Twitter is No Longer Verified
Where Should HigherEd be Living on Social?
The slow and painful demise of Twitter has had implications for every industry. The verified accounts associated with celebrities, politicians, news sources, brands and official accounts of HigherEd institutions are all being phased out. Elon Musk has announced that legacy accounts will lose their blue checks. A demarkation that had signified that these were actually the people or organizations doing the Tweeting.
I mean, who among us hasn’t had a sense of exhilaration when their reply to the official Steak-Umm account got a ‘heart’ and a retweet from the official MoonPie account? But seriously, these accounts matter, and for #HigherEd pros and their communications, marketing and media offices … it’s time to consider where they may want to set up shop on social media. I’ve been tinkering with old and new social ecosystems, and have some thoughts and suggestions as you are considering where you and your campus need to live on Al Gore’s internet.
There are three environments that require a social media presence for institutions of Higher Education:
Engagement and Affinity: Athletics, student activities, traditions, commencement highlights… this is the ‘feel good’ area of the social media landscape. It’s where members of the community connect with all the things that make them feel like they belong to their campus.
Public Relations and Crisis Communication: A well managed crisis needs a space on social media. An official account is necessary to quell fears and to respond to misinformation. A key reason that a verified account is so damn important. When it comes to Public Relations, think about key announcements of commencement speakers, grant awards, and other big news.
Scholarship and Street Cred: Each campus has outstanding faculty, students and staff who are out there every day doing work that is a commentary on current events, politics, medical trends, etc. Having a place to feature this work goes beyond Public Relations, rather, it’s about keeping the campus in the narrative.
There are no perfect platforms, but there are platforms with potential, and these are my recommendations for your social media arsenal:
Oldie’s But Goodies
Instagram/Facebook: Insta gets you in front of students (and potential students) and Facebook is where GenX parents live. They are both owned by Meta and yes, Meta has their problems, but it’s pervasive and more people go to Facebook and Instagram than they go to websites to engage. So use them well and wisely. Instagram in particular has great opportunities for creating reels, live video and engaging content. Facebook is a cumbersome mess for business accounts, but … again … parents live there, so update often and be sure to have a solid moderator. Pro-Tip: speak on Facebook like you are speaking to parents and alumni. Use Instagram’s features including closed captions and music and trending sounds. Use both for advertising. The cost of ads on both platforms is very low and can be targeted extraordinarily well. Most Appropriate for: Engagement and Affinity. Public Relations and Crisis Communication.
LinkedIn: Students and Alums build their brands on LinkedIn and the institution’s LinkedIn presence should be a place that not only celebrates accomplishments of the institution but it is also a key space to recruit new employees. With the expansion of LinkedIn to live video, courses, certifications, badges and other incredibly engaging features, it is absolutely essential to use this as more than a place to post news and updates from the President. This is a space where alumni can connect virtually with faculty and programs. Most importantly use the analytics … this tells you who is using the space and how to make the most of it, especially when considering expanding the types of engagement. Most Appropriate for: Engagement and Affinity. Scholarship and Street Cred.
New to the Scene
Post.news: Created by the designer of Waze, Post.news is seeking to create a “social platform for real people, real news and civil conversations.” It is in beta but there are aspects that HigherEd will find incredibly valuable: posts of any length, micropayment structure for premium content, clean interface for connecting to other websites. The formatting and experience are clean and vibrant and they are taking verification very seriously - and verification is free. There is no limit to links on a post, and posts can be formatted to pull quotes, put text in italics and more. Campuses could create daily posts featuring campus news, scholarship and blogs from faculty and a weekly athletics round up. Truly, this is a great platform - and one of the best aspects is that the team is taking the feedback from users very seriously. Most Appropriate for: Public Relations and Crisis Communication, Scholarship and Street Cred.
Spoutible: If you are seeking a “Twitter like” environment, Spoutible (also in beta), created by the team at Bot Sentinel is worth your consideration. The space will look very similar to Twitter, without the toxic trolls. Like Post they take civility and identity very seriously. If you have a legacy verified account on Twitter, you can reach out to Spoutible to move it over to their platform. Like Post it is easy to share links to other platforms on Spoutible. Most Appropriate for: Engagement and Affinity. Public Relations and Crisis Communication
Harness the Hashtag. Be consistent with your use of hashtags, and don’t stray from your institutional hashtags across platforms.
Each platform should be used to maximize the features of the platform. In other words, do not post the same exact post on Spoutible that you would post on LinkedIn. Sure, you can broaden your audience on a topic, but be conscious of the platform’s nuances.
Be authentic - regardless of the platform. Too many accounts sound like AI generation … don’t let that happen. And do not be afraid to have fun on social.
You may be asking why not TikTok? I am wary of committing to TikTok during this time of flux. There is bipartisan support for real action against TikTok and already there are some states where TikTok is not permitted on state issued smartphones and devices. It is for this reason that I didn’t include TikTok in this rundown of recommendations.
Final consideration - be sure that you have a clear policy about where you will live on social media. In December of 2022, Boston University’s School of Public Health made it public that they would no longer be using Twitter. This took a great deal of soul searching, and the Dean’s decision to suspend the use of his personal account as well as the BUSPH official account are grounded in a desire to be associated with a place that recognizes the importance of truth. Twitter itself has become a disinformation firestorm. It has also become a haven for hate and trolls. HigherEd already has a public relations and trust problem. Why compound it by being in a place that neither appreciates or creates an environment where truth and curiosity prevail?
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