How we promote our long-form stories

Are you familiar with the Stories section on the University website? The digital communications team have been creating long-forms since 2015 with the purpose of showcasing the University’s research, history and student experience. Stories from 2017 have included Breaking bonds and What’s bad about being good?

Featuring in a long-form is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of your story to a wider audience and get prominent coverage on the University website and social media channels. Part of every long-form strategy is to build a communications plan to ensure that we share your story with as many people as possible.

So how do we promote a long-form?

1. Create the communications plan
When a long-form is ready to share, we take time to create a communications plan. This involves deciding when the long-form will be published, what key points from the story will be promoted and what social media channels we will use to share it on.

Every Monday morning, team members from across corporate communications have a planning meeting to discuss the week ahead. If a long-form is being released, then it will also be decided how the long-form plan fits into the bigger University communications plan.

2. Promotion on the website
Once a long-form is published online it receives a prominent position on the University homepage. The homepage is the first page many of our users view and promoting the story in the ‘What’s happening in St Andrews’ section increases the chances of it being clicked on. The tile remains on the homepage for several weeks, meaning that thousands of users will potentially see your story.

3. Social media
The University currently has over 77,000 social media followers and is one of our biggest platforms for communicating with people both inside and outside the University.

Part of the communication plan includes a social media schedule which details when and where the long-form will be shared on social media. The main channels we use are Facebook and Twitter; however, if there is a justified case we will also look at sharing on Instagram and other channels too.

Facebook and Twitter allow us to share the videos and images which generally feature in a story. Typically, we will divide a long-form into smaller topics and promote each section separately on Facebook and Twitter across the week. It makes the long-form easier for the audience to digest and keeps posts short but engaging. It also means that, unlike a news release, which might get one post, a long-form will get shared multiple times throughout the week, increasing the audience that it is reaching.

We also use social media to engage with influential profiles who have an interest in the story. We encourage people who feature in the long-form to share the story on their personal social media channels as this also increases the chances of it being picked up by influencers. For example, the effective altruism story was Tweeted by leading philosopher Peter Singer who has over 82,000 followers.

4. Internal communications

As well as using social media we also promote the long-form via internal communications. ‘In the Loop’ is a weekly newsletter which is sent to all University staff each Friday. A link to the latest long-form story will feature in ‘In the Loop’ after it is published, meaning that all staff will have the opportunity to read your story.

5. Repurposing content

Long-forms are designed to be evergreen content. This means that the information will still be relevant to the reader in one month, six months or even a year’s time. For this reason, we try not to date the story with information which has a short time span. This also allows us to potentially share the long-form multiple times throughout the year when it has relevance to the University. For example, St Andrews to Zambia was shared almost a year after publication after Clement Mubanga Chileshe, who is involved in the project, received an honorary degree from the University in June 2017.

After each communication plan has concluded we will look at the analytics available to us to review what went well and what could be improved. This helps us to better future communication plans and ensure that we are always doing the best we can to get your story out to as many people as possible.

If you are interested in being the feature of a long-form story in 2018, please get in touch with the digital communications team.

 

Paying to post – advertising on Facebook

It is estimated that in 2017, nearly 36 billion USD will be spent on social network advertising. Facebook is one of the biggest platforms for advertising online after Google, and with adverts appearing naturally in a user’s feed you might have already engaged with a post not realising that it was, in fact, an advert. Over the past couple of months, I have worked with Development, Admissions and the School of Medicine to run various Facebook adverts from the University’s official Facebook account.

The separate adverts for Development and the School of Medicine had different objectives and show the various ways social advertising can help to achieve marketing objectives. While Development’s objective was to raise awareness of their own Facebook page during graduation week to new graduates, the School of Medicine’s aim was to increase applications for the new ScotGEM course.

If you are unfamiliar with social advertising, I have listed my top three advantages for paying to post on Facebook.

Target who you want to target

So much personal information is shared on Facebook, and this helps us to design adverts which target-specific audiences. Facebook allows for adverts to be tailored to age, location, interests and much more based on information collected from user’s profiles.

The ScotGEM adverts in July were designed to target the profiles of those most likely to meet the course entry requirements. The advert was only shown to people who had graduated in the last three years from five Scottish universities with an interest in a selection of science subjects. This meant that we were getting the best value for money and increasing the chances of those viewing the advert engaging with it.

It’s relatively cheap

Compared to traditional advertising, Facebook can provide cheaper and more effective results. Facebook allows you to define your maximum budget by either a daily or lifetime spend. This means you can run your advert knowing that you won’t be spending more than you have budgeted.

£70 was spent on the Development advert which ran for six days during graduation week. This resulted in 136 new page likes which is just over 50p spent for each new like. In comparison, development took six months to receive the same amount of new page likes organically.

Real-time analytics make it flexible

One of the benefits of advertising on Facebook is you can access detailed reports on the performance of your adverts both during and after your campaign. Facebook Ad Manager allows you to easily find out information such as what time people clicked on your ad, what type of device they used and their location. Having the ability to edit ads while they are still running also means that you can react in real time to your analytics to improve the performance of your ad.

I am currently in the process of creating guidelines for advertising on Facebook alongside a request form. In the meantime, if you are interested in advertising on Facebook through the University account, then please get in contact with me on jc331@st-andrews.ac.uk, and I will be happy to discuss your requirements.

New team member

Hello, it is nice to meet you! My name is John and I am the newest member of the digital communication team. I joined the team on Monday 5 June as the new social media and web content editor. I might be new to the University of St Andrews, but I am already familiar with the town as I grew up in Glenrothes and my family still live there today. Continue reading “New team member”