ImageHigher education institutions require a very unique marketing plan and digital identity. They have a built-in captive audience of alumni, students, parents, faculty and staff, however all of these groups (understandably) feel they have an important stake in the institution (possibly even more so than traditional investors). As higher ed communication professionals, it is our jobs to make sure all constituents feel personally stewarded and connected to the brand not only when they are on campus, but before and after as well.

Because of these specific needs, it is important to always have content in our “back pockets” that we know will create a positive impact online. Whether interactivity is declining, your institution has received negative digital exposure, or you simply want to connect with your community members, there are three types of content that are very likely to creative positive social interactions with your brand.

1. Provides a Sense of Place
The first type of shareable content in higher ed provides a sense of place or belonging. Alumni, students, faculty and staff all share some common views of your institution that make them feel comfortable and at home. When asking new students why they picked University XYZ, they almost always respond, I stepped on campus and I just knew. Capitalize on this commonality that makes your institution feel like home to such a large array of community members.

Example: At Trinity University, where I work, the centerpiece of campus is the Murchison Tower. Students climb the tower to represent the beginning of their undergrad years, and the end. This tower is also a landmark that can seen from much of San Antonio. Pictures of this tower are always highly shared because every community member can relate to the tower, and knows that the Tower represents Trinity without any other context. It provides a sense of place.

2. Adds Value to Constituents Investment in your Institution
Some digital content makes community members feel that they made the correct choice by being a part of your university. This type of content may make degrees seem more valuable, the institution seem more renowned, or money and time spent seem worthwhile. Community members like sharing this type of information as validation that they selected the right university.

Example: The most common example of “value adding” content is college rankings. All community members feel validated when their university is ranked well within common college ranking publications. Community members also like to share and interact when another community member achieves something great: a student’s research wins an award, an alumnus is hired at a well-known company, or a professor is featured in the news.

3. Provides Expertise to Common Problems
As higher education institutions, we are specially poised to provide expertise in an array of areas. Often higher ed research can become overly technical and jargon-filled for someone who is unfamiliar with the subject area. However if you, as a communication professional, can drill down and find the way in which this research may affect a person’s everyday life or help solve a common problem, you can create highly shareable content.

Example: An engineering student and faculty member at Trinity research microwave technology. Their research became relatable (and highly shared) when we learned that this technology could be used to detect breast cancer more safely than mammograms can.

Do you have other broad types of “back pocket” content that you share on your social channels?

image: college/shutterstock