Since 2013, universities have had the opportunity to brand themselves and connect with key constituents (including prospective students) through LinkedIn University Pages. These special profiles allow universities to post status updates, showcase the career paths of their alumni, highlight notable alumni, and feature official university groups. Schools can even share targeted status updates to niche populations (i.e. senior-level alumni working in the medical industry in Seattle).
Surprisingly, in doing research for this post, I found that a number of schools fail to capitalize on their LinkedIn real estate. Many have barren pages and unmoderated comment sections, only using the the page to post links to press releases or sharing updates just once a month. Why is this the case? I think schools may be uncertain where to place LinkedIn within the greater social media ecosystem… so they pay less attention to it altogether. To that, I would argue that higher-ed institutions can’t afford to ignore this popular networking platform. With thousands of their constituents on LinkedIn, universities without active profiles are missing out on the opportunity to represent their institution online and connect with their most professionally driven students and alumni.
Need some inspiration to bolster your school’s University Page? Here are six institutions that are doing a good job of putting out consistent, dynamic content and connecting with their audiences on LinkedIn:
Lehigh’s strength lies in its consistent updates (several per week), which include everything from campus event notices, to media mentions, to alumni career highlights. What really makes Lehigh stand out from the pack, however, is the fact that the school actually responds to some of the messages on its page. For instance, an alum recently posted a positive recommendation of the school, to which Lehigh responded: “So great to hear that, Rafael! Congratulations on turning your hard work into a career path.” A simple gesture like this can prompt other community members to share their experiences as well.
Taking advantage of the “social” aspect of social media, North Carolina State poses interactive questions instead of simply sharing content. In one post, the school asked followers, “What’s the first place you would tell friends to visit in Raleigh?” Questions can garner a lot of interaction from a cross-section of constituents (alumni, current students, prospective students, local community members, etc.). It’s surprising that more schools do not see University Pages as an opportunity to spark dialogue among different constituent groups.
Just as Marquette does across all its social accounts, the university shares friendly, human content on LinkedIn. The school recently posted an excerpt from its Class Notes page, highlighting the recent birth of an alumna’s child and encouraging other alumni to share their milestones too. Marquette’s content seems to lean towards “general interest,” as opposed to the professional bent that some schools adopt on LinkedIn.
Instead of linking to stale press releases, Penn State does a great job of sharing multimedia content directly on its University Page. For example, the school recently posted a photo of Penn State alumna and Good Morning America co-anchor Lara Spencer sporting a shirt from her alma mater. With more than 295,000 alumni on LinkedIn and roughly 4,400 “interested in attending,” Penn State does an admirable job of delivering engaging content to a broad audience.
With a captive audience of 230,000+ alumni on LinkedIn, this school leverages its University Page to amplify the reach of its media mentions. Instead of posting university press releases, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign links to articles that showcase its students, alumni, and faculty—for example, in Chicago Magazine, Entrepreneur.com, and USA TODAY. The content is diverse and largely geared towards professionals (“tips for entrepreneurs,” “why cold-calling remains smart,” etc.).
Similar to UI Urbana-Champaign, UT Austin shares salient professional-oriented items involving its faculty, staff, students, and alumni. One recent post links to a Fast Company article penned by a UT professor called “The Five Types of Mentors You Need.” In addition to these career-type articles, the university populates its page with campus photos and other general announcements that evoke school pride.
What is your school’s strategy for its University Page on LinkedIn? How does your LinkedIn content align with the rest of your school’s social media platforms? Share your input in the comments below!
Craving more social media expertise from Dan? Read his last post, “3 Tips for Higher-Ed Social Media Teams on a Budget”!
Dan Klamm is Director of Young Alumni Engagement for the NYC office of his alma mater, Syracuse University. He has six years of experience across higher education career services, alumni relations, and marketing. Feel free to connect with Dan on Twitter and LinkedIn.