Morgan Campbell, Social Media Specialist at Indiana University Bloomington, is one of the 12 presenters of the 2020 Higher Ed Content Conference .
In this 4-question interview, Morgan tells us about best and worst content trends in higher ed, content measurement, great content ideas and a favorite tool.
1) What are the worst and best content trends in higher ed?
It’s time to kiss good-bye content that physically doesn’t fit your channel. Brands who are not formatting their graphics or videos to fit the screen are missing the mark. We have so much free real estate in these platforms that aren’t being used because we are using the same wide graphic across. If you want your followers to stop and notice something, you need to make sure they see it first. Think of it this way, if you grab your mail from your mailbox, you will notice the most significant piece of mail that fits inside. So, let’s start using our given space and take up our followers’ entire screen.
One thing I have loved seeing universities do more often is more authentic, positive, and conversational content. It’s content that makes your followers stop and engage with it, because they want to be part of the post too. A great example of this is when @IUPUI posted on Twitter:
Several followers starting commenting with positive messages, those who didn’t follow may now follow IUPUI because they were tagged, and it was also great content to monitor. As social media managers, our content is only as good as we are feeling. Finding ways to bring positive content into the lives of students can be hard some days, but the results can surprise you.
2) Why is it still so difficult to measure the performance of higher ed content?
We’re not trying to sell products in higher education, but an experience. We want future students to apply and enroll. We want current students to stay here and be engaged. We want alumni to feel proud that they went here. We want parents to know their students are learning and engaged. Unlike other markets, we can’t only base our performance on how much of a product we sold in the last quarter.
We have to take our audience on a journey from the moment they are interested to the moment they have their degree in hand. Even though they took the step to enroll on campus, we are only at the beginning of their journey through their remaining years at our schools. That’s why it’s so essential for us as social media managers to make sure we are hitting these points on their journey and making sure we are engaging with them throughout. Our content is what reminds them why they are here, giving them the confidence to feel like their college journey was worth it. It isn’t straightforward to say what would make this easier other than really diving deep and taking the time to understand the various journeys that our audience takes to stay engaged with us. That’s our job as marketers.
3) Share 3 pieces of higher ed content that made you envious or proud.
I admire the work that was done at the University of Tennesse Knoxville last fall when it came to taking something small and turning it into a beautiful campaign. Seeing the impact that the social media team had on this boy (and the nation) really made me realize that our jobs in HESM are essential and worth it. In short, a young boy made his own Vol’s t-shirt to show his love for the school but was made fun of because he didn’t have a real one. His t-shirt design became an actual design and raised over $1 million to benefit STOMP out Bullying. Knowing that the social media team saw it and ran with it shows us that we don’t always need to think of the best content but use our resources that come to us.
Another great piece I saw over the holidays was seeing over 40 university athletics departments come together to create an entertaining Twitter thread. University of Michigan athletics started it off with “On the first day of Christmas, College Athletics gave to me a Maize and Blue Christmas Tree,” and from there, other universities started to chime in on the following days with something related to their campus. It was great to see so many schools come together, and it made followers excited and also amazed that this was possible.
I’ve noticed that Student Vlogs have been super successful on many campuses, and that’s one thing we see here at IU Bloomington.
I think these vlogs have a way to tell the student story authentically, making viewers feel like they are on campus with them. We’ve noticed our views grow immensely since beginning our series, and the engagement has been more than we imagined! Not only are we showing off students, but we’re showing off the different ways students can be involved. We’ve been able to feature a student in a wheelchair, a student at Dance Marathon, and a student who is transgender. They told their stories in a way that we, as higher-ed marketers, may not have been able to tell. It’s been a beautiful thing to watch these students do their thing.
4) What’s your favorite new tool for content work?
One of my favorite tools is Canva.
Fortunately, our team has a premium version, which allows us to upload our brand colors and fonts. Canva has been super helpful when making Instagram stories specifically because it is so easy to use. Since our team has multiple interns, it is incredibly beneficial to be able to go back in when someone is not in that day to either tweak or download the graphics that were made already. We have been able to be much more creative when it comes to graphics and Instagram stories, and Canva is only growing in how it can be used with several updates in just the last year. I highly recommend it to anyone who may not be super talented in Photoshop!