In recent years, many higher education institutions have started to expand their social media presence. Not only does social media help to engage current students, but it allows prospective students to feel like part of the school community before they even arrive on campus. Social media also gives alumni an easy, accessible way to stay involved with their alma mater. It may sound simple, but just posting a few photos on Instagram and Facebook each week isn’t going to give you the active, engaged student community you want to develop. Creating a sustainable, strategic presence is essential to helping you reach your goal and increase social media engagement.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few suggestions:

Get to know your students: past, present, and prospective

Whether you’re looking to reach your prospective students or alumni who graduated 30 years ago, to create a successful post you need to know who you’re speaking to. Think about who your students are, and what matters to them. You could even create a set of student personas to help you better understand your target audience. By doing this, the content you create will be more closely related to your target audience’s goals and interests and will be more likely to generate social media engagement.

Mix up your content to provide value to all of your audiences

Most schools focus primarily on prospective and current students, but alumni are a huge portion of your fan base. Let’s face it, college only lasts four short years, and then we’re out in the “real world” looking back at our college experience with rose-colored glasses. Share a throwback post of photos from a notable past event to appeal to your alums’ sense of nostalgia, or get prospective students excited about starting their higher ed journey with pictures from last year’s move-in day. To engage with multiple groups, share a link to a packing list of all the first-year college essentials, and ask current students and alumni to share one thing they wish they brought to school as a freshman. Giving the majority of your audience a reason to join the conversation and engage with a post is a sure way to increase engagement.

Utilize the power of influencers (on campus ones!)

Believe it or not, some of the most powerful social media influencers for your school can be found right on campus. Current students and faculty are on campus each and every day, and they know exactly what it’s like to be a part of your college or university. Recruit a group of students and faculty to share their stories with you, and post them. Allow a student or club to take over one of your social platforms for a day. Start having conversations with people around campus, and use the information you gain to better inform your posts in the future. The possibilities are endless!

Prioritize measurement and optimize your efforts based on results

Last but not least, once you’ve changed up your strategy and tried a few new tactics, take a step back from the day-to-day engagement and look at the impact of your efforts. There will be content that worked for you, and content that didn’t. Learn from the posts that outperformed the others, and create similar posts to keep growing your follower base. Social media is constantly evolving, and as a result, your strategy has to evolve with it. It may sound daunting, but once you’ve mastered the basics and made a few optimizations, you’ll have a vibrant online community in no time.