Insight

Social media panel 2018: Eric Stoller

Estimated read time: 6 minutes

We couldn’t pull together a panel of education thought leaders and not include Eric Stoller. Quite simply, he is the man. He’ll make you laugh, make you think and make you better at what you do. As such, we’re really rather glad to share his wisdom with you.

When it comes to social media, how do you think education providers did in 2017? Were there any campaigns or accounts that really caught your eye?

It was definitely a great year for UK higher education + social media. #WeAreInternational from the University of Sheffield and #TeamUofG from the University of Glasgow were some of the best campaigns from this year. Also, I’m a huge fan of the Instagram accounts from Cambridge University and The Open University.

What do you think was the biggest challenge for those institutions and their social media usage last year?

I think the challenge is always figuring out a way to do more with less.  And, social media is an ever-evolving space…university communicators have to be agile and open to trying new ways of engaging with students via digital channels.

Do you expect that challenge to persist this year, or will it be something different?

Possibly. However, as the sector becomes more competitive in terms of enrolment and reputation, institutions will likely increase funding for digital engagement initiatives.

Social media is increasingly become a pay-to-play space…are we now at the point where institutions have to stop making excuses for not having a budget or can organic posts still be effective?

You have to have both. Paid and organic as a mix is the way to go.

As ever, there has plenty of talk recently about Facebook being dead – do you think that’s true?

If Facebook is dead, then it is a zombie…technically not alive, but still coming after you. Seriously though, Facebook has a massive user base and it’s foolish to ignore its dominance. It might not be the coolest place around, but it still has an enormous amount of reach and impact.

And what about Snapchat? Does it still look healthy to you or has Instagram’ insistence of copying all their key features dealt Snapchat a fatal blow? Is it space that is worth institutions spending time on?

Snapchat may turn things around. They’ve had to be one step ahead of the “copycats” at Instagram/Facebook. Time will tell whether or not it’s worth the effort to engage in storytelling via two platforms with similar features.

What do you think of Stories and Live video? Good, bad or ugly?

Stories are great. They require a lot of effort and intentionality. The same goes for Live video. Both of these forms of communication require a new level of sophistication and execution. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you should do the same. Take time to plan, buy some new kit, and focus on what you’re trying to achieve with your digital engagement toolkit.

Should education providers be thinking about podcasting in 2018?

Yes. Audio still has a place in 2018. Plus, syndication of content is always a smart play. There are a lot of podcasts. There are only a handful of great podcasts. It takes a lot of work to create something that’s captivating to an audience. How does a podcast add value to your comms mix?

To finish, time to make a couple of predictions for the new year. First, what will be the hot social network for education providers in 2018?

Great question. Who knows?! Maybe it will be WhatsApp. They’ll add a ton of new features and grab audience share away from some of the other big players in the space…maybe.

Second, which social network might they be able to drop in the year ahead, if any?

I think it’s prudent to drop the social networks that you don’t have time or expertise to maintain at an optimal level. If you can’t do Snapchat well, don’t do it. The same goes for YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.

And finally, can you pick one word or phrase that you think will define how education providers will use social media in 2018?

Storytelling

You can follow Eric on Twitter, find him on LinkedIn and read his blogs for Inside Higher Education. Not only, you can (and should) work with him too.

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