LinkedIn is the number one platform for business to business and professional communications. With 303 million monthly active users, communications from companies are viewed as more trustworthy and accurate due to the professional nature of the platform.
LinkedIn is best used to build trust with professional audiences and build thought leadership reputation.
There are many opportunities within Herts. LinkedIn is the place to discuss them and invite others to go and get involved. Similarly, it is the perfect platform to showcase University successes and accolades.
Primarily the audience on this platform includes postgraduates, staff, academics, alumni and corporate (i.e. businesses, government, other key external stakeholders and partners of the University), with a lesser focus on undergraduates.
Need to knows
Create compelling opening
As LinkedIn’s feed will “hide” the bottom half of a message, it is important to create a compelling first sentence, with a line break in the paragraph before continuing with the copy. This increases engagement and compels users to 'read more'.
LinkedIn is a professional platform but is also on the lighter side of the professional sphere. For content to land correctly, the tone should be more on the professional side. It should not be advertising, but also not Facebook posts either.
Use the Business Page Features
Business pages have features that can be great for increasing engagement:
- Share relevant PowerPoints, PDFs, and Word Docs.
- React and comment on hashtag feeds associated with your Page.
- Connect with your community in real-time using the LinkedIn virtual events solutions.
- Create a showcase page.
Consider the content
As this platform responds best to a more professional tone, ensure your content is suited to LinkedIn. Examples of this are references to awards, accolades, recent work, achievements. Avoid personal content or anything that may be inappropriate.
Know your audience
Undergraduates are encouraged to join LinkedIn during induction. When they are there, they are looking at internship and work experience opportunities. Postgraduates will be somewhat active on LinkedIn, investigating work opportunities. Corporate and Staff and Academics will be active, interested in sharing and promoting the University's accolades, as well as keeping an eye on possible professional opportunities within the University. A key audience is Alumni and Business School contacts, who want to keep up with their University and can be harnessed as powerful brand advocates.
Talk about opportunities
Known as a professional space, it will be the first place users will look for opportunities within the University. Be sure you are promoting them and proudly talking about them. However, always loop in and discuss this with HR before posting on behalf of the University.
Undergraduates may have little experience in the professional world and practices. Keep displays about opportunities clear and simple, and wherever possible supplement these with aids for first timers.
Find the correct company
LinkedIn often has multiple accounts for the same company, which may be fake, accidental, old, or regional. Make sure you are tagging/linking to the correct account.
Help with networking
LinkedIn will be a great source for growing the network of postgraduate students, staff and academics. Help them in this pursuit by sharing work and accolades by students, lecturers, and other contacts.
Ensure that you have permission from that person before you share or celebrate the achievements of lecturers, researchers and students. You do not want to look like you are taking undue credit.
Know your CTA
The call to action you want for your post should be clear in mind. For example, do you want people to visit your website or raise brand awareness? Depending on your CTA, consider what link you include (if any) and where it will send people. Not all posts need a CTA.
Connect with communities
You can connect with communities in other ways. Commenting, sharing, and liking other posts are ways of interacting with the community that also demonstrates a wider interest in the industry, not that the Brand is just interested in self-promotion.
LinkedIn Groups can be a good way to interact with certain users, but ensure you are not outwardly promoting/selling with your content. They also cannot be linked to.
Use hashtags sparingly and with intent
LinkedIn doesn’t ‘hide’ hashtags like Instagram does, so they can be a bit of an eye sore when used in great numbers. Go for quality over quantity because a few hashtags relevant to the story is a great way to increase engagement on LinkedIn and have the posts spread to a wider audience.
These are becoming more prominent on Business Pages though, along with expressions of intent. It is perfectly acceptable to outline the intent of the post. For example, “Herts is... offering help for x, y, z”.
Dos and don'ts
|✅ You should always||⛔️ You should never|
|Keep it professional.||Don't overuse hashtags.|
|Consider the content (i.e. awards, accolades, recent work, achievements).||Don't be too casual in your tone.|
|Consider your audience - who are you targeting?||Don't deviate from the brand personality and platform tone.|
|Share opportunities (internships, apprenticeships, work experience, etc.).||Avoid personal content or anything that may be inappropriate.|
|Keep it clear and simple for those with less professional experience.||Don’t post work without securing permission to do so.|
|Share information for first time applicants.||Don't just recycle old posts or posts from your other social channels.|
|Tag companies and connections.||Create a personal profile for a business account as you will not benefit from the full range of features.|
|Ensure you're tagging the correct company.|
|Share work and accolades by students, lecturers, and other contacts.|
|Always get permission before sharing work.|
|Know your CTA.|
|Consider which link you include (if any).|
|Connect with communities.|
|Comment share and like other posts.|
|Use hashtags sparingly.|
|Use the Business Page features.|
|Ensure all assets are the correct specification.|
|Check spelling and grammar.|
|If in doubt, consult a second opinion.|
|Ideal word count||150-200 words|
|Cover Photo (page or profile)||1584 (w) x 396 (h) px|
|Banner image (company page)||1536 (w) x 768 (h) px|
|Profile||400 (w) x 400 (h) px|
|Logo for company page||400 (w) x 400 (h) px|
|Shared image post||520 (w) x 320 (h) px|
|Shared link post||520 (w) x 272 (h) px|
When to post
It is always important to remember not to post for the sake of posting something. If you’re not saying something with your post, it's not worth posting. You could throwback to another post as an alternative to keep the conversation going.
|High||Twice a day|
|Low||Once a week|
|Recommended||Once a day|
|When||Between 10am and 11am|
|Notes||It's OK to share or post every other day, to avoid coming off like spam.|
Although this is a great place to start, use the platform analytics to discover what works for your audiences (i.e. how often, what days, what time, etc.). LinkedIn analytics can be accessed from any page. On the left-hand side, under your page logo in a box, click “See visitor analytics”.
