Five Proven Ways Social Media Breaks Silos in Higher Education

March 16, 2017

Is your university suffering from a severe case of silo-itis? Symptoms are easy to spot: a distinct lack of cooperation; internal competition for both resources and the limelight; and an inability to share information.  While silos aren’t life-threatening, they can create tangible blocks to your school’s ability to innovate and leverage valuable resources.

The good news is that a cure may be as close as your favorite professional network. At LinkedIn we have five proven ways to help break down silos and ramp up collaboration all by just getting a little more social.

You Have More in Common than You Think

Before we get into our five silo-busting strategies, it’s helpful to remember that higher education professionals share much in common. According to a recent survey of business schools conducted by CarringtonCrisp, an international higher education marketing and research firm, many university staff already are active on social media. Career services professionals topped the list at 98%, followed by admissions professionals at 71%.

Social media platforms offer many student-facing departments a way to stay connected with their stakeholders. Marketing and Admissions can use social media to encourage conversations with prospective students while faculty and Career Services can tap into social media to prepare future graduates for their careers. Alumni Relations and fundraisers leverage social media to track successful graduates and help keep strong ties with their alma mater. Alumni Relations also can connect successful alumni with potential students creating a virtuous cycle of success for universities. As a result, social platforms like LinkedIn can unify a student’s journey from initial inquiry to graduation and beyond.

So how can you encourage more collaboration and synergy through social media? Try these five proven, actionable strategies.

Strategy 1: Rally Around a Common Cause

Sometimes it’s easy to forget you are all playing for the same team – especially during budget season. One way to remind colleagues of this fact is identifying a common, unifying message based on your university’s unique value proposition. Ask what matters most to your stakeholders and how is your college meeting those needs? Once you find that theme each department can integrate it into their specific audience messaging. In the case of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, their value – a high quality institution with a small, intimate setting – was amplified in social media through their student, faculty, and alumni testimonials. This content was organized via hashtags including #GoizuetaKudos (for alumni) and #GoizuetaKnows (for faculty research) which stakeholders then began to use without any prompting from the school.

Strategy 2: Build an Army of Advocates

Once you have successfully rallied around a common cause, it’s time to create a culture where everyone feels empowered to create – and share – content. Particularly in higher education, where staff resources are limited, it’s important to look outside your immediate team for content creators. Conduct a content audit and see whom among your colleagues, such as faculty and career services professionals, are already publishing material. Work together to create an editorial calendar and help repurpose and amplify each other’s work to your different audiences. And don’t forget staff from other, non-student facing departments. Download LinkedIn’s Content Marketing Toolkit for helpful templates for a content audit and editorial calendars.

Strategy 3: Connect Prospects to Alumni

Did you know if prospects connect with just nine students, 93% are more likely to enroll? (TargetX). That kind of social proof is invaluable, and can only grow and thrive if departments work together to pair successful graduates with incoming student applicants. Many Career Services professionals already know the power behind social solutions such as LinkedIn’s Alumni Tool which lets you find graduates based on where they live, what companies employ them, and what industries they work in. Now it’s time for other departments – including Admissions – to tap into those effective insights to help move qualified applicants along in their decision-making process.

Strategy 4: Market Your Career Services

Another great way to partner with Career Services is to promote their professional development tools. Now, more than ever, prospective students want to know how a university will help them find their ideal job after graduation, change careers, or increase their salary. Many Career Services teams have put together job seeker tool kits and other resources that Marketing and Admissions can promote on social media as proof points.

Strategy 5: Promote Your School Leaders

LinkedIn is home to more than 7 million C-level executives and vice presidents publishing thought leadership and company news to an engaged online community.

If your university president or dean isn’t on LinkedIn, you may be missing a powerful opportunity to share your universal messages and build strategic relationships. By enlisting your leaders to be more active on social, they give your school authentic voices and human faces while building your institution’s reputation in your areas of expertise.

Want to learn more about breaking down silos? Watch our webcast What’s New with LinkedIn for Higher Ed now.