Amanda Greenhoe is writer and social media manager at Calvin College. In this interview she explains how those who manage universities’ communication efforts have a lot to say on a relatively small budget, and how they can use social media and related tools to maximize the reach and efficiency of the messages they share.
This is the third in a series of interviews with professionals who are driving digital transformation in a range of industries, and who are experts in their field.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Calvin College.
I serve as writer and social media manager at Calvin College. I manage ad campaigns, create print and digital communications, and oversee social media for the college. It is a privilege to be part of the Calvin College community, a remarkable place for Christian thought and learning.
2) What are the key opportunities and challenges social media presents for higher education institutions?
Institutions of higher education impact students in powerful ways. For many, college is the place where they begin to focus on their passions and prepare for their life ahead, including future careers and scholarly work. Because of this unique environment, those associated with a college (i.e. students, alumni, faculty, staff) are often deeply tied to its mission. Social media offers an opportunity to continue the conversations that constituents are having about the school they love.
One challenge of using social media in the higher education space is that higher education resources, fittingly, go largely to educating students. Therefore communications staff must find creative solutions to maximize social media use on a limited budget.
3) How is social media applied in different departments and communities at Calvin College, and what are the benefits?
In collaboration with communications colleagues, I offer consultations to departments and programs at Calvin to consider if social media could be an effective avenue for promoting their work. If so, the program is encouraged to begin using a particular platform (or platforms) to share their story on social media.
Social media can magnify the overall brand of a college, but also provide promotion for specific departments and programs within the institution.
4) How do you go about tailoring social media communication for staff, students and alumni (three very different groups)?
Every group is important and valued, and we strive to reflect that in our messaging. We focus on the key users of each channel and tailor our messages to them. For example, Snapchat reaches mainly prospective and current students, so our snaps are built with these audiences in mind.
5) How has launching an advocacy program impacted the engagement of staff, students and alumni in university life?
It is still a bit too early to see a definitive correlation between the use of a social media advocacy program and engagement in university life, but we are encouraged by the engagement we’ve seen thus far.
For more on the advocacy program Calvin College has launched for students, staff and alumni, check out the case study.
We would like to thank Amanda for collaborating on this blog post. Stay tuned for the next installment in our expert insight series!
Miss the first two installments? Catch up on them here: