How Our Academic Advising Center Led the College in Social Media

I have found social media for academic advising offices to be tricky. For one, we are not selling a product or service for profit. Second, it is very time-consuming to set everything up and maintain it.

Over the past couple of years, my colleagues and I in the academic advising office of the College of Business and Technology at UT Tyler have tried to tackle this problem. I have summed up our social media plan here for you. If you want more in-depth information on the topics below, click on the links in pink.

#1 Bribe your co-workers with food.

You cannot run all the social media for your office alone. Well…you can, but that would be boring. Hunt down that person in the office who everyone depends on for unofficial ‘tech support’ (you know, the person who magically formats tables in Word with the click of a button). Then find your social media ‘guru’–that colleague who not-so-secretly spends most of day on Pinterest and Instagram. Treat these people to lunch and tell them you need their ninja technology skills to set up a social media campaign for your office.  In order for your project to have longevity, you must bring others on board…plus it is way more fun!

In our office we have three academic advisors, and each of us takes two days a week to post to our sites.

#2 Choose no more than two applications to get started.

There is no need to keep up with every single trend. We started with the easy ones, Facebook and Twitter. These provide easy access to multiple account managers and can be managed from our office computers.  In the beginning, I suggest you steer clear of applications that need a single ‘owner’ (like LinkedIn) or apps like Instagram that are best used with a phone.

Start a Facebook Page.

Start a Twitter account.

#3 Create a schedule then watch your stats.

At first, it was daunting to figure out what to post and when to post, so we set up a schedule for our team of three advisors, kind of like this:

Facebook   Twitter
Monday   Monday
9am Internship Posting 9am Internship Posting
12pm Inspiring quote
4pm GMAT/GRE Tip 4pm GMAT/GRE Tip
Tuesday   Tuesday  
9am Advising Tip of the Week 9am Advising Tip of the Week
12pm Humorous Infographic
4pm Upcoming deadline 4pm Upcoming deadline
And so forth…

Once we had a schedule in place, we did not deviate from it for a few weeks. We watched our stats to see what types of posts our audience enjoyed the most, then adjusted our schedule and/or topics accordingly.

#4 Use a social media manager like Hootsuite to schedule your posts ahead of time.

We use the free, basic version of Hootsuite:  Hootsuite Quick-Start-Guide (HINT: If you run your accounts through Hootsuite, create a pseudo-Facebook account then use this account to create a Facebook Page for your office. Link both accounts to Hootsuite, but only post to the Page, identified by a little yellow flag.)

#5 Have fun.

The moment you start to stress is the moment you are doing it all wrong. So you got busy and didn’t post anything for a couple of days? No big deal. So you made a spelling error? Whatever, it happens. Just keep at it, read everything you can about social media, and be adventurous.

Random things I have learned.

People want to be encouraged.  Students love infographics.  Do not try to understand hashtags, #justusethem and you will #figureitout.  Students like to see pictures of faculty goofing off.   Job postings get a lot of views/clicks.  Balance fun with informative.

What are your office’s social media sites? Do you have any tips for me? Confess your worst social media flops, give me some ideas, or ask me a question in the comments! Thank you for reading, and look for my next post on March 15.

Oh, and feel free to check out our advising office’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts for ideas!
NOTE: Our college loved what we were doing so much that the Marketing Coordinator took over all the social media, adopting the sites we’d set up and many of our practices. It was very exciting to see our efforts recognized!