College Cred: How 3 Social Media Leaders Shifted Strategies During COVID-19

Graduation season is here. For many graduates, this time of year brings forth a lot of different emotions. It’s a time to honor your commitment to education, celebrate your accomplishments and reflect on the time you spent working to get here.

For students and higher education staff alike, the last year has been very different. Challenging is an understatement.

As more students and staff return to campus this fall, it’s important that we document the lessons learned from this unprecedented school year while simultaneously reimagining the future with a fresh perspective. After all, for many, both studying and working at a university this past year meant venturing into unknown territory.

We sat down with Lakeyia Brown, Social Media Specialist at The University of South Carolina, Morgan Campbell, Social Media & Digital Marketing Specialist at Indiana University Bloomington, and Stanton Adams, Creative Director at The Citadel for a discussion about working in the world of higher education and social media.

During the Higher Education Social Media Roundtable session at 20/21 Vision: The Workflow Summit, we spoke about the changing environment on college campuses due to COVID-19 and how it impacted their digital marketing plans. Read on for a few key takeaways from our conversation and bookmark this page to watch the entire on-demand session, below.

Let the Students Take the Stage

The typical university messaging students and alumni see online can get stale. In recent months, it became increasingly important to walk the line between sharing safety protocols and fun/inspiring content for all.

At the University of South Carolina, Lakeyia Brown and the marketing team made it their mission to connect with a group of dedicated students (their brand ambassadors, the Gamecock Guides) in order to collaborate on content and amplify the university’s voice, from a real student perspective.

“I’m sure any higher ed social media marketer can attest that this past year has been hard and administrations have had to make very difficult decisions… so we really leaned on our Gamecock Guides to tell stories on different platforms, as it made sense in our content calendar.”

With real students at the helm of the U of SC’s content creation, the university’s target audience on social media was able to hear from fellow followers and engage with more relatable content – for the students, by the students.

Related content: The Secret Sauce for Universities on TikTok

Empathy is Always in Style

Enforcing a set of rules, especially for a group of 40,000+ students, can be difficult. When it comes to sharing those rules and relevant updates online, honesty, transparency and empathy are essential to driving home that core message.

For Morgan Campbell and the social media team at Indiana University Bloomington, building a sense of camaraderie and relying on the larger IU community was essential to keeping the students safe, on track and in the know about all things COVID-related. In turn, the university was able to empower students to remain vigilant, caring and understanding as the world around us adapted to the pandemic.

Related content: Utah Valley University’s Drive-In Commencement and Convocation

Take Time to Disconnect

If there’s one major takeaway we can learn from working as marketers in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s that you need time to breathe, unwind and take it easy.

For university students and staff, it’s been a year unlike any other. And taking some time for yourself, away from schoolwork, curriculums and online classes can do wonders for your mental health. For social media managers the professionals who scroll through newsfeeds and engage with others all day, every day – disconnecting for a moment each day is the key to continued success at work without guilt, anxiety or burnout.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and to put this advice in perspective, Stanton Adams from The Citadel summarized this critical point clearly:

Want to hear more marketing professionals discuss their creative, collaborative workflows? Join us on June 24 for 20/21 Vision: The Collaboration Summit to go behind the scenes with some of your favorite brands on the cutting-edge of visual storytelling.

Register now

College Cred: How 3 Social Media Leaders Shifted Strategies During COVID-19 is written by Jeremy Berkowitz for

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