If I learned one thing in my years managing digital and social media, it’s that audiences will engage with anything related to food or weather. The trick is relating those topics to a higher education audience.
We have arrived at the time of the year when weather and higher education have a perfect overlap. It’s time to embrace the pumpkin spice latte drinking, sweater wearing, apple orchard visiting, leaf-viewing craze and show your campus in all of its fall glory.
Quick disclaimer—if you are on a campus that doesn’t enjoy fall because a) you have a beach/ocean or b) you have amazing sunshine 12 months out of the year, please let the rest of us enjoy something that isn’t snow to showcase. Thank you.
College campuses and fall are meant to be together. Think of the landmark or most scenic place on your campus. Now imagine it painted in the multiple colors that fall provides. It’s a digital/social media slam dunk.
When I managed the social media channels at the University of Iowa, we decided to take advantage of our lovely fall foliage that surrounded the Old Capitol on campus (the historic spot that everyone associates with the University of Iowa). The picture below was taken by Tim Schoon, one of the talented photographers at the University of Iowa.
This photo became an instant classic. It quickly became (at that time) the most engaging social media, across all channels, in our channels’ histories. Once we realized that this single photo struck a chord with numerous audiences, we knew it had to be used in more ways. It became the photo we used for promoted social posts, the “hero” image on the University of Iowa home page throughout the fall; it was featured in numerous admissions recruitment materials, etc. This single photo logged more miles than any other photo we had used because we had the data (and social media comments) to back up the emotions and feelings it stirred up in our audiences.
There is something iconic, warm, and fuzzy about the combination of fall and college. Many schools realize this and some of these examples are below.
Fall in Boston is like watching a baseball game at, well, Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. It’s like listening to jazz at Preservation Hall in New Orleans. It’s like Oreos and milk. Fall and Boston just go together.
Boston University obviously realizes that its audiences will love any and all fall-related content that is shared. This post is simple, yet stunning. The text brings up a feeling and lets the photo do the talking. The post has over 2,000 engagements and I’m sure this photo will be used in other ways as the year progresses.
Tying beautiful fall scenery into a certain event about to take place on campus is a great way to say “look at how awesome it is here” without being too pushy about it. That’s what Skidmore did with this Instagram post and it’s great.
University of Wisconsin
Posting your own content is one thing, but Wisconsin has asked its followers to participate and the results are pretty awesome.
By using #UWFall in posts, Badgers have the chance to have their own content shared on a social aggregator page. This concept not only lets your audiences take part in the season, it gives the social media manager(s) A LOT more content to play with. I’m betting that at least 90 percent of the people reading this feel short-staffed and don’t have the time to be posting everything on every channel. Your audiences are a great source of content…you just have to ask.
Your audiences love you. They wouldn’t follow you if they didn’t. They also love fall. Give your audiences what they want.
Fall photos are some of the most iconic and multi-functional pieces of content you can have. One photo can be used across multiple channels in multiple departments. Now is the PRIME TIME to be adding to your photo collection.
If you don’t have the time, budget, or manpower to boost your photo album, ask for help! User-generated content is a great way to interact with your audiences. Go talk to a photo class on campus and see if they would be willing to assist your office as a part of a classroom project.
In today’s “content is king” world of higher education marketing, visual content might just be the most important. Capitalize on the opportunity to showcase your campus in a way that makes your audiences want to reach for their pumpkin spice latte, and their application or donation form.