5 Student Engagement and Social Media Secrets from Boston University and the University of Southern California

Scott Dulman

August 29, 20224 min read

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Social engagement lessons learned and best practices

Social media and student engagement leaders at the University of Southern California (USC) and Boston University’s (BU) use innovative social media, social listening, and AI solutions to engage current and prospective students. Inside Higher Ed hosted a webinar with thought leaders from BU and USC who discussed how they communicate and support students across campus and across the country.

Victoria Mendoza (Director of Social Media, USC) and Dave McDonald (Associate Director of Social Media, BU) discussed their social media, student engagement, and digital marketing lessons learned and best practices. They also shared the analytics that enable USC and BU to optimize the messaging, content, resources, and services delivered to the community. Victoria and Dave shared valuable insights about:

  • Developing digital strategies, messaging, and content to improve student engagement

  • Managing crisis communications with AI, social media and social listening

  • Benchmarking against peer institutions

  • Sharing student experience and social engagement dashboards, reports, and performance metrics with university leadership

Watch the Inside Higher Ed Webinar: Student Engagement and Social Strategy Success Stories

Student engagement challenges

Student engagement and college experience are critical factors in determining student retention, happiness, and well-being. Generation Y and Generation Z have shifted from traditional engagement and communication channels to social media, messaging, chat, and other digital channels. In an era when student demographics, behaviors, and levels of participation in higher education are changing, it's harder than ever to find, engage, enroll, and support students. 

Having the right information about colleges, coursework, campus community, and careers is important to students. BU and USC want to improve their understanding of students’ unique needs and preferred communication styles so they can effectively deliver information to all students, prospective students, and community members.

BU expands global reach through effective social engagement programs

Dave McDonald shared lessons learned and success stories from BU. He discussed three topics that are important for colleges and universities that want to better engage and support students:

  • Top engaged content by social channel

  • Student engagement reporting and goal setting

  • How social listening helps identify new content ideas and quickly detects crises

Dave explained how social media listening allows BU to track what's happening on owned channels, third party channels, news sites, blogs, and review sites. Social listening gives BU a complete picture of what people are talking about. The university tracks emerging crises, community issues, BU brand mentions, and alumni.

The University also uses social listening to improve student engagement, support, and content. When Dave’s team creates new content about health, classes, student life, and other topics, they listen to 30+ social and digital channels, including Reddit, Instagram, TikTok, Weibo, and WeChat.

Dave observed, “At BU, we offer Sprinklr to the wider university community with 45 different colleges, schools, and offices using the Sprinklr platform. It's a great way to get more engaging social content out quickly.” The platform allows BU to manage the social media presence of dozens of stakeholders from the various schools within the university, each using social media in their own way. With Sprinklr, the 45 teams can access shared dashboards, exchange best practices, and maintain a consistent brand voice.

USC supports students with advanced social listening tools

Victoria Mendoza shared four social media management and listening focus areas that are important to USC. She described her team’s best practices that help the University:

  • Identify community concerns and issues with social listening

  • Benchmark against peer institutions

  • Discover and track trends across all social and digital channels

  • Report and analyze student engagement across all campaigns and channels

Students, parents, alumni, and the community talk about your school. It’s important to be aware of the discussions, cutting through all the conversations on social media, to discover key issues that must be addressed before they hit the news cycle. USC relies on Sprinklr to identify issues early and resolve problems quickly. Sprinklr automatically alerts the right teams when potential risks or crises arise. Victoria said that, “USC has tested many social listening tools. I've been the happiest with Sprinklr.”

Victoria also discussed tools for benchmarking USC against peer institutions. The University leadership needs to know what other institutions are doing, particularly against key initiatives. USC set up dashboards to follow how other institutions are responding to key initiatives, current issues, and breaking news. For example, Victoria showed how her team let the USC leadership know that their PAC 12 to Big Ten media announcement and social content reached 1.7 billion people.

Learn more about innovative student engagement solutions 

USC and BU use the Sprinklr student experience management platform to research, listen, analyze, and deliver personalized engagement to students on 30+ messaging, chat, and social channels. AI helps universities understand student sentiment and deliver personalized support based on real-time behavior and engagement with students. Colleges and universities can help improve student retention, persistence, graduation rate, first year retention, and transition to college with a unified student experience management platform.

BU and USC leverage Sprinklr to break down silos and share best practices and information internally about what’s working and what’s not working in student engagement. The platform helps both teams:

  • Understand student sentiment using AI to analyze unstructured data like photos, videos, reactions, shares, comments, and emojis

  • Improve social engagement with smart alerts and workflow to detect and respond to student issues faster and engaging students across all channels

  • Collaborate across departments through automation and governance

Want to learn how Sprinklr helps more than 30 colleges and universities unify student experience management functions in a single enterprise platform?

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