Northern State University and Presentation College are working to improve and expand their reach through social media.
They are among a growing number of colleges across the country using social media for public relations purposes, according to a study released by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. This year, 52 percent of colleges have integrated or plan to integrate social media into their public outreach strategy, up from 41 percent in 2012, according to the study.
Tim Beckham, Presentation College's marketing and public relations director, said social media has become a vital tool for connecting with current and prospective students. Facebook is the college’s primary social media platform, he said.
“We use it on a day-to-day basis,” Beckham said. “We’re in the process of venturing out into other social media platforms, but Facebook is our No. 1 right now.”
Northern State information specialist Elissa Dickey said the university uses social media to connect with everyone.
“We're trying to engage students, faculty and alumni and anyone curious about (Northern)," she said. "It can be informational or press releases. Sometimes we find media coverage about Northern, and we will link to that."
Dickey maintains all of Northern State’s social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The university's official Facebook and Twitter pages are updated on a daily basis, but YouTube updates are varied.
"On a slower day, we may only update one time. On a busy day, it could be up to five to seven times per day. YouTube is more whatever is available,” Dickey said.
Facebook’s popularity is slowly on the decline, specifically with the younger demographic, so Northern has to explore other avenues to reach prospective students, said Brenda Dreyer, Northern State university relations director.
“We’re finding that the younger demographic is more on Twitter, and we’re getting into Instagram because that’s where kids are at," she said.
Northern State began making a concerted effort to promote its brand through social media about a year ago, Dreyer said.
"We just refocused and knew that’s where kids were at, and so we responded appropriately.”
Beckham said Presentation decided to make social media a priority only recently. Beckham said Presentation hopes to add video and interactive tools to its official website.
Both colleges are in the process of updating their social media policies for next year. This includes posting guidelines for university-related accounts, such as Facebook pages for athletic teams at Northern.
“The policy is going to be more consistent, just how to use and what not to use, those kinds of pieces,” Dreyer said.
Originally Posted On: Aberdeennews.com By: Creighton Hoefer
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