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Higher Education
Enhancing the student experience with social media content

By partnering with Hootsuite, the University of St Andrews is actively engaging students across its social media profile.

  • 4.5K
    increase in twitter followers
  • 9K
    increase in Facebook fans
  • 436K
    engagements on Instagram

The challenge

Founded in the 15th century, St Andrews is Scotland's first university and the third oldest in the English speaking world. In 2019, St Andrews had the third-highest entry standard of undergraduate admission in the UK and as a result has a duty to ensure that these students have an exceptional experience whilst studying at the reputable institution.

With the majority of higher education students being digital natives, the University of St Andrews wanted to move on from its 15th century beginnings, and into the 21st century. To do this, a strong online presence especially on social media, was important to how it improved its engagement with students.

That’s why the University partnered with Hootsuite, to help it bring relevant content on its social media networks in a consistent and effective way. With the right tools, the University could achieve its goals of not only improving engagement metrics, but also encourage greater collaboration across departments during campaigns, such as Orientation Week and Graduation.

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Products used in this study

Hootsuite Enterprise
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Analysing the performance of social campaigns

Once campaigns were over, using Hootsuite’s analytics tools, the University was able to identify what worked well, and what didn’t. The data that was provided gave the University the learnings it needed to understand its student base far better than before. In fact, the insights helped the University personalise its content for each platform based on how students were interacting with it. For example, on Twitter, students looked for the latest news and links to other content such as scholarships. For Facebook, students used the platform as a community focused channel to interact with one another. On Instagram, students were more keen on authentic content of what life at the University was truly like.

In addition, Hootsuite’s analytics highlighted to the social team that video content was very successful, as it generated engagement with 197,000 users. With clear metrics on how videos were performing online, the team pulled a fully customisable report through Hootsuite to deliver to the senior executives. Equipped with this insight, the team was able to secure further investment in the digital department from the board, and gained sign-off to hire a full-time videographer to deliver content.

Listening more closely to help during crisis

As well as pulling relevant insights, Hootsuite’s integration with platforms such as Talkwalker are invaluable to the University of St Andrews. With Talkwalker, a social listening tool, the University now keeps track of student conversations to ensure its content is reflective of what students are interested in at that moment in time.This was particularly useful when last year, a student went missing. The University could track conversations, key words and sentiment to monitor what was being said, not only help find the person that was missing, but also manage any concerns other students had during this stressful time. Being able to care for students, and cater content based on the sentiment of what people are saying online, has helped the University put the interests of its students first at key moments in time.

The results

The University of St Andrews has been able to refresh its social media strategy with Hootsuite, ensuring it interacts with students in a meaningful way. From increasing engagement across its channels, improving collaboration with departments and reporting results effectively to drive further investment in digital initiatives, the University of St Andrews has been able to enhance the student experience.

With regards to specific campaigns, the University of St Andrews has propelled the success of its social media interaction during Graduation significantly. It generated 90 new followers on Twitter, 205 new fans on Facebook and 12,000 likes on Instagram. This level of engagement has been driven by a strong understanding through Hootsuite’s analytics of what users are interested in seeing on each social network.

Longer term, the University of St Andrews will undergo a huge scale website refresh project which will include an overhaul of its social media profiles. As part of this, the University sees Hootsuite as an integral tool in this journey, ensuring that all future on-boarding is done through the platform. The initiative will ensure all departments and schools from across the University are using Hootsuite as a central platform for broadcasting content with students. This will enable greater levels of collaboration and standardise content across the board, to ensure students are experiencing consistent and relevant approach from all areas of the institution.

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Using Hootsuite to collaborate with other schools and departments has made the platform invaluable. As an institution, we now work more closely together than ever before, meaning students are always up to speed about news and announcements that they otherwise may not have known about.
Christine Tudhope
Senior Communications Manager
University of St Andrews

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