Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
The primary goal for the University of Kansas (KU) Engineering Career Center in developing and implementing its social media takeover program is to provide students and employers a casual, low-key way to connect and learn about each other.
“It is very much like what tabling sessions have provided in the past,” says Jennifer Nigro, assistant director of the KU Engineering Career Center.
During a takeover, the career center allows an employer to temporarily take over its social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) to build brand awareness among students and promote its other recruitment activities. Employers must follow the KU Engineering Career Center’s Social Media Takeover Guidelines. For example, posts should focus on culture and careers with the organization, with no sales. During their takeover, employers can share up to four posts per platform between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The social media takeover program is important, especially in the current environment when, in many cases, employers are unable to engage students in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Recruiting during a pandemic is certainly different,” Nigro says.
“Employers need ways to maintain their campus visibility and relationships, regardless of how much hiring they are doing. A social media takeover is also a way for employers to promote upcoming information sessions or career fairs, and leverage our followers to help them tap into a different audience.”
A social media takeover is an opportunity for employers to increase brand awareness, through both active engagement and students passively viewing their posts. They may even see increased traffic or engagement on their own social media, which allows them to grow their audience, Nigro notes.
For students, she explains, the benefit of employer social media takeovers is the ability to learn about a company they may not have researched otherwise.
“They get to choose to what extent they engage, and because of the virtual aspect, get to learn about companies outside those that normally visit our campus,” she says.
Meanwhile, social media takeovers allow the career center to grow its relationship with companies that aren’t always able to participate in on-campus recruitment.
“It also helps us grow our social media presence and engagement,” adds Nigro, who credits Texas Tech with sharing information that led the KU Engineering Career Center to explore social media takeovers.
There are also challenges associated with employer takeovers of social media. Since this was the KU Engineering Career Center’s first time offering them, the first challenge it needed to work through was security.
“We have seen some entities that will give their username and password to the person taking over, but we didn’t want to share our username and password, or worry about updating it frequently and risk getting locked out,” Nigro says.
“Instead, we opted to have employers email their content to us with instructions for which platforms to use and preferred times for posting if they had any. That, of course, meant a time challenge. Luckily, we had decided early on that increasing our social media presence was a priority with the pandemic, and we hired a part-time student worker to help us do that. Managing social media takeovers became one of her duties this fall.”
A social media takeover also implies that no one else will use a channel that day. However, the KU Engineering Career Center staff wanted to preserve space for the office to share information each day.
“We decided to limit posts to between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., giving us the flexibility to add our own content outside of those hours,” Nigro adds.
Nigro explains that engaging content is the most important element of an effective social media takeover.
“That means identifying your audience and your goal, then developing content that relates to both,” she says.
“Featuring people and stories using both pictures and video is effective. Ideally, a company would see not only engagement with posts during the takeover, but an increase in followers and engagement on their own media following the takeover.”
Data from the takeover itself is one metric to measure the success of a social media takeover. But, Nigro recommends, employers that take advantage of takeovers should look beyond engagement data to see if it translates to increased traffic on their own media, at their info sessions, or during a career fair.
“Do they see more applications from a school where they did a social media takeover?” she asks.
“In my own social media habits, I may not engage with every post that resonates with me, but that information and awareness still goes with me and may translate into action at a later date. As a whole, I would measure success by data as well as continued interest in participating.”
For posts, KU Engineering Career Center staff has seen anywhere from 43 to 102 average reaches. There have also been 23 to 30 views per story.
“These numbers are the same as or higher than what we would see at an employer info session,” Nigro points out.
“The posts that garnered the most engagement were those with videos or photos with people in them, as well as those with multiple photos per post. Prior to this effort, our social media was not very active; however, we have seen an increase in engagement, especially on LinkedIn and Instagram, which just launched over the summer, so was very new.”
Nigro offers several tips for conducting a successful social media takeover program:
- Have a method for staying organized;
- Set clear parameters for employers;
- Decide how you will handle security;
- Share your organization’s social media policy with all takeover participants and ask that they adhere to those policies;
- Suggest content types that are successful;
- Encourage companies to monitor their takeover and respond to those who engage; and
- Keep your own marketing needs in mind. Do not give all your social media time away and leave yourself unable to promote career services events and information.
“Also, recognize that not all companies have a robust marketing department that is familiar with opportunities like this,” Nigro says.
“Get permission to share some examples so they can see what is possible.”