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How SUNY Oneonta Optimized its Social Media Strategy

How did SUNY Oneonta earn 2015’s top ranking for social media presence among
SUNY’s 27 four-year campuses?


SUNY Oneonta logo

Challenge

SUNY Oneonta realized they weren’t leveraging social media to its full extent and that this communications channel offered untapped opportunities to foster meaningful relationships with:

  • Prospects
  • Current students
  • Parents
  • Alumni
  • Community members
  • The media

“However, up to that time, my campus had focused more on improving old media than on investing in new. The danger of falling behind if we didn’t do something to jumpstart our efforts was real. We needed to cover a lot of ground, both technical and strategic, in a short time. That’s why I brought a team to Academic Impressions' Social Media Strategy for Higher Education: Beyond the Basics conference (twice, in fact).”

Hal Legg, Executive Director of Communications, SUNY Oneonta

Learning

At the conference, Hal Legg and his team:

  • Reviewed case studies of innovative uses of social media channels.
  • Set goals for their own social media strategy.
  • Identified the metrics needed to gauge their progress.
  • Discussed specific next steps and began implementing immediately upon their return to campus.

“Before attending AI's social media conference, we were social media users. Now I think we have a keen sense for the role of social in acting strategically, building relationships with constituencies, and crisis response. Just as important, we’re able to articulate to others the impact of our efforts across our social channels.”

Hal Legg, Executive Director of Communications, SUNY Oneonta

Action

After returning to campus, SUNY Oneanta’s team implemented what they had learned. They:

  • Developed a messaging architecture and implemented a content strategy and calendar.
  • Created a sandbox to experiment with various engagement tactics. “For example, a Valentine’s Day promotion asked alumni couples who met at Oneonta to share their stories. Our #Fall4Oneonta photo contest presented great autumn pictures—all submitted by students— across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.”
  • Assigned social media responsibilities more broadly, creating a social media team of six people with various skill sets—including photography, video production, copy writing and digital design—who could contribute and collaborate on content. The associate director of communications leads the team, which meets weekly to brainstorm content ideas and assign tasks.
  • Created a Social Media Users Group on campus to provide leadership and encourage best practices.
  • Fully integrated social into their overall publicity efforts. “Nearly every institutional event or messaging opportunity now has a social component. Social often is the first and primary channel. For example, local reporters sometimes call us for details on a story we’ve featured on our Facebook page, rather than finding out about it via news release or media pitch.”

Results

“All of these,” Hal Legg says, “are direct results of our engagement with AI”:

  • Among SUNY’s 27 four-year campuses, SUNY Oneonta was ranked #1 in social media presence by students in 2015.
  • Engagement with our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts continues to increase.
  • In fall 2015, the SUNY Oneonta campus was the target of a threat posted on Yik Yak. “We handled the communications aspects of the event efficiency and effectively.”

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