Great Social Media Idea: Having Your Reach and Enhancing Your Brand Too

One of the big challenges we face in higher ed social media marketing is the balancing act between promoting our university and sharing content that people actually care about and want to see in their timelines. I follow hundreds of colleges on social media, and I've seen my fair share of them that go too far in either direction - some endlessly promote promote promote and get zero engagement, and others post nothing but memes or caption contests and don't end up enhancing their brand in any meaningful or significant way.

I wrestle with this often. My normal justification for doing something "frivolous" is that there is real value in making your school appear cool and fun - something I've written about at length. And, of course, Facebook's ruthless new algorithms for reach force us into this, whether we want to or not. As Mark Zuckerberg just said a week ago: "Post content your customers want to see... We optimize the newsfeed to create the best experience for our users, not to help businesses reach as many people as possible."

But I do get pushback on it from time to time, which I completely understand. My job isn't to post cat videos and get people to like the stuff I post. It's to advance the brand of the university. Those two things aren't always mutually exclusive, but sometimes - alas - they are.

With all of this in mind, take a look at the "Beaver Nation" campaign created by Oregon State University. They are creating a series of profiles and videos of alumni/students/faculty who are impacting all the regions of my fair home state. But they aren't just doing the typical rich alum who gives a lot of money or superstar student who volunteers a bunch. Instead, they are selecting people with really neat stories... the type of stories that people might see on Facebook and then share with their friends. Stories like this one:

Brilliant, right? 

We all know that animals rule the web, so highlighting someone who does work to rescue and heal animals is an absolute internet win. 

It's intentionality like this that defines what "content marketing" really is - something that both enhances your brand while simultaneously being something that people actually want to spend time with. And try as you might, you can't fake it... you need to put in the time to identify the right stories and craft them in such a way that they achieve both ends of the spectrum.

This camaign from OSU is the real deal... spend some time with it!

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