How Important is Social Listening in Higher Education?


Every reputable university will have incorporated social media into its marketing strategy, knowing full well the importance of social in spreading its brand message to current and prospective students. But while we’re quite good at talking on social media, how good are we at listening? Finding your target audience on social starts with good social listening, and from there it will help to improve your university marketing efforts in several key ways:

1 – Content creation

In most industries, it’s someone’s full-time job to dream up new content with which to populate their inbound marketing (people like me for instance). For those people, many will wish they had access to a constant stream of new stories and information — findings that have a huge impact on their industry and perhaps even the world. This happens every single day in higher education. Groundbreaking research, papers, and findings are published every day on multiple platforms by your peers and colleagues, all of which can be translated into content to be shared with your network.

With proper social listening you can populate your own digital marketing channels, such as your university blog, newsletters and social media platforms, with exciting and relevant content — all without even typing a single word into Google.

2 – Increasing engagement

The role of online engagement is continually evolving, and it has become increasingly important to developing better relationships between students and their institutions. The uncertainty of the funding environment has compelled higher education institutions to work towards improving communication with students and involving them more in everything from curriculum design to quality enhancement, even in changing policy and leading organisational change.

It’s important to remember that engagement is NOT an act of self-promotion. It is about listening to your communities and engaging with them on their interests and concerns. And engagement doesn’t need to be limited to just student interactions.

3 – Building your network

The benefits of social media in building and growing a personal and professional network are well documented. However, it can also be used to the same extent for higher education institutions to build and grow their own networks. While it is, of course, important to have students enrolled at your university, there are many other connections that need to be created and nurtured in order for an institution to continue to be successful. With a keen ear to the social media ground, a university is able to build better relationships with employers, alumni, policymakers, research partners, and clients — basically anyone you would consider ‘your people’.

There are plenty of social media tools that can help improve your university’s social listening. Applications such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, and Meltwater allow you to constantly monitor mentions of selected keywords and hashtags relevant to your university.

For more advice on social listening for your university, follow us on Twitter.

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