Skip to Main Content
Neon vertical lines and glowing colorful clouds

Social Media in Higher Ed

Managing social media on behalf of a college or university can be a complex, daunting task. Each facet of the institution, from to academics to athletics, demands time and attention. And during the past year, the challenge became infinitely greater as schools sought to keep students and their families informed amid COVID-19.

That’s why it’s inspiring to see the efforts being made by higher ed social media managers. Every day, they work behind the scenes to connect with their institutions’ stakeholders and tell their unique stories. While there are literally hundreds worthy of recognition, here are nine of the best from schools large and small:

Harvard University

Given its reputation, it’s no surprise that Harvard is at the head of the higher ed social media class. However, Harvard doesn’t just rest on its laurels: in addition to using social to build on its prestigious reputation, it makes posts fun and relatable–the perfect tone for social.

Indiana Tech

This Asher client may be smaller than the others on this list, but Indiana Tech keeps pace through authentic, timely content. The university does an excellent job of showcasing its personable president, Dr. Karl Einolf, and using social media for transparent communication, including a Q & A on Instagram that allowed students to share some of their concerns in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

New York University

NYU would merit a mention based on sheer volume alone: their social team manages more than 1,000 accounts altogether. It’s not just about quantity, however: NYUs team also consistently shares quality content, like its “Violet Spotlight” series of student success stories. These intimate portraits give prospects an eye into the personalities they’ll meet on campus and the benefits of studying at NYU.

Stanford University

Stanford’s social media efforts are consistent with its reputation as a world class university, but one aspect of its work is truly unique: the Stanford Social Media Lab, a research center dedicated to understanding the psychological and interpersonal effects of social media. This adds to Stanford’s reputation for research and complements its other efforts, which leverage its position as an academic stalwart.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

UCLA makes the most of its climate by featuring beautiful visual content on all its social channels. UCLA also leverages user-generated content through hashtags like #SceneAtUCLA, which gets the audience involved and makes its feeds even more vibrant.

University of Florida

While it does well on every major social media platform, UF is especially noteworthy for mastering Giphy and TikTok, thereby meeting prospects where they are and posting content uniquely designed for young audiences. UF also does a fantastic job of segmenting its audience on Twitter, with separate accounts for different facets of the university.

University of Michigan

Like UF, UM was an early adopter of platforms that skew young, and it also has prioritized stories, keeping its content fresh and relevant. Alos, UM’s centralized social media hub makes it easy for students to stay connected to the university and each other.

University of Texas at Austin

UT has more than a million followers collectively on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but it stands out due to its mastery of LinkedIn–a platform often neglected by other institutions. UT’s LinkedIn Page is colorful (something not very common on the platform) and relevant to LinkedIn’s older-skewing, decision-maker audience.

West Virginia University

Another institution that makes good use of its president, ”bow tie enthusiast” E. Gordon Gee, and the more playful nature of social media. WVU clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously–which holds other colleges and universities back.

The Bottom Line

Each of these institutions has made a clear commitment to doing it well and adapting to the needs of their audiences. As social continues to supplant other media in terms of reaching prospects and their influencers, they’ll enjoy a tremendous advantage in terms of establishing their brand and telling their stories–something that could provide lessons for brands even outside of higher ed.

More of our thoughts