Why it’s important to share your news via social media

More proof that social media is altering the way news is consumed and distributed: A recent study of news consumption trends from the Pew Internet and American Life Project points to the growing socialization of news content.

For people under 30, digital — and social — is the preferred method to share and get news content, according to the Pew study, which says that one-third of people under 30 get their news from social networks. A slightly higher percentage of that age group (34 percent) watched TV news, but only 13 percent read print or digital newspaper content.

Translate this to the higher education sphere. All colleges and universities are media organizations to some degree. Some institutions are more sophisticated than others, but we all generate tons of content, and we push it out through newsletters, alumni publications, our official websites and our social media platforms, to name a few. Since one-third of the under-30 demographic gets their news from social media, it stands to reason that at least that proportion of our under-30 stakeholders — young alumni, current and prospective students, younger faculty and staff — will follow suit. In fact, it’s a good bet that an even greater proportion of the under-30 people connected to higher ed institutions use social media to get their news.

How are we taking advantage of social media to share our news?

Are we leveraging our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn sites to distribute news from our university?

News-sharing should be a key component of our digital content and connection strategy. Let’s not toss out the good ol’ alumni magazine yet, but let’s think about how alumni news could — and should — be shared via social media to meet the preferences of that under-30 group of alumni. Let’s think about how to reuse content from the employee e-newsletter to communicate with our younger faculty and staff. Let’s remind ourselves that students don’t check email as often as they check their social media accounts.

Let’s start thinking about social media as more than a marketing channel. Let’s look at it as a news distribution channel as well.

Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

6 thoughts on “Why it’s important to share your news via social media”

  1. I think this is so important. I’ve just started managing our university’s SM platforms and I’m trying to strike a balance between marketing and news while making it all engaging. This hasn’t been easy, and with things like EdgeRank helping/hurting our reach and what gets seen, I’ve had trouble finding a groove in how to do it all effectively. We have lots of news – some isn’t very exciting – but I get ‘encouraged’ to share it nonetheless. No matter how I frame it, it’s not very popular, it doesn’t get shared and thus hurts our rankings. I’m sort of ranting here [sorry!] but I agree with what you’re saying, I just need to keep working at finding ways to get our news out there and reaching the people it needs to reach (oh, and without doing ‘promoted posts.’ Thanks, Facebook.)

    1. @msteverb – Yes, it can be a challenge to determine what news is worth sharing with your social media audiences. Also important is how you share it. For instance, rather than pushing news releases out via RSS, which can appear stale and even robotic, consider recasting the news headline for your social media audiences. Instead of pushing out a standard news release headline like, “Civil Engineering Chair to Become Dean of Engineering,” followed by the link to your news story, you might consider: “Congrats to Prof. Susan Jones, our new dean of engineering!” followed by the link.

      My advice would be to be selective about what news you share. What I’ve found is that social media audiences like to associate with cool stuff and bragworthy information from their universities. They also like to feel like they’re in the know, so maybe you should consider posting some upcoming news once in awhile (i.e., a Twitter or Facebook post encouraging people to watch for a special announcement about whatever topic you’re about to announce). Traditional PR and news bureau types may not like that approach (I know, for I once was one of them) but with the rapid pace of information-sharing online these days, it’s important to get the word out quickly.

  2. Andrew, I’m totally on-board. Especially since a lot of our news is better marketing than our actual marketing…if that makes sense. Sometimes I feel guilty though, knowing I’m ignoring the real power of social when treating it like this 1-to-many news channel, but not exactly sure how to leverage it.

    1. Eric – I know what you mean, but I think there’s a way to share news so that it isn’t completely push, push, push, or to mix it selectively with the social interaction. When you think about it, sharing news is a social activity. News tidbits, like gossip, can be the subject of water-cooler conversation. So why couldn’t it be a conversation starter in the social sphere?

      I think one key is that we be selective about the types of news we share via social. We don’t necessarily have to shove every news release out there.

      I also agree with your point that “a lot of our news is better marketing than our actual marketing.” Especially if the news is about your school and coming from a third-party news organization. But still, news releases generated by your school can also contain powerