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How the University of Sydney Proves the Value of Social Media

The University of Sydney, Australia's first university, was founded in 1850 and today has over 8,100 faculty, 73,000 students, and 380,000 alumni in more than 170 countries.

What they did

The University of Sydney created a social media strategy that enables the Social Squad to align content, goals, and reporting across the core social media team and the 36 official channels owned by various faculties.

  • 31.5%
    Increase in brand sentiment score since the launch of #usydonline
  • 4x
    Instagram campaign engagement rate 4x higher than platform benchmarks
  • 41%
    year-over-year increase in social video views

How they did it

The University of Sydney has four big strategic goals: enhance its research reputation, attract high-quality students, diversify its international student cohort, and build a distinctive brand.

And as an institution renowned both for its progressive thinking and penchant for challenging the status quo, it’s no surprise that the university recognizes the strategic role of social media in achieving its organizational goals.

The school’s central and cross-faculty social media managers—collectively known as the Social Squad—use Hootsuite Enterprise, Impact, Talkwalker, and Adobe to align social media strategy to the university’s goals and prove the value of social media across the entire organization.

Aligning content strategy across the university

Before Hootsuite, there was a lot of inconsistency across the university’s social media channels. The central team had no visibility into how the faculties were managing content or measuring its success.

The social media team had a vision for what they wanted to achieve and what success looked like—but they needed better alignment across the university to bring that vision to life.

With Hootsuite, the team has greater insight into what’s happening and can measure the individual and combined success of the Social Squad.

The Social Squad meets weekly to discuss upcoming content, determine its strategic importance, and decide which channels to share it on to ensure it reaches the right audience. They also collaborate on best practices, test different ways of working, align on content, and track their progress.

Mapping the student journey with Hootsuite and Adobe

The University of Sydney’s website is built, managed, and measured through Adobe Experience Manager. The preconfigured Hootsuite integration with Adobe enables the university to track the impact of social media across the entire student journey.

Using built-in tracking codes, the school can measure engagement from the first time an individual engages on social media to when they become a prospective student on the website.

This end-to-end visibility into the student journey enables the social media team to measure and prove the return on investment in social media.

two female students holding a sign saying we shall overcome

Tracking sentiment and proactively managing brand reputation

The University of Sydney uses Talkwalker and Hootsuite to understand people’s perceptions of the brand in various online channels. Sentiment tracking has transformed the university’s ability to measure and manage its brand reputation.

By monitoring brand sentiment scores and engaging in social listening, the social media team gains helpful insights to inform campaign strategy. It can then take proactive steps to boost sentiment through social media communications as needed.

For example, during the COVID-19 lockdowns, the team noticed negative sentiment around travel in Australia among international audiences. Following a thoughtful campaign called Stay Strong India, the team saw an incredible 30% increase in net sentiment score.

Group of four students holding a sign saying we shall overcome
The ability to show stakeholders how a social media post leads prospective students to the website and eventually to apply for a specific course helps us prove the value of social and justify more investment.
Liz Grey
Social media team
University of Sydney

Measuring the impact and value of social media

In the past, the social team found it difficult to report on its progress in a meaningful way. There was so much content being shared across so many channels, it was hard to keep track of it all.

With the help of Hootsuite’s Business Value and Customer Success teams, the University of Sydney set benchmarks against other higher education institutions. The University can now demonstrate how it tracks higher than both industry and average platform benchmarks, mainly because it has a great understanding of its audiences.

With Hootsuite Impact, the team can also clearly report on everything from engagement to campaign performance and return on investment without spending days or weeks analyzing data in spreadsheets.

The results

The University of Sydney is less than one year into its new social media strategy, and it is already using social media and tracking its performance in a way that raises the university to an entirely new level of social media best practice.

The team plans to continue executing its effective strategy, gathering more insights on student and academic audiences, and recruiting more influencers to help it continue to grow its social media presence and achieve its ambitious goals.

overhead view of a forest

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