Upon completing my latest bi-annual report, I noticed that several universities consistently rise to the top tier of engagement rate. They’re consistent enough that, by now, I can confidently say that something about their social media strategy is working. In hopes of gleaning inspiration for our own strategy, I took a look at the content that was driving the most engagement for these universities and uncovered a unique emergent theme that was driving each school’s excellence in content strategy.
Washington State: Solid Visuals
The Cougars rank third in Instagram public interactions per post per 1K followers, and their visual content is a major reason why. Not only do they capture great images, they capture images that contain necessary ingredients to perform well on social media. For example, this shot of a proposal taking place near the end zone during a football game.
Engagement photo: Check.
This one checks all the boxes for a likable photo on Instagram.
Again, WSU does a fantastic job at weaving together multiple strong features. Sunsets are Instagram gold. So is football. Why not both?
The incoming-freshmen-spelling-out-the-acronym shot is always a favorite.
Texas A&M: Knowing Their Audience
Lots of social media accounts have the talking part down, but it’s the art of listening that truly sets one apart from another. Texas A&M knows their audience, and they speak their language well. Reveille, the extremely photogenic mascot, is often featured in content because she’s beloved by the TAMU community. The first Fightin’ Texas Aggie Yell practice of the season generated 16,726 likes on the TAMU Instagram account. Featuring athletics is a solid strategy for a school who recently had 36,567 students in attendance for the season opener against Texas State.
Northern Arizona: Voice & Tone
Sometimes captions are the hardest part of making a post. But Northern Arizona knows what they’re doing. They’re social, they’re relatable, and they’re clever. Check out these examples of social-friendly text.
— NAU (@NAU) September 6, 2019
— NAU (@NAU) September 5, 2019
Michigan State: School Pride
Babies sporting Spartan helmets. Logo-covered Easter eggs. Painted rocks on campus. Michigan State U seems to have it all, and they expertly display their school pride in creative images that give fans a reason to rally and come together while rooting for the Spartans to succeed from the field to the classroom.
South Carolina: Community
Three words that come to mind when browsing USC’s social channels: warm, welcoming, and supportive. An example is this post text on Instagram following a campus tragedy:
It’s been an unbelievably difficult couple of weeks for our community. It’s in times like these that we’re more thankful than ever to be Gamecocks, among the toughest and most resilient beings there are, known for our unbreakable spirit and unmatched courage.
Lean on each other in the days to come. Ask for help. Be helpful. Together, we’ll get through this.
On a less heavy note, this creative campus photo invites prospective students to “Picture yourself here.” This is the kind of energy that I admire from an institutional account, as it welcomes students to join the community and feel welcome regardless of who they are or where they’re from.