Creating clearing campaigns that people love, with Aston University’s Jord Muckley

It’s almost that time of year again, that one day where the entire HE sector lets its hair down and has a bit of fun.

That time of year, of course, is clearing.

Every year, as the stigma around clearing fades away more and more Universities up their game and come up with some really great stuff. In 2017, one of the stand-out campaigns was the one ran by Aston University. Their personalised Snapchat geofilters caught most of the headlines, but the welcoming tone of their #HelloAstonUni campaign was a joy, as was their savvy use of their team of digital ambassadors to create great content and play the roles of community managers.

In this episode, I’m joined by Aston’s social media lead Jord Muckley, who helped make that campaign happen and is something of a proud dad to the team of digital ambassadors. We sat down recently to talk all things clearing; how it worked for Aston in 2017, where it might go from here and why it’s fast-becoming the equivalent of transfer deadline day for students.

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Show notes

Jord Muckely is the social media lead at Aston University and looks after the social media team, digital ambassadors and lots of multimedia content. You can follow him on Twitter.

When Jord joined Aston, their social media was a little bland – it was done because it meet the needs of the corporate partners of the university, rather than having student recruitment at its heart. This was backed up by the result of survey the University ran with their current students and some prospective students too.

So, they started again!

In the year or so since, they’ve done some pretty great stuff – including a version of Come Dine With Me with their own students!

I’m always getting emails, DMs and tweets bouncing ideas around – just like I do with my peers. It’s one of the perks of being part of the #hesm network

Aston’s #HelloAstonUni campaign in 2017 was big and it essentially saw everything else put on hold while it was being developed. It was also the first time Aston really used their team of digital ambassadors.

Where the campaign was a success was that it was more a broad, welcoming campaign, rather than a hard sell of the University. It was about making it a holistic campaign.

The hashtag #HelloAstonUni was a hug in a hashtag.

A lot of the inspiration for the campaign came from Air BnB’s welcoming campaign in 2017. As it happens, Aston’s students like that their campus has a community feel to it, which they were able to work into the campaign too.

We wanted to bring campus to our new students on results day, rather than wait for to actually get here.

The part of the campaign most people will have seen from Aston’s campaign is probably the personalised Snapchat geofilters, which were set up around the houses of students who were coming to Aston and went live on results day. All of the filters were set up with the student’s name on and the campaign graphic – the students received a note in the post flagging the filter and the hashtag for them and encouraging them to get involved.

The surprise element was a big part of the campaign – after all, who doesn’t enjoy a nice surprise? And it helps you stick in people’s minds.

This time around, Aston isn’t necessarily trying to beat what they did last year, but still make it excellent.

The part I really enjoyed was having our student ambassadors as our community managers – they were the faces and voices of our campaign.

The other pillar of Aston’s success on social has to be their team of digital ambassadors – which Jord blogged about for The Native earlier this year.

The team is made up of a mix of disciplines, schools, races and beliefs – it’s about having the right blend of talented people to create brilliant content. But, the University also wanted to create an environment where students could come and learn digital skills.

Some of the content they’ve produced…brands would pay thousands of pounds for it!

The fact that the team is payed is also really important – ethically, it is the right thing to do, but it also gives the role real responsibility.

As for clearing in 2018, Jord sees it as transfer deadline day for students and something he really looks forward to. However, it does think clearing still has a stigma attached to it – depending on who the person is and how they do in their exams.

The universities that do well are the ones that fully embrace it for what it is and run with it.

This year, Jord thinks we’ll see a lot more universities that haven’t really ‘done’ clearing fully before will come to the market and be more active.

Jord’s top three tips for creating a clearing campaign that people love

Be brave – do something that perhaps isn’t necessarily associated with your university. It’s your chance to go off-brand.

Be authentic – get your students involved in everything you can.

Go with your gut


5 apps on your phone you use the most

Twitter (for arguing), Instagram (for being nosey), Tasty (for when hanger strikes), Air BnB (for getting holiday envy) and Glitché (for trying to be edgy on Instagram).

4 people you’d like to invite round for dinner

Kylie Minogue, John Waters, Marsha P Johnson and my granddad.

3 words to describe what it’s like working for Aston University

Chaotic, inspiring and coffee-fuelled.

2 places/events in the world you’d really love to visit but haven’t been able to yet

San Francisco and Mardis Gras in Sydney.

1 social media platform you love more than any of the others


Find out more

Jord Muckely is the social media lead at Aston University and looks after the social media team, digital ambassadors and lots of multimedia content. You can follow him on Twitter.

Thanks to #ASDIE18

The Native Podcast is brought to you by ASDIE, the Annual Summit for Digital Innovation in Education, which takes place in London on Thursday 19 July. Book your ticket now, and use the code POD10 to get a 10% discount!


The Native Podcast is hosted and produced by Dave Musson, our editor-in-chief.

Our music is by Broke For Free and is used under Creative Commons.

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