Undergraduates will heavily rely on it for information and updates, both serious in times of crisis (such as COVID-19) and for more casual information (such as about events or societies).
You can also expect undergraduates to speak candidly about the University on Twitter and Facebook. Do not be afraid to engage with them and the community on there.
What are their preferred social media platforms?
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will be their most popular choices. They will expect information targeted to them, so it is important that they are regularly catered to in posts.
Undergraduates use Instagram as a way to keep up to date with the latest things happening at the University (i.e. upcoming events, festivals or workshops), or to simply engage with content they enjoy. We are seeing increased engagement in things like Instagram Q&As so there is a shift towards engaging with the platform for information, but which is more tailored to their specific needs and questions.
Undergraduates are not on LinkedIn too often, but when they are there, they are looking at internship and work experience opportunities and to increase their connections.
What about prospective students?
There is also some overlap between undergraduates and prospective students. Prospective students will be largely interested in seeing on social media how the student life and experience are represented.
However, there are distinct times of year when prospective students will be engaging with the University in greater numbers. Be sure you are not neglecting this audience for topics such general research, open days, prospectus/course information and clearing – in line with the campaigns around recruitment that will be running.
Prospective students will rely on a university’s social channels to help them gather a sense of the brand, which will in turn help them make decisions around applications. Research shows that social media is the first place they will look (before the website) for information and to start forming an opinion of the University. They will also use Instagram as a way to virtually see the campus, the students, lessons, facilities and the surrounding area, to give them a sense of what it will actually be like to study there.
Postgraduates will have pride in their university. Connecting with them through social media allows them to personally interact with the brand. This could be through engaging with content but could also be by sharing their own content which relates to the University, e.g. photos of themselves on campus or with friends.
What are their preferred social media platforms?
Just like undergraduates, postgraduates would be relying on University Twitter accounts for up to date information about the COVID crisis, and would engage with Facebook in a similar way.
Postgraduates are likely to be somewhat more active on LinkedIn than undergraduates, investigating work opportunities and building their profile. Utilising LinkedIn to highlight professional opportunities for postgraduates can therefore be very effective, and any help you can provide to help them grow their network and visibility will be appreciated by them.
Similar to undergraduates, Instagram should be used to showcase any new events and offerings around the University, but again, postgraduates will also engage with content they simply enjoy (e.g. beautiful campus photography, campaign content around Black History Month)
For postgraduate students who are already familiar with the University, there could be an opportunity to engage them with new courses or offerings, so consideration should be given to how to share this information most impactfully across the relevant channels that doesn’t come across as overtly sales led.
Corporate and enterprise audiences
What are their preferred social media platforms?
What about tone of voice?
Staff and academic audiences
Staff and academics will have an overview of all social channels but will be heavily reliant on Twitter to receive up to date information, not just about the University but about issues affecting the sector (Twitter is widely regarded as the best source of breaking news).
However, staff and academics should never use social media to break news or news that has not been confirmed by the university (PR are the first contact for this). We would encourage news being shared via internal channels first (e.g. HertsHub, UHQ emails) and that social media is a way to amplify that and ensure that it reaches more of our audience, where appropriate.
Staff and academics also use Twitter to promote research and other interests. This can be a rich area for retweeting on behalf of the University, showcasing some of the work of the staff and academics. LinkedIn is used currently but not as consistently or actively by our staff and academic community.
How do I engage my fellow staff and academics in using social media?
This group will have a presence on LinkedIn, for more professional and career specific interests, but as a key business engagement platform, staff advocacy on this channel can be a remarkably powerful tool. However, not everyone will know where to start.
To encourage more engagement with LinkedIn from your fellow staff and academics, ensure you:
- Leave prompts for their input.
- Lead by example, with more senior members.
- Ask or motivate their involvement (motivations include elevating their own personal brands by association, driving more and faster revenue generation and more connections).
- Educate them to empower them. There are misconceptions that LinkedIn is just somewhere you go when you’re looking for a job, and those that have been at the University for a number of years probably already have a rich internal network of contacts and don’t see the value. Highlight the benefits of being present on LinkedIn, beyond job hunting, e.g.
- Keeping an eye on competitor institutions
- Keeping abreast of key research sector or industry news and opinions
- Accessing training and development opportunities
- Building a captive audience for sharing of research etc
- Leave them with confidence their input is valued and teach them the basics of posting in association with the university, such as:
- Tag the university
- Ensure you have permissions
- Ensure you’re not sharing offensive content
Similarly, Twitter can be an excellent platform for sharing research and keeping abreast of industry or research sector news. At present there is good engagement with Twitter amongst the academic community, but this could be amplified by regularly tagging the University in posts, linking to relevant areas of the website and encouraging sharing of colleagues content amongst teams or departments (via personal Twitter profiles or professional), to increase breadth of reach.
What about tone of voice?
Our communication style internally is honest, informative and clear. This is particularly true in the UHQ emails, and for content created for staff on HertsHub. These principles should apply to engage with staff and academics on social media too. Even when the subject matter or content relates to complex research, a clear tone of voice and message works best to ensure it resonates with a broad staff/academic base and is relatable for all.
There is a temptation to want to convey the complex in a complex way, but this is not recommended for any of our audiences. Social media is a place for snapshots of digestible information which can prompt audiences to delve deeper, but they should still get a clear sense of the theme/story from the content of your post, regardless of platform.