The purpose of the University’s social media channels is to showcase what we do as an institution, enhancing our reputation as somewhere to live, learn and work. Part of this is sharing what’s happening on campus, as it happens.
There are key events which repeat each year, so we build support for these into our annual social media content calendar ahead of time. YUSU events (Roses, Freshers’ Week), Graduation, Open Days, YorkTalks – these are some of the activities we always support.
Alongside these regulars in the calendar, we also cover one-off events on campus. During my time working in the Marketing team so far I’ve had the opportunity to cover a number of these, including royal visits, the 2017 Election Special BBC Question Time on campus and Anna Wintour’s appearance at the Northern Youth fashion show. It’s pretty amazing to be involved in capturing a moment that becomes part of the University’s history.
Real-time coverage takes a lot more planning and coordination than some may realise. The messages and photos you see from an event on social media are in the moment, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg. Underneath that there’s a team of people working to plan, develop and share that content as quickly as possible.
Let’s start with Graduation. There’s always a brilliant atmosphere on campus whether it’s January or July – and we know how important the day is for everyone. Our goal on social is to celebrate and show the world how proud we are of our graduates.
For every Graduation period there’s a mix of pre-written content and live content which we get on the day. Our honorary graduate posts, links to the live stream and congratulations messages are planned and scheduled in advance using Hootsuite (usually about a week before Graduation). This leaves the rota team free to deal with enquiries and provide extra coverage of events as they happen. We aren’t often at our desks for long during Graduation! Our daily photo albums of highlights from Graduation do really well, so that’s one of our priorities for the day. We usually go out onto campus between each ceremony to photograph graduands and their families.
Another key part of Graduation coverage is the live stream of every single ceremony on YouTube. The broadcast itself is produced by the AV team. It’s the social media team’s responsibility to promote the stream ahead of the event, and handle any enquiries relating to the streams – if the feed disappears we soon know about it as we are inundated with comments and messages! After the live streams finish, we add the recordings to playlists on the University’s YouTube channel, updating the descriptions, titles and thumbnail images.
Another event we cover each year on social media is the annual Roses sports tournament against Lancaster. We’ve been doing this since 2015 and work closely with YUSU to promote the event. YUSU also arrange access for us to attend the opening ceremony and fixtures. Last year Roses was away so we paid two students to go to Lancaster and get the live coverage for us. It’s really good to involve students as it gives our content a more authentic and relatable voice.
Alongside students on the ground, we usually have a member of the team monitoring the channels from the office – sharing extra content (retweets and so on) and responding to any queries received. Our students are briefed ahead of the takeovers to clearly outline our expectations. This approach has worked really well so far – we’ve also had some great Instagram takeovers during Open Days and the Summer Ball.
The recent Vice-Chancellor’s Inauguration is a key example of an event which doesn’t happen all the time but is obviously a key part of the institution’s history. As with Graduation we had a live stream of the speech, and we were also asked to post live quotes and photos during the event. This approach was different to what we do at Roses and Graduation as it was more time-sensitive. It’s a shorter event, but we only had a window of 50 minutes to get the content out.
It’s one thing to tweet about a conference or event from a personal Twitter feed, but when it comes from a corporate account it’s even more important to share high quality, accurate content. Whatever we post on the University channels has the potential to be retweeted and seen by thousands of people. So, rather than have someone sitting in the room trying to listen and write posts (which is incredibly difficult), it’s often helpful if we can have access to any speeches or lectures beforehand. This makes it possible for us to pre-write content. Seeing this content early also maximises our ability to pick out the right messages, and use the correct tone of voice. It’s good to have time to get things checked before we post them.
We are able to schedule our content via Hootsuite, but the tweets had to go out live so that they were in time with what the Vice-Chancellor was saying. This is where the live stream came in handy – I could get the text ready for the right time during the speech without being in the room. And even though I wasn’t physically there, our photographer Alex was – he was taking photos and transferring them from his camera to a shared Google Drive folder. This meant that each tweet could be accompanied by a high quality image. This process was new for us but it worked well and coverage went smoothly on the day.
Covering events on social media can be hectic and an intense time, but it’s so satisfying when it all goes to plan and the team effort pays off.