I am the Internet.
Okay. I am not the Internet, but I am a part of the generation that was introduced to it during our formative years. I signed up for my first Juno email account as a senior in high school. That terrible dial-up sound was a symphony to my ears because when it stopped it meant I was officially connected to AOL. I experienced firsthand the impact of going online. It exposed me to different cultures and opened my mind to parts of the world that I would have never had access to otherwise. Social media networks like MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook were a regular part of conversations and became a natural way to communicate with friends and strangers alike.
Fast forward to many, many years later, sitting in marketing planning meetings, questions of how the college I work at was going to communicate with potential and current students began to come up. There were concerns over diminishing budgets, overall printing needs, and paper waste.
Building a Corporate Social Media Page
Through my personal experience with social media, the most immediate and practical solution was to establish the college’s official corporate Facebook page and along with it an official Twitter handle. Through these two mediums we have been able to expand our communication efforts, build relationships with key audiences, and increase the frequency of messages. Where print pieces take time to plan, design, and produce, social media has provided us the immediacy to share posts and reach students and community members.
Communicating with Our Target Audience
We have discovered that each social media network has its own distinct audience and we are now able to strategically adapt messages accordingly. These mediums, particularly Facebook, allow potential students to reach us from around the globe. We often answer and redirect questions from international students who want to attend the college. They use Facebook as a search tool to identify and contact us versus through the college’s website.
Adding New Social Media Platforms as They Arise
In the last three years we added Instagram to our social media strategy. Through Instagram and YouTube the college can convey the excitement of the programs and student life to the audience. For a potential student or a former graduate of the college, being able to see the campus and what it means to be a Vaquero is more interesting than being told and provides an opportunity for them to form a connection with the college.
Social media has afforded us a chance to tell the stories our stakeholders will find most interesting and to communicate them at a fraction of the cost of a printed piece. This isn’t to say that print has no value, because it absolutely does and if it didn’t I would be out of a job; however, social media has changed how often we communicate with our audience and what we tell them.
Material will need to be engaging despite the medium, but social media allows us to participate in two-way communications. It has revolutionized our relationship with current and prospective students, alumni, media, and the surrounding community.
Learn More About Corporate Social Media Strategy
Ann Simon is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.
When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family, chasing my niece and nephews, spoiling my dog Pixel, and discovering new coffee places around Los Angeles.
*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.