts.

5. You’re forgetting to link your content back to your website.

This is a huge no no. Always link your content back to your website. This drives your traffic straight to the money making source! Linking back to your website allows individuals to learn more about your university. From there, this could turn your prospects into leads and possibly into future students or contributing alumni.

6. You aren’t interacting enough.

People love it when you interact with them over social media. The more interactions you have with people, the better relationship you will have with them. Answer questions people ask you. Thank people who retweet your content, or compliment you over social media. Think of it this way: If you were face-to-face with that same person who asked you a question or complimented you, it would be incredibly rude if you ignored them. Always interact with your audience because it will build new relationships and maintain old ones.

7. You aren’t evaluating your social media goals.

The purposes of evaluations are for measuring your return on investment and figuring out whether or not your goals were reached. Evaluations should be an integral part of your entire social media strategy. Finding out what worked or what didn’t work will allow you to learn from mistakes and to help you become better at managing social media. Most major social media networks have built-in analytic tools. There are also many programs out there you can use to help analyze and evaluate your data.

8. You aren’t learning from your mistakes.

You will never have an effective social media in higher ed strategy if you ignore your mistakes that you learned from evaluating your goals. Pay attention to the numbers. Figure out what’s working and what’s not working and adjust your strategy accordingly. If you find that posting late at night gets the least interactions, (which you will find that to be true) figure out when the best time to post is and move on.


Learn from other people’s mistakes and skip the heartache and frustration of a stagnant social media campaign. Take our advice and avoid these higher ed social media fails. It will be sure to turn your social media strategy around from dissatisfactory into exceptional.

University's Tool Kit for Launching a Remarkable Campaign

photo credit: Not Succeed? via photopin (license)

Topics: social media marketing, higher education

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