Goals: Create a comprehensive digital engagement strategy and structure with governance, guidelines, best practices and training for owned social media along with a deliverable plan and execution for digital advertising to increase enrollment.
As social media continues to grow as a key channel for engagement, recruitment and storytelling, the University of Mary decided to invest in coordinating its efforts for both owned and paid efforts by partnering with Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL), a leading higher education consulting firm. Working as an Associate Consultant for RNL, the project spanned over a year – conducting baseline research and focus groups, developing infrastructure and best practices to reflect the institution and its Benedictine values, creating and deploying digital ads for enrollment management and hosting an on-campus training to bring efforts in-house long-term.
Owned Social Channels
After a comprehensive review of all discoverable Mary social media properties, both official and rogue, there were numerous recommendations for the Mary team to implement to immediately strengthen the brand’s social presence.
- Align branding (text and visual)
- Build a content calendar
- Create an account directory
- Deploy best practices for account management
- Develop policies and governance structure
After solidifying the foundation on the main brand social channels, the strategy pivoted to enhancing content and engagement – online among followers and offline among Mary account managers.
- Leverage and curate user-generated content: #LifeAtMary
- Host regular workshops for all social media professionals
- Create opportunities for strategic 1:1 interactions with followers
- Build a campus-wide content calendar and coordination plan
The final piece of a sustainable, scalable social strategy for Mary was governance. While those managing accounts, creating content and building the audience may change, the Mary brand needs to remain consistent.
- Develop a structure for requesting new accounts, launching new platforms and managing a crisis
- Create, approve (via senior leadership) and launch the Mary Social Media Policy
- Host interactive social media workshops for account managers
TARGETED DIGITAL ADS
In parallel to building out content, engagement and governance for owned channels, Mary had immediate goals to hit enrollment targets for the institution as a whole as well as select academic program offerings. RNL developed a robust digital ad strategy, spanning Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network. The team leveraged micro-targeted ads with customized audiences that integrated across multiple digital marketing initiatives and customized landing pages to align with the ad’s call to action. By creating a comprehensive digital strategy that spanned social media and banner ads, search engine marketing, e-mail marketing and integration of owned digital properties, Mary surpassed its enrollment goals – to the point that some digital campaigns did not need to run their full length and came in under budget.