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Enrolment numbers are critical for the success of any university. And with 75% of students researching universities online before choosing one, social media provides valuable opportunities to build relationships with potential students during this decision-making process.
Here’s how the communications team at the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), one of Spain’s top technical universities, manages multiple social media accounts to increase the number of followers, student engagement rate, and ultimately boost enrolment.
Informed by their social media data—which shows that new students engage most often with universities during the summer (pre-admission) and at the start of their first semester (admission)—the communications team at UPV has developed a multi-level social media strategy designed to make it easy for students to reach out with questions, as well as find information to help them on their student journey.
We asked Daniel Robles, UPV’s Digital Communication Specialist, if he could share the tactics that make up the university’s social media strategy, and what he has learned so far from his experience. You’ll see how Daniel and his team successfully improved processes and communication and set achievable goals for their social media efforts by:
- identifying and prioritizing for high-volume periods, and adjusting staff levels as necessary
- reaching out to students who require information or assistance
- committing to an ongoing social strategy that continues to support current students and alumni with news and relevant updates/invitations to events
How to use social media listening the right way
The university’s communications team monitors mentions and messages that contain their official @handles such as @UPV, but there are many instances when students or the general public mention the university in a conversation (without the @handle: UPV, “el Poli”, “la Politècnica”…) or misspell the name (Universidad Politécnica de Valencia).
Not wanting to miss any of these mentions, Daniel creates multiple search streams in the university’s Hootsuite dashboard. These streams are available to everyone on the communications team, and include mentions of the university name, names of faculties, and other keywords relevant to the UPV.
“We see three times the mentions and activity at the start of a new term, so there are many questions from students that we can help answer, but only if we are able to find them.” – Daniel Robles, Digital Communication Specialist, Universitat Politècnica de València
How to measure your social media campaigns
The UPV’s social campaigns are not just limited to prospective students or students just starting out at the university. Daniel and his team also use social media to share news about research opportunities, courses and curriculum changes, and general information, essentially turning social media into a news hub for students and alumni.
Social media fosters communication (it’s not just an online bulletin board), and the communications team at UPV pay close attention to what type of information students are requesting—and make sure that information is delivered quickly. The goal is to have the university be seen as not just the first stop for information about the university itself, but the only and most comprehensive stop.
“This year, we increased the number of followers by over 560 users in just two weeks. Usually we see 250 new users, so over 560 users in a community of 34,000 students is a great number for us.” – Daniel Robles, Digital Communication Specialist, Universitat Politècnica de València
How to increase team communication and improve collaboration
Timing is everything when it comes to the success of social media efforts. To that end, Daniel and his team at UPV rely on the Assignment functionality in the Hootsuite dashboard to share messages or mentions with the team member best equipped to respond. By streamlining the process of assigning these tasks, students receive the information they require without delay.
As part of the university’s social media mandate—providing accurate, timely information to students especially during busy times like admissions week—the team also takes advantage of the Hootsuite mobile app to track, organize, and answer questions on the same day students submit them. Moreover, they add a new team member to Hootsuite to be sure all the requests are solved quickly and efficiently.
By clearly defining goals (in this case, answer all questions posed through social media) and maintaining open lines of communication internally as a team, as well as with students, Daniel and the communications team at UPV have successfully used social media to contribute to the university’s high student satisfaction rates and support an effective enrollment strategy. How effective? “93% of our students would choose to study again at this university if given the choice of starting their degree over again,” says Daniel.
“We rely heavily on the Hootsuite assign functionality to not only make it easy for everyone on the team to answer quickly, but also to see what the most common questions are or if there are any blockers.” – Daniel Robles, Digital Communication Specialist, Universitat Politècnica de València