We spoke with three digital communications professionals from across the sector to find out how they approach building an online community on the Hear It Podcast. This is what we found.
A consistent theme across all three conversations was the importance of amplifying voices across your community. To be inclusive demands more than just asking for all voices to speak up, it requires a concerted effort to engage groups within your student community.
Data to underpin your approach is something that digital marketing has at its fingertips but talking with your student communities, existing and prospective is important. But it’s not just students within a campus community – staff play a significant part of the online community.
Tone of voice and restrictive style guides aren’t always flexible when it comes to crafting a message infrastructure across different social media channels. As Cat Prill, Marketing Coordinator at Lancaster University told us;
“Personifying your tone of voice as a personality is a really nice way of building your voice to adapt to different channels.”
It’s important to know where to focus your resources and when to cut channels when it no longer serves your community. As Emma Gilmartin, Head of Social Media and Student Communications at the University of Glasgow told us;
“If resources are an issue, it’s far better to do two channels really well than five channels in a mediocre way.”
Underpinning your approach with data helps to understand how different approaches are working with all parts of your community, which is key when wanting to reach diverse audiences. As Azeem Ahmed, Digital Marketing Manager at Staffordshire University told us;
“We can target our messaging and reach to get to the audience we want to and speak with them in the right way, get them to campus and help them to apply.”
Every type of community needs to be spoken to and brands should avoid tokenism and virtue signallingAzeem Ahmed, Digital Marketing Manager at Staffordshire University
Get voices involved at the ideation stage rather than the execution stageAzeem Ahmed, Digital Marketing Manager at Staffordshire University
Listen to Azeem speak on the Hear It Podcast here
If you want to engage students, you have to be on the channels where they are. With TikTok, we had to have a strategy behind it. You don’t want to be the mum/dad dancer on there and we wanted to be student led.Emma Gilmartin, Head of Social Media and Student Communications at the University of Glasgow
People make Team UofG so talking with our community is key to showing all aspects of the community on campusEmma Gilmartin, Head of Social Media and Student Communications at the University of Glasgow
You can listen to Emma on the Hear It Podcast here
It’s non-negotiable to be empowering voices that should be heard. It’s a privilege to support the people who make us who we are as a community.Cat Prill, Marketing Coordinator at Lancaster University
As your voice develops as an institution you develop an architecture of messaging that naturally then fits to different platforms and content. Consistency helps build your community and its authenticity.Cat Prill, Marketing Coordinator at Lancaster University
You can listen to Cat on the Hear It Podcast here