Social media for Student Services

15 Jun

Enrolment Services and Student Development and Services web content is evolving. Our content strategy will help students make connections between academic achievement, physical and mental health, involvement, and career building.

Student Services units will be represented within themed micro-sites, housing content based on student needs, not unit names. (Full migration to take place in 2013).

This new framework presents the question – should units continue to run separate social media profiles?

I’m leaning toward a central Student Services presence on social media.


All for one and one for all

Arguments against:

  • Some units have the resources and desire to speak to their own distinct audiences.
  • Some have existing online communities.
  • Some include social media tactics in their communications strategies.
  • Some have student contributors and that consistency is different to the tone and voice central Student Services channels will have.

Arguments for:

  • Taking a need-based approach to information on, but a unit-based approach to social media could create a disjointed and confusing experience.
  • Some units want to use social media, but don’t have enough resources or content to dedicate to their own accounts.
  • On their own, some units may not be “sexy” enough for social media. As part of unified Student Services accounts, we may capture the interest of students on topics they’re not usually exposed to.
  • The channels will be managed by one Communications Coordinator (me), with the help of other Communications Coordinators, responsible for their “themes”.

Let’s use Twitter as an example to build on those last two points.

Combining unit messaging for student gain

We could tweet specifically about the services available at the UBC Wellness Centre. We could tweet specifically about the learning resources available during exams. If we’re being serious about presenting a holistic experience for students, we could tweet a link to an article combining the two.

Yet to be written, the article content could read something like, “Studying hard? Don’t drink caffeine after 3pm … but if you do, try these 24/7 study spaces”. It’d include a list of study spaces (immediate benefit), but also links to pre-exam lifestyle tips like how to fight fatigue and gain energy (added benefit and cross-promotion).

Managing a central Student Services Twitter account

Say I use Hootsuite to manage the central Student Services Twitter account. I’d coordinate content with my Comms Coordinator colleagues and assign tweets to them that require the response of a subject-matter expert.

I’d set up theme-based keyword and phrase searches in Hootsuite. Comms Coordinators can pay attention to search streams relevant to their themes, respond to students and retweet valuable articles (aligned to the editorial calendar).

There’s also a lot of opportunity for a small team of Enrolment Services Professionals to be involved as subject-matter experts (we’ll call them “ESP social media ambassadors” for now).

The authentic student voice is important and can still work in this model. We’re looking at ways students can contribute to many channels, including in-person connections.

Too many directions for one Twitter account?

Students won’t be watching our Twitter stream every hour of every day. Tweets will be missed, some tweets won’t be relevant to every student (it happens) and additional, more targeted, communications channels will be in play.

Most importantly, content will be relevant to the academic cycle and student needs – that’s our direction.

For now, units can continue using their own social media accounts. We’re not the social media police. Streamlined and unified social media is going to take time, but it will take off.

You’ll notice I used “could” and “may” quite a bit here. This is because discussion around social media is developing as our integrated communications strategy comes together.

There’s so much more to consider. Blogs and Facebook and live chat, oh my! Urge to break for lunch rising … rising.


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