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A Spook-tacular MBA Social Media Campaign

higher ed social media

If you’ve strolled into a Hallmark store lately, you can’t help but notice that Halloween is in the air – even if it is unseasonably warm in some parts of the country like it is here today in Baltimore.

It takes only a few steps in the iconic greeting card shop to be confronted by spooky displays although the Floppy Count Snoopula actually looks more cuddly than frightening. Still, the mysterious “Fortune-Telling Magic Mirror” and the grimacing “Scary Pumpkin Talker” are bound to stop you in your tracks.

This attention-grabbing strategy works well for Hallmark. Case in point, I lingered to play with all the fun buttons and sounds even though I was only popping in the store quickly for a greeting card. (I have to say I’m tempted to return for the “Witchiest of Witches Shadowcaster.)”

But I digress.

I don’t know if it was because I had just read the recent Forbes article, “Business Schools Social Media Ranking 2013- Do You Like, Follow and Subscribe?” but I started thinking of how business schools can grab prospects’ attention and strengthen engagement in their social media campaigns.

Like Hallmark, how can business schools stop customers (MBA prospects) in their tracks when they pull up their Facebook pages or Twitter feeds?

The Forbes article argues that business schools like Harvard and Stanford are leading the way on social media. It’s not all that surprising. After all, they are brand powerhouses.

But what about all the other MBA programs out there – including smaller business schools with limited resources? How can business schools attract an active following and engage prospects online?

The real scary part of social media marketing is that there is so much information in news feeds these days that it’s difficult to stand out – especially when you have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention.

And the reason why you want to capture attention? Research shows that “42% of all marketers sourced a lead from Facebook in 2013.”

For the past six months, I’ve been monitoring and analyzing Facebook posts of nearly 40 business schools and have “pinned” more than 500 remarkable postings. Here are some tips based on some of the best posts:

1. Create Infographics

Infographics are a great way to convey a lot of data in an easy-to-read and entertaining format. Check out this example below which stands out in a news feed.

Also, note the use of hashtags to expand reach. Check out this article for more tips on how to optimize Facebook hashtags.

higher ed social media

2. Create fun contests

Increase engagement with fun contests like the one below. For added ROI, be sure to “tag” students in the photo for expanded reach.

higher ed social media

3. Use visuals

Research shows that photos on Facebook generate 53% more likes and 104% more comments than the average post.

Note that this post follows another golden rule – keep copy succinct. In fact, posts of 80 characters or less get 23% more social interaction (comments, likes, shares) than the average according to this article in Social Media Today.

higher ed social media

4. Create variety with maps

Here is another example of “thinking visually” to get noticed.

higher ed social media

5. Connect on an emotional level

Let’s face it. Academics may be the primary reason to apply to graduate school – but it’s not the only one. Enduring friendships are formed along with an extensive network. As this article points out, emotional engagement is the key to content marketing success. So, tap into the reader’s emotions through storytelling like this great example below.

higher ed social media

6. Showcase ROI

You could write a brief paragraph about all the services provided by your career office, but this list sums it up and makes a powerful statement. Notice the link back to the website for lead generation.

higher ed social media

7.  Speak to MBA prospects using their language

It’s all about connecting through common language. This does the trick nicely.

higher ed social media

8. Be colorful

Capture attention in a busy news feed with bold colors and crisp messaging. Notice how the quote below stands out.

Another bonus point – asking a question in a post gets 15% more interaction and placing a question at the end of a post, rather than at the beginning, will yield twice the results  according to the article, “KISS: Keep It Significant and Shareable.

higher ed social media

9. Make research fun & interesting

In our era of “humanized marketing” it’s all about showing the personality of the brand. Business school is serious business, but we can still present the knowledge and expertise of faculty in a fun and entertaining way. Doesn’t this make you want to sign up for his class?

higher ed social media

10. Be helpful

As consumers, we are often drawn to brands that have gone above and beyond to assist us according to this HubSpot article. Offer advice to MBA prospects to show that you “get” them and understand their needs and goals. Here’s a great example below:

higher ed social media

11. A picture is worth a thousand words

Provide proof points in a clever and enjoyable way. This photo of an intern at Diane Sawyer’s desk speaks directly to the benefits through one compelling image. Notice how the question at the end invites engagement, as well.

higher ed social media

12.  Promote location

Not every business school can be located in the financial capital of the world or in Silicon Valley. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with your location and promote the benefits. This captured my attention in my news feed. Who knew there were giant rubber duckies in Pittsburgh? Looks like a fun place to live and study. Note the question at the end of the post to draw readers into a conversation, too.

higher ed social media

At the end of the day, it’s all about creating concise and compelling messaging with engaging visuals that convey the personality of your brand. Be sure to craft posts that capture attention and stop MBA prospects from reaching for the mouse to scroll down further. Ultimately, the goal is to build relationships and produce content that makes readers want to share. As the director of marketing and communications at HootSuite says, “The potential to build relationships coupled with the ‘viral effect’ is what makes storytelling and social media powerful tools for marketers.”

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  1. Great tips and examples. Looking forward to exploring which ones I can adapt to our executive MBA program!

    October 4, 2013
  2. Kathy Hagens #

    Fantastic suggestions Barbara. Great article!

    October 3, 2013

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