Social media panel 2018: Jim Tudor, The Future Index

Estimated read time: 6 minutes

If you’re a higher education marketer – or any youth marketer really – and you’re looking for some inspirational, brilliant examples of amazing campaigns, then you need to speak to Jim Tudor. The founder of trends consultancy The Future Index, he’s a regular on the conference circuit and a wonderful person to know. Even better, he’s part of our education thought leaders social media panel.

Ideas await…better get comfortable!

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?

On the whole education providers continue to get better. In some cases they are leading the way. I was impressed with the way that Aston University geofenced student houses on Results Day – a great example of how universities can be as innovative as any fashion brand out there. Deakin in Australia continue to stand out for their excellent platforms, but there’s been some great examples in the UK too – Glasgow for example. 

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

A big challenge has been bridging the gap between university staff and students. With most UK universities there continues to be a sense of disconnection, although many are working hard at getting it right. 

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

Yes, this will continue in 2018. But an even bigger challenge might be how to lead in a world that is increasingly under the radar, with ‘dark social’ messenger apps hosting so much of the buzz.

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?

Of course, organic posts can still be effective. But yes, it’s time to allocate some proper budgets to paid-for activity.

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

No, not at all. Facebook continues to be a key channel. It’s the biggest in the world after all. The 17+ crowd will use it for conversion/on boarding/welcome activity. The 15+ crowd are back on it in numbers, and wedded to the group chat functionality of Facebook Messenger. Watch the 13+ crowd though – they might head in different directions. 

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

Both Snapchat and Instagram are huge so they have to be worth spending time on. Not just for the sake of it. Find the right purpose and do it well. Or maybe it’s not worth it. Despite a convergence in functionality, you might be able to identify different optimum uses – Snapchat being more raw and ‘instant’, and Instagram still retaining a little more consideration and polish.

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

All beautiful. 

Should education providers be thinking about podcasting in 2018?

Audio is a full of potential and universities haven’t even scratched the surface. Whilst podcasting should always be a consideration, we’ll be looking at instant, on-demand audio experiences in lots of guises. For instance, 3D audio offers its own cost-effective take on virtual reality, and can sit neatly within a social media post.

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?

Instagram is still massively underused, despite its popularity with target audiences – so I’d expect a little more heat here. Also, I’d expect more universities to embrace personalised, messenger opportunities. WhatsApp is often singled out by students as a viable channel for them and more institutions will embrace it. 

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

Drop whatever doesn’t fit with a fine-tuned content strategy.

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

Mixed-bag. (Or is that two??)

You can follow Jim on Twitter and find him on LinkedIn. While you’re at it, learn more about The Future Index by checking out their website.

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