Finalsite has been designing social media mash-up pages since social media was a "thing" for schools, appearing on school websites as early as 2010. Social media was still in its early stages for schools then, with some early adopters getting ahead of trends. But by 2015, at least 50% of the websites we launched had some sort of social media component, with many schools opting for a custom mash-up.
As social media has increased in popularity, so did its need to be a part of school websites, as it offers the opportunity to provide authentic, up-to-date content with minimal effort from your school's website team. It's why by the end of 2016, almost every single website we launched had a social media component thanks to the release of a new product, Finalsite Feeds.
Finalsite Feeds is a module that allows clients to build custom social media mash-ups from more than 15 social media networks, monitor and moderate posts, and analyze their success. While most schools use the product to simply tie their most recent social media posts into their school's website, some schools are pushing the new product to new heights.
One of those schools is Choate Rosemary Hall. Sarah Gordon, the school's Assistant Director of Communications for Web and Social Media, joined us at FinalsiteU in June to share just how influential Finalsite Feeds has been for their marketing, changing the way they share social content on their website.
The first main component of Choate's website social strategy is the custom look of their feed.
The Live@Choate feed is a custom design by our Senior Web Designer Brittany Murray. Brittany says she found inspiration from their original mash-up page, the "Sounder Board." However, she decided that it was time to give their feed a more bright and vibrant feel. "Rather than using all of their colors, I chose to keep it minimal, yet still bold, with their main blues and yellow," said Brittany.
The new design can be found on their homepage, as well as their "Live @ Choate" social media mash-up page. However, these are not the only locations where Choate uses Finalsite Feeds; they have an entire social strategy dedicated to the module's robust functionality.
Finalsite Feeds and Social Media Strategy
Prior to Sarah, there wasn't a dedicated social media manager at the school, which meant there wasn't a social media strategy. Now, things are much different.
A big piece of using Finalsite Feeds is actually creating different streams of content, whether they be hashtags or social accounts — so part of Sarah's job is taking into account what her audiences want to engage with.
So, they take the time to know their audiences. Through continuous planning and researching these audiences, they've become experts in knowing what kind of social media posts they need to create to target the audience and show them what they want to see.
They rely on programs like Sprout Social and Canva to create and share their content, but then use Finalsite Feeds and Composer to display social content throughout their website. The Feeds element lets schools create different mash-ups for different site pages, and Choate capitalizes on this with custom site sections for departments and activities.
For example, they have their school photographer upload pictures of some of the athletic teams into a specific flickr album, which is pulled in as a source in their Feed on this page. They setup the Feeds element so it only shows that one source, and display any new photos in the feed once the school photographer adds them to the album in Flickr.
They also use it for more time-limited events, including these fun highlights from their last reunion.
By having Finalsite Feeds incorporated into their school's website, Choate also has the ability to track analytics , such as the number of page views, how many clicks went back to social media posts from the feed and the number of followers the school's social accounts are gaining over time. This allows Sarah to further fine-tune the content and sources she uses on Choate's website based on which posts are the most successful.
The Value of Hashtags for Internal and External Campaigns
With Feeds, you can use a hashtag as a source — meaning you can pull in social posts from everyone in your community, not just your school. This is an example of authentic content: posts that individuals from your community share on their own on social media about your school. The value of this is not only is it free, but additional content can be shared on your social platforms without you having to do any work; it allows your feed to have a nice variety of content with different viewpoints (and if you're like me, people will love seeing their post featured on your feed).
Free Resource: Hashtag Cheat Sheet
Choate encourage students, faculty, and staff to use their designated hashtags and promote them on social to the rest of their followers to join in on the conversation. For example, they use their popular #GoChoate hashtag for sports and to show off alums' school spirit.
If you're concerned that your hashtags can be used by anyone, not to worry. Finalsite Feeds offers moderation and curation tools through the Feeds dashboard to control the content being displayed in your website's feeds. Moderation can be automated, manual, or mixed. With automated moderation, you can prevent posts containing specific words, phrases and/or profane content from appearing in your feed, while allowing more appropriate content to be displayed on your website automatically. You can even filter posts by location! With manual moderation, you can individually approve or reject each post before it appears in you feed, preventing any post from being displayed until you give it the OK. Mixed moderation, provides the best of both worlds: manually moderate the content coming from hashtags while allowing your official account posts to appear automatically. For Choate, this provides peace of mind, as they can be sure that only the content they want to appear on their website does.
For Choate, this provides peace of mind, as they can be sure that only the content they want to appear on their website does.
At the end of the day, the goal is to get your community to your website and get prospective families to your campus — and now social media is a vital piece of the journey. Using a tool like Finalsite Feeds, you have the ability to customize the social content website visitors see, based on a social channel, RSS feed, hashtag, and more — putting you in control of your social media.
Learn how you can improve your school's social media strategy using Feeds for as little as $200/month.
Want to be on our Featured Friday blogs? E-mail us at email@example.com 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. Stephanie 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.