The 2010s were a wild ride on social media, with the rise and fall of mega platforms (Google+, anyone?), Facebook’s world domination, and the monetization — and even weaponization — of user data felt like a world-weary maturation of the form.
2019 ended with Facebook continuing to lose the youth market and Instagram was now the platform everyone “has” to be on. People kept saying that Twitter was going to die but everyone kept on tweeting. TikTok started to mature (beyond the 13-and-under set) and fill in some of the empty space left by the now-defunct Vine — and a whole lot of marketing people took notice and are trying to figure out how to use it to reach high-schoolers.
Overall, UL Lafayette’s main social media platforms garnered more than 43 million impressions and 1.5 million engagements in 2019.
How social media changed at UL Lafayette
In response to the changes to our Facebook audience, UL Lafayette has shifted its strategy almost entirely away from student messaging on that platform to concentrate on reaching alumni and parents.
Facebook saw a 13% gain in impressions while dropping 25% on engagement, due in part to the loss of students engaging on the platform.
For now, we still enjoy some student engagement via parents and relatives tagging their children in comments, but we will have to continue adjusting as fewer and fewer Gen Z bother creating Facebook accounts. While Facebook remains our number one platform for impressions and engagement by far, we have to remember who we’re talking to in that space and tailor the content appropriately.
Instagram is now the University’s number one place to connect with students, particularly through the Story. Snapchat is still in play but as we have put more time into Instagram Stories, it has become more of a vehicle for broadcasting messages to students, à la Monday Messages, and used for student takeovers at campus events.
Instagram was a giant win for the year, up 130% in impressions (thanks to the increase in content for our Story). We had a 10% increase on engagements, due to a bump in comments sparked by user-generated photos in our feed and from the inclusion of Monday Messages to the IG Story.
We will continue to focus on Instagram in 2020, looking for creative ways to share student-generated content and create more engaging content for the Story.
Twitter’s drop in both impressions (-21%) and engagement (-48%) reflects our conscious decision to step away from the toxicity that had reached a crescendo at the end of 2018.
That decision led to the reallocation of time to Instagram and choosing to use our Twitter platform as only a broadcasting platform by upping our amount of retweets of key stakeholders’ accounts (i.e. @ulalumni, @RaginCajuns, and @HilliardMuseum) and posting only news- and events-related tweets. We hope to return to more engaging content (i.e. more GIFs and memes!) in 2020.
LinkedIn continues to be a solid way to reach alumni with University-wide achievements and alumni success stories. Numbers indicate that there is a lot of potential for more activity there, but until resources (i.e. time and/or employees) are made available it will remain underutilized.
Looking forward to the 2020s, expect big changes on social media as Gen Z, our first generation to grow up 100% online, take over campuses (and internet culture at-large). UL Lafayette will continue to adjust its social media strategy to meet the needs of its audience and the University’s goals.
Amy Windsor is the UL Lafayette social media strategist in the Office of Communications and Marketing. If you have any questions or a burning desire to discuss social media stop by Stephen 109 every Monday between 3:30-4:30 p.m. for office hours.