SMCE: Intro Article

Social Media Centers of Excellence

Welcome to Social Media Centers of Excellence, a new series in which we explore social channels you may think you understand – as well as those you don’t – through audiences’ viewpoints.

Approaching an important communication channel from the audience perspective may seem like an obvious strategy, but years of turnover and one-way social media strategies have left many higher education institutions without real data on the behavior of the students they’re targeting. Sure, you’re responding to comments on social posts and cringing or applauding at reviews left in plain sight on owned social stations, but you probably aren’t watching recent conversations about your school on YouTube, and TikTok may seem like a distant planet that someone will visit for you. This arm’s length approach means you are missing the real behavior of your target audiences (be they students, parents, prospectives, alumni, stakeholders, etc.) in a way that a survey is certainly not going to illuminate.

Let us build you a window to shed some light on this issue, starting with three blogs that dive deep into three of the biggest platforms for students right now:

  • YouTube: A channel you likely think you understand. But do you know how students are using it? (Hint: It’s changed in recent years.)
  • Instagram: A channel you not only understand but post to regularly. But are you listening?
  • TikTok: A channel you have no idea how your institution should jump into. How can listening help give you the confidence to dive in?

Who am I to hold this lantern? My name is Dean Browell, and I’m one of the members of AccessU’s faculty – we are longtime higher education experts that help AccessU become stronger partners in this space, further elevating their high caliber of experience. I have a PhD in higher education leadership with a research focus in applying digital ethnography (think Jane Goodall but for online behavior) and a predilection for generational differences. I’ll be your guide for this little journey, and I’ll pull in data from my market research company Feedback to help make our case. I’ll also bring in AccessU’s experience and the faculty’s expertise to help tell the story of how you can take better advantage of engagement – such as data and outreach – on a few important social channels.

We’re excited to have you on this walk; the caverns of social media don’t have to be scary. Grab a torch!

About the Author

Dr. Dean Browell

Dr. Dean Browell is co-founder and head of research for Richmond, Virginia’s Feedback, a social media research firm. He also teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses for Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business and is a board member and instructor for University of Richmond’s Institute on Philanthropy. Before these engagements,...

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