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.

4.5K

increase in Twitter followers

9K

increase in Facebook fans

436K

engagements on Instagram

Objectives

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With the majority of its students active on social media, the University of St Andrews knew it needed to have an active presence on the networks that mattered to them. The University selected Hootsuite Enterprise to ensure consistency across all social channels, particularly during event campaigns, but also because of its powerful reporting and analytics functionality—meaning results could be showcased effectively.

How they did it

Being consistent across all social media channels

As one of the most prestigious Universities in the world, the University of St Andrews is committed to ensuring students have an exceptional experience whilst studying at the institution. However, with students spending a significant amount of their time online, the University decided it needed to overhaul its digital efforts to ensure it was doing enough to engage with students.

The University wanted to improve the frequency of its social posts. Ensuring a consistent and high level of engagement meant teams had to avoid posting sporadically, and instead ensure there was a steady stream of content to connect with students and maintain their interest. With Hootsuite Enterprise, social teams have a clear overview of all content being scheduled across different departments who use social. Working together collaboratively through one single platform ensured that any social activity that took place was coordinated, and seamless.

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The University found this particularly useful during event campaigns such as Orientation Week and Graduation. Students often had many queries and concerns at these events, so ensuring there was a consistent posting across channels to keep them updated was critical. Through the Hootsuite dashboard, the University could quickly check what posts had been sent, or scheduled by different departments, or if there were gaps in activity that needed to be filled. This meant teams no longer had to manually check each social profile, or contact departmental social teams, to ensure content has been published, saving a significant amount of time and effort.

In fact, with Hootsuite’s dashboard showing a clear view of all social activity, the teams had the assurance that students were continually provided useful information throughout the day. With social content planned ahead of time, and scheduled, teams could spend their time on the ground helping students directly rather than worrying about digital content.

Using Hootsuite has enabled us to not only connect with students in ways that suit them, but also thanks to Talkwalker, tailor content to their interests and needs.

Christine Tudhope Senior Communications Manager University of St Andrews
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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.

As a result, the University of St Andrews adapted its content and launched its ‘student-takeover’ initiative on Instagram. This gave students the opportunity to own the University’s Instagram page for the day to show others a typical day-in-the-life of a student. In fact, these takeovers generated a growth in followers from around 7,000 to 22,000. In the first six months of 2019, the University has successfully launched 60 student takeovers.

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.

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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.

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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The results

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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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