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How one university conquered silos to raise the bar for student communication

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Challenge

At every university, students send and receive important information across an overlapping web of platforms, siloed departments, and a diverse group of peers. Even before they enroll, prospective students consult a broad spectrum of digital channels as they decide which school to attend. Having the right information about coursework, career opportunities, university culture, community involvement, and professional networking is essential for making the best possible choices on the educational journey. But one large U.S. research university was finding it hard to understand the unique needs and preferred communication styles of its students so it could deliver this breadth of information. 

“It’s critical that we listen to what our student population is saying,” says the school’s director of social media and digital engagement. “We need to understand how they’re feeling, track their sentiment, and tailor our messages to that community in a way that is actually helpful to them. And so they feel seen and heard.”   

But the university struggled to establish a clear baseline for the success of their messaging across social channels or share best practices and big wins among departmental marketing teams. They also needed a more effective means of communicating and reporting on the top priorities of the university president to a wider ecosystem. “We have great expertise around public health and a strong commitment to race and equity,” explains the director. “Those brand tenets need to be reflected on our social media channels.” 

In order to deliver the best possible educational experience to its students, attract the brightest young minds, and amplify the values of the university, the marketing team needed a clear understanding of which messages worked and which didn’t. They sought a solution that would help them:

  • Create impactful, consistent messages that resonate strongly with students across the full range of social media channels they use most

  • Benchmark the unique social campaigns of various departments against one another to identify and centralize winning strategies

  • More easily capture and report out on messaging KPIs for the president’s top priorities

Solution

To better understand student engagement with social campaigns and share important information in a way that resonates with students, the university leveraged social listening through Sprinklr Modern Research and Social Publishing & Engagement. The partnership is having a huge impact on both the central marketing function and individual departments. 

The messages that matter

Before implementing Sprinklr, the university lacked a systematic way to collect and draw actionable insights from social data. “We didn’t have a great way of tracking the sentiment of our audience or understanding what they were actually talking about,” says the director. 

With social listening, the marketing team has been able to move beyond vanity metrics and “likes” to establish a more sophisticated view of the student body. They’ve established customized dashboards like student sentiment analysis that collate messages from the most active social channels. “Now, we’re able to drill down into the data in ways we couldn’t before. We can see so much more than just a raw number; we can look more at the quality of the engagement on things like comments and threads. I think that’s ten times more valuable than just a double tap to leave a ‘like.’”

Being able to track the real voice of the students has paid huge dividends, especially around messaging related to the pandemic. “We would have regular meetings with leadership to decide on the critical information and messages we needed to get out. Having the data at hand has been very, very helpful from a crisis-management standpoint.”  

Powerful reporting capabilities and asset management

Access to insight-rich data was important to the university marketing team, but capturing it in a digestible form was a real differentiator. “One of the most intriguing things about Sprinklr to me,” explains the marketing director, “was having a good way to actually report out on what makes a great-performing social post.” 

But the need for great reporting went beyond simple quality metrics. In their role as stewards of the president’s broader priorities, marketing was responsible for constantly providing feedback on the kinds of messages students and faculty were engaging with, for how long, and in what kinds of ways. This kind of standard reporting has become “10,000 times easier since adopting Sprinklr. Before, we would pull these stats by hand; now we can take action with much greater speed.” 

Sprinklr’s asset management tool has also been another game changer. “In the past, we had to rely on very scattered asset management through our old tool and supplement with whatever we could internally. We had to cobble that together,” says the director. “To go from that disjointed system to being able to tag assets in specific ways in different campaigns, to see how they ladder up strategically, and for everyone involved in the process to easily pull those assets and get insight into which ones are performing best has been a big, unexpected bonus.”   

A single source of truth

In the complex environment of a large, multi-department university, it was critical that the marketing team had a tool that would pull insight from the full range of social channels. “The tool we used before was very ad-hoc in how it integrated multiple social channels. There was a reporting tool there, but it was very much a piece they had acquired and glued onto their existing platform. That always made it difficult for us to use it effectively in central marketing.” 

Social listening through Modern Research afforded the team a cohesive understanding of their audience in a single, unified view. “Everything with Sprinklr feels like it’s part of one piece, and that makes it a lot easier and more intuitive.” 

But the Sprinklr partnership has also helped the university break down silos and share information among departments about what’s working and what’s not in social messaging. As the director explains, “For many departments, their base level of knowledge and use of social media is lower because they are responsible for so many different tasks beyond just social media. We’re giving them a baseline for success they’ve never had before.”

Sprinklr’s benchmarking tool allows the university to compare the performance of social media messages across departments. Now, the central marketing department has sophisticated reporting and centralized listening capability to better educate and inform their colleagues from all parts of the environment. 

“They’re gaining insights to do their work more effectively. We’ve given them an ‘all up’ dashboard that allows them to filter by their own internal brands and departments,” says the director. These dashboards provide a rich context for the messages that resonate most by collecting engagement metrics for media type, message theme, social channel, audience demographic, and geography — with clear visualizations so departments can clearly see improvement over time. “This has been so helpful, because they have a good general baseline drawn from the experiences of their peers.”

The speed and ease of collaboration has also relieved pressure on central marketing to deliver a unified strategy across departments. “We can be true consultants and provide specific data about what will work for their unique audience. And the tool allows me to automate delivery to those units, so it’s a fairly hands-off process.”

Outcome

For the marketing team, the Sprinklr partnership is already improving educational outcomes. “With Sprinklr’s help, we’ve been able to find really interesting ways to shine a light on classes, programs, or majors that people might not have considered before, or even know existed,” says the marketing director. “It’s very cool to be able to, in an approachable and straightforward way, encapsulate a piece of subject matter the university offers in an Instagram post and have students really get something out of that.” 

Delivering the right messages on the right channels has also been helpful as a recruitment tool for new students. “Even if you don’t end up attending, we are still seen as a thought leader helping develop a new interest or look more closely at certain programs than you might have before. We’ve been able to evolve our content while keeping it fun and relatable, and that has strengthened our influence as a resource for prospective students.”

Customer:

University

Industry:

Higher Education

Company Size:

54,000+ students enrolled annually and 2,600 instructional faculty members

Location:

West Coast, United States

Products Featured:

Modern Research

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