When your school has a big announcement to make, it's important to consider all avenues of communication to get the word out. Social media and website optimization, for example, work hand-in-hand, so it's important to think of ways to bring them both together. Sharing content on social media and having a solid level of engagement are now becoming more crucial for your website's search rank. To summarize: when you post content to social media from your website, you can increase website traffic and overall search performance. That's why it made sense for Lenoir-Rhyne University to use both social media and their website to promote their new President's formal inauguration at the beginning of the school year.
Leslie Ellis, Digital Communications at LR, shared the communication strategies the team used to able to pull off a successful, interactive, and engaging event.
1. Use a Branded Hashtag
One of the best ways to promote an event or campaign online is through a branded hashtag because it opens a door to engaging communities while promoting the event. This gives the school an opportunity to crowdsource content from other followers who use the hashtag and organize the content you share.
Although hashtags are simple, it's also important to follow best practices to make them effective, including:
- Research the hashtag to make sure it hasn't been used before
- Be sure it is short so people will want to use it
- Promote it using a graphic
Following these best practices, they came up with #WelcomeWhitt.
"Our hashtag was introduced back in February when Dr. Whitt officially started as our new President. We kept using the hashtag up until the inauguration to inform our community of the special event we had planned," said Leslie. "This was great for engagement because our campus community had been exposed to the hashtag once before the inauguration ceremony."
In other words, their online community was already exposed to the hashtag months before the event took place so it was recognizable, easy to remember and use, and helped promote the inauguration event even more.
Try creating a branded hashtag for your next event or campaign with this free hashtag cheat sheet
2. Create a Snapchat Geofilter
Since 45% of Snapchat users are between the ages of 18 - 24, it made sense for LR to use the social media network as another avenue to promote their event. They did this by using a Snapchat Geofilter.
According to Snapchat, geofilters are a great way to get the word out about your event when someone is physically there taking a photo, which helps drive awareness and engagement, all in one swipe. Snapchat gives you the ability to design a custom filter based on your event, and then assign it to a specific location based on distance; this allows anyone using Snapchat in that area to snap a photo and use the filter.
"We had a Snapchat geofilter during the day of the inauguration that incorporated the same design as the student inauguration t-shirts," said Leslie.
3. Go Live With Video On Facebook and Instagram
Video is taking off on social media in 2017 — live video in particular. If you're not using video on your social media channels, you're not going to be able to engage with your audiences as well anymore, since 1/3 of online activity is spent watching video. Facebook Live videos, in particular, are watched three times longer than videos that aren't live.
LR decided to go live on Facebook during the Declaration of the Oath of Office followed by Dr. Whitt's Inaugural Address. So not only were followers able to view this happening in real time, but Facebook saved the video as a source of content, a nice ancillary benefit. This type of live video will easily help you connect with your followers in a new way.
Along with the live video on Facebook, they made sure to promote the event on other social media channels, like Instagram, to reach as many followers as possible.
4. Live Stream On Your Website
Streaming video accounts for over 2/3 of all internet traffic, and is expected to jump to 83% by 2020. Like live video on social media, live streaming has also become another tool schools can use to showcase its events. LRU hosted the live stream right on their website. According to Leslie, they promoted the live stream throughout social media with a link to the homepage where followers could also watch.
5. Create a Branded Graphic for the Event On Your Site's Homepage
Having a strong brand can make a real impact on your school's content marketing. Using specific fonts and colors in graphics, for example, will help your build your school's brand recognition with its online community. Color can increase brand recognition by up to 80%.
"We updated our homepage banner image on our website to include a graphic for the occasion," said Leslie.
What's nice about the branded graphic LRU created for the event is the black background helps the text stand out. Furthermore, they used this image multiple times across their website and social media.
6. Use a Page Pop On Your Website
By using Finalsite Composer, LR created a page pop around the event for its website. "The page pop helped us house all of the inauguration event information in one place as the visitor was on our page and helped promote the hashtag," said Leslie. This was just another easy way to notify visitors as they were coming to their website about the event, what hashtag to use or follow, and where they could find more information.
Your website is the perfect place to start sharing information about your school events, but it doesn't have to stop there. LRU exemplified a nice formula using both their website and social media tools to promote this historic event. By doing this with more for your school's marketing, you will be able to spread the word to even more people about your upcoming event, drive traffic to your website, and have an opportunity to engage with your online audiences.
How do your marketing strategies compare? Want to be on our Featured Friday blogs? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your success with social media, the Finalsite platform, admissions, crowdfunding, or content marketing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephanie brings a fresh new marketing perspective with her background in social media, communications, and radio broadcasting. She is a co-producer for the FinalsiteFM podcast network and is passionate about helping schools stay ahead of their marketing goals by tracking new trends and developments. She is also a practicing singer/songwriter and loves to expand her creativity in DIY projects.