We’re big fans of Newcastle University’s social media content here – lots of experimenting and a real student focus too. As such, it makes us very happy to have Matt Horne, their Digital Marketing and Social Media Manager, join us as part of our social media panel. Strap in – learning imminent!
What social media channels worked best for you in 2017?
It varied depending on the goal. If you’re talking organic then Instagram Stories was a great success while Snapchat and Twitter were consistent performers. We also saw LinkedIn really come in to its own as a source of referral traffic when they finally sorted out the company v university pages mess.
And which channels flopped for you last year?
I wouldn’t say there were any flops. Facebook‘s organic reach was a struggle at times, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a page that didn’t see their reach throttled. But Facebook Live helped counter-act that and, as an advertising platform, Facebook (and it’s associated channels) is second to none.
What was the biggest challenge for your organisation’s social media channels in 2017?
Facebook’s organic reach was a challenge as things changed so quickly in 2017. One minute one tactic worked, the next it was back to square one. The demand for social advertising has also been a challenge as it is very much a growth area. Managing the multitude of internal demands in a strategic way while avoiding over saturation and competing for the same audiences is now one of our top challenges.
Do you expect that challenge to persist this year? Or do you think it will be something different?
Oh it’ll remain a challenge as demand is only going to increase.
Thinking specifically about paid social media, how much of this to you expect do in 2018? Will this be more, less or the same as in recent years?
See above – it’ll be more.
As ever, there has plenty of talk recently about Facebook being dead – how important is Facebook for your organisation? Is it dead among your audiences?
It’s the most important paid social channel, when you include the associated networks like Instagram Stories and audience network. Chances are WhatsApp ads will come online this year so that’ll be a great help for international advertising too. There’s still a lot to be done organically too. Younger audiences may not be that interested in Facebook’s Newsfeed but for current students, alumni, the general public and postgraduates it’s still a driving force. There’s also Facebook Messenger that’s going to become even more important as a customer service tool, and possibly even marketing with the use of intelligent and well connected bots.
What about Snapchat? For you, is it a growth channel or has its impact lessened since Instagram copied all of its key features?
It’s still a big channel for 16-24 year old targeting. Instagram Stories definitely had an impact and has become a force in its own right. But now Snapchat has opened up their ad platform it’s showing promise as a paid channel as well as organic. But everything hangs on their app redesign – it’ll be make or break for the youth demographic.
We’ve also seen a huge growth in Stories and Live video over the last 18 months or so – how much do you use these tools and what sort of impact have they had for you?
We use Stories nearly daily. They’ve been a great content tool for documenting events and campus life. They’re also useful for notice board style content and experimenting. With Instagram’s poll feature you can get some good feedback too. We can now test out ideas on Stories to see if it works well with the audience and whether it’s worth expanding in to other forms for the more traditional channels. Live is also great for event coverage and in the moment content. With the plans Facebook has to improve the control panel for live it’s going to allow even more creativity on a small budget but I don’t think it’ll replace pre-produced video just yet.
Is podcasting on your agenda at all for 2018? If so, what sort of show are you planning? If not, is there any reason why?
It’s something I’ve been thinking about. My background is in radio and I was podcasting back in the original boom of the mid 2000s on a personal capacity and continue to this day (called Trouble Talking, check it out). From a marketing perspective I’m not sure it’ll swing with our undergraduate target audience. But for research promotion and student voice I’ve had some ideas I’d love to try out – it’s just a case of finding the time and resource to do it well.
Which social channel do you think will be the most valuable for you in 2018?
It’ll vary depending on which audience we want to talk to. But on aggregate it’ll be owned by Facebook.
Are there any channels you use now that you think you won’t be using in 12 months’ time?
And finally, can you pick one word or phrase that you think will define how your organisation uses social media in 2018?