Last week, the TAP Team headed to Universities UK HQ in Tavistock Square, for their 'Making an Impact: Marketing and Communications in Higher Education' conference. The day was FULL of incredible ideas from HE marketing pros, so here's a little round-up to recap the day.
After setting up the TAP stand, we headed to the first talk of the day: Online Influence in HE by Robert Perry, Head of Research at Pickle Jar Communications. Robert discussed reputation, engagement and influence in his talk where he made the point "our reputation is quite often not in our hands" and it is decided by others. He stated that "trust + engagement = influence", which he supported with really interesting data and mapping of Twitter communications, demonstrating the individual is often more influential online than an institution.
It's not about followers, it's about how you get involved in the conversation
On Friday, Robert posted his influence map of the conference, revealing which users had most impact online. The Access Platform were one of the lead contenders, with our Customer Success Manager, Georgina Munn, and our Social Media and Content Officer, Rebecca Longhurst, also featuring!
Next up was a conversation with Sian Griffiths, the Education Editor for the Sunday Times. She gave a lot of advice for Press Officers working in HE, and highlighted the importance of having the right attitude when a journalist rings you. Sian also stressed having 'out of hours' contact details on your institution's website is vital for journalists who write for weekend publications.
You need to be available 24/7 nowadays with the news cycle
The discussion of unconditional offers was also raised, which prompted an interesting debate about whether universities should scrap them altogether because of the impact they have on A Level results.
After a quick update on the MadeAtUni public impact campaign Universities UK are coordinating, there was a brief break to network and top up your cuppa before the morning's Breakout Sessions began.
This year, our Co-Founder Nik Higgins, and Social Media and Content Officer Rebecca Longhurst, lead a session about using Instagram to recruit potential students to your institution. They discussed new research we've conducted into Instagram comments of HE institutions and the quality of the replies potential students are receiving. If you'd like a copy of our research paper, please let us know on Twitter or LinkedIn! We've also published a blog post with all the questions we didn't get time to answer at the end of our session, which you can read here.
‘ Don’t stop the conversation at publish’ - Getting loads of inspiration from @becca_longhurst & Nik Higgins from @TAPlatform on engaging students in meaningful two way conversations on social #UUKComms pic.twitter.com/IQXLxbm29C— Tasha Quinn (@tashaquinn19) November 8, 2018
Student content is more trusted by other students than official university comms, says @becca_longhurst of @TAPlatform. Glad to hear that echoing what I said about trust this morning... #UUKComms pic.twitter.com/1N9uen7yHc— Robert Perry is often called Pez (@pez_sez) November 8, 2018
Great questions coming through @TAPlatform’s slido following our session on #instagram— Georgina Munn (@georgie_munn) November 8, 2018
1️⃣What happens if negative comments are posted?
2️⃣How can #universities get students to engage with their hashtag?
3️⃣How can you differentiate yourself from other institutions? #UUKComms pic.twitter.com/MpkZfav179
Next stop: lunch and networking! We really enjoyed meeting and chatting to some pros working in Higher Education (we also enjoyed the quiche but that's another matter).
We then went to IE's Ollie Leggett's 'University Rebrands: maximising the impact; minimising the backlash' Breakout Session, where he covered HE rebrands that lead to petitions, and gave five reasons NOT to rebrand your institution. They were:
- To take the heat off the VC
- To stand for something more than geographic location
- To embrace digital
- Fancy changing the name
- To look more modern
The danger of rebranding is that it's associated with spend
One last network and refreshment break before the final two talks. The first, by Polly Bridgman from University of Suffolk, about 'Making an impact in spite of the challenges'. Polly spoke about the range of challenges you may encounter when working in Higher Education such as having a small team, budget and conflicting priorities, as well as more external factors like league tables, OFS and TEF. She gave a wide range of tips for how your institution can make an impact despite these challenges, including:
- Have a strong brand be bold
- Make students feel like individuals
- Have a vision and mission everyone's passionate about
- Be authentic
- Show rather than tell by being innovative
And to round things off, Emma Gilmartin, Head of Social Media, and Tasha Quinn, Social and Digital Media Officer, at the University of Glasgow, showed the value and impact social media can have in Higher Education. They gave incredible examples of how they make research stories accessible through Instagram stories, in addition to emphasising the importance of leaving space for reactive content in your social media strategy. Something unique about University of Glasgow, is the presence of their Senior Management team on socials. Their Vice-Chancellor, Anton Muscatelli, recently spoke to The Native, where he detailed his experience with Twitter and how the account came to be. Emma described Anton's account as "the perfect blend of professional and personal", further supporting the idea that more HE leaders should have a presence on socials.
People love that we are tapping into the community on campus
What a day! There were so many insightful talks by members of the HE community that have filled our heads with ideas and we really enjoyed meeting and chatting to new people. If you'd like to read tweets from the day, you can check out #UUKComms and if you're sad the day is over and you want to do some more mingling and networking, come to our 'Drinks on TAP' event on 6th December! You can reserve your place here.