LinkedIn launched University Pages in 2013 as part of its dedicated service for higher education. At launch, the networking site simultaneously lowered the minimum required age for users from 18 to 13, allowing secondary school students to create profiles – making the site an invaluable channel for universities across the world to connect with prospective students. ICEF Monitor reported at the start of 2015 that 25,000 learning institutions had signed up to the service. If your university doesn’t have a page yet, you can request one: see this blog on colleagewebeditor.com to find out how.
In an introductory blog, LinkedIn’s Director of Product Management Christine Allen described University Pages as “one cornerstone of our strategy to help students at every critical milestone from campus to fulfilling, successful careers”. LinkedIn now has over 300 million users worldwide, and proves an invaluable way for universities to create a community for enrolled students, alumni and staff – as well as prospects and their parents. Read on for an outline of key features of LinkedIn’s University Pages.
This feed is a good way to share campus updates, bulletins, and news stories: for instance, building closures or awards won by staff members. Experts recommend posting at least once a day to keep the feed current. Kim Brown, Syracuse University’s Assistant Director of Alumni Program, told Sprout Social that posts should be more career-focused than the broader news and information updates posted on Facebook or Twitter. She also notes that status updates aren’t one-size-fits-all. Universities can post targeted status updates to appeal to different segments of their audience with distinct interests and requirements.
It’s a good idea to post career opportunities: for example, University of Washington posts a ‘job of the week’ students may be interested in. Other posts could include success stories of students who have overcome adversity to achieve.
Enrolled students can widen their professional network and interact with classmates and staff members. Prospects can also make the most of networking opportunities – they can connect with other prospects online, and use message boards to chat to peers, enrolled students and faculty.
University Pages also lets users post questions and comments on the page. Prospects (or their parents) can ask questions to see what studying at your uni is like; enrolled students can clarify information about a campus event; and alumni can leave a message to re-engage.
As LinkedIn’s Education Engagement Lead Charles Hardy explained to Red Brick Research: “The platform represents a live alumni data source and is therefore used extensively by alumni relations departments who want to locate particular alumni or arrange marketing activity.”
Each university page has a University Outcome Rankings chart displaying how many graduates land jobs in particular professional categories. Users can also see where graduates live, which companies they work for and what sort of jobs they do. This information is automatically aggregated by LinkedIn using information about members.
Recommendations and notable tabs
The recommendations tab displays testimonials from former students, who can sing your university’s praises for you: see Imperial College as an example. The notable tab highlights alumni whose career could inspire prospective and current students: see Robert Gordon University’s notable tab, which lists influential CEOs, professors and managing directors.
LinkedIn is a useful platform to invite students to events, promote events, reply to queries and request feedback. University of California, Berkeley uses LinkedIn to promote CalDay, an annual event which sees non-students allowed to attend lectures, talks and activities on campus. To promote football games, Arizona State University runs a ‘fan photo of the week’ contest.
Many universities run course-specific groups, ones for societies and sports teams, and groups for more niche interests. For example, Royal Holloway’s array of groups includes a group for the university's geologists, an entrepreneurship network and one which helps media and arts student land work placements in the industry.
HubSpot recommends creating a group for prospective students’ parents, addressing their queries and providing information about scholarships, tuition fees and campus activities. Alumni groups offer a chance to reconnect with alumni to capitalise on fundraising opportunities: see University of Exeter’s, which is open to both previous students and current and previous staff members. Once your uni has a good variety of groups, you can highlight specific ones using the University Pages notable groups widget.
Just as your university needs a detailed strategy for Facebook and Twitter, it's also required for LinkedIn. It can be a good idea to maintain a university page as well as a separate company page: the latter focusing on the university as business, its staff and any open vacancies. If you opt for this approach, make sure both are consistent, regularly updated and that neither is neglected in favour of the other.
Got any tips for using LinkedIn in higher education? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @fullfabric.