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The Role of Social Media in Higher Education – 5 Best Practices for Engagement

Today’s students have grown up as digital natives, surrounded by technology and accustomed to the experience it provides. It should come as no surprise therefore, to hear that higher education institutions are looking to offer a digital-first approach to improve student engagement and experience. The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the need for digital transformation even further, and its effects are unlikely to abruptly end. 

Social media in education is at the core of this movement. Student and schools alike find themselves more active than ever on social media. According to a recent study, 97% of students use social media, with university students being the most active of all. To meet these students online, 98% of schools are now using social media, according to Hootsuite. Most often, social media for colleges and universities is used as a marketing tool to attract new students. While this can be a highly effective enrolment strategy, it misses a major opportunity to engage with current students, improve student engagement, and ultimately, reduce drop-out rates. 

In this blog, we’ll look at the best practices for using social media as a student support channel in higher education. And answer the question of how can social media be used in education. If you want a more in-depth look into this topic with top tips and tools you can use to achieve improved student experiences and engagement, take a look at our new eBook.

Connecting with Students on Social Meida

Connecting with Students on Social Meida

Learn how your institution can become a truly student-first institution with social media support. Begin your digital transformation journey today! 

Get eBook now
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Quick Responses

While social media platforms evolved as communication tools for friends, families, and social groups, they’ve now grown much larger. With brands and institutions now finding a home on social media, students expect the same response time from these large entities that they would receive from friends. 

report by influencer and author Jay Baer found that 32% of consumers expect a response on social media channels within 30 minutes. 57% of consumers even expected the same response time at night and on weekends as during standard business hours. With responses on social media available to the public, social media channels are an opportunity for schools to develop a brand image around the student experience. 

Digital Omnichannel Support

One of the greatest challenges for schools in providing social media student support is juggling the many platforms available. Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter are just one place that students can seek support. As new platforms gain popularity, supporting them all can spread resources thin and risk incoming requests falling through the cracks. 

Thankfully, there are unified platforms providing omnichannel support for these social media accounts in one place. Platforms like Comm100’s omnichannel support connect all these technologies under a single console for the benefit of both students and support agents. 

For students, omnichannel platforms provide responsive support that is available to them wherever they are and however they want to connect. For support agents, omnichannel support connects these services in a single place to improve workflow and provide student insights that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. 

Establishing Service Standards

Omnichannel platforms introduce features that schools can use to establish high service standards. With integrated ticketing, new social media requests can be flagged for priority and responded to appropriately. When a student reaches out across multiple channels, those tickets are grouped to ensure agents see the full picture and can make a unified response without repeating work. 

Introducing ticketing also allows institutions to establish service level agreements (SLAs) for response times. With response expectations different across various social platforms, SLAs can be customized by assignment group and platform to ensure that response times match student expectations. 

Channel Switching

A major reason for the shift to social media for support has been its accessibility over traditional support channels like phone. Unlike phone support that can require calls to be passed from one agent to another, students expect a seamless customer experience on digital channels, which can be facilitated through unified platforms. Social media student support often requires moving conversations from a public feed to direct messages, so channel switching becomes a delicate and important aspect of an effective social strategy. 

Through Comm100’s omnichannel functionality, support agents can follow conversations from one platform to another. Students benefit from a seamless transition from public feed to direct messages, or even new platforms, as they won’t need to repeat themselves to be understood. 

Chatbot Integration

While live agent responses are the best way to connect with students, it’s not always possible to provide live chat support outside of regular business hours. A chatbot can fill in the gaps in your support, providing 24/7 support. Besides handling common questions, social chatbots can help students book appointments, pay invoices, and more. This immediate response can significantly improve student engagement and remedy many concerns before they become a public grievance on social media. 

Comm100 uses a unified AI chatbot, meaning that the chatbot deployed on social media can also be integrated for live chat responses on your website or in-app. With a single chatbot responding across platforms, the chatbot has more opportunity to “learn” which responses are best and provide the best possible experience for your students. 

Consistent Messaging

On social media, the public nature of communications means that it’s especially important to maintain branding in interactions. Research from Sprout Social found that 41% of customers will share a bad social media experience with their network. To help keep brand voice consistent, planning ahead and using some additional tools becomes important. 

To ensure consistent messaging, a knowledge base can be developed and integrated in the chat console for support agents to draw from for quick answers and information that can easily provided to students. Canned messages can be used in much the same way, saving agents the trouble of retyping common resolutions. For oversight of these communications, real-time monitoring allows for senior agents and management to keep an eye on various live chats to ensure the voice and message are consistent. 

Moving Forward

With higher education institutions embracing digital transformation, the importance and the impact of social media on higher education can no longer be overlooked. Younger generations have grown up with the expectation of immediate gratification, and students expect their school to be equally responsive. 

As you continue your journey toward digital transformation, the next step is learning more about integrating social channels into your digital support strategy. For a more in-depth look at navigating the complexity of social media student support, we’ve put together an eBook for higher education institutions. You can download below:

Connecting with Students on Social Media

Connecting with Students on Social Media

Learn how your institution can become a truly student-first institution with social media support. Begin your digital transformation journey today! 

Download free eBook!
Comm100 eBook

About Kate Rogerson

Kate is the Content Marketing Specialist at Comm100. She has extensive experience in content creation for technology companies across the world, including the UK, Australia and Canada. She specializes in B2B messaging, branding and soccer trivia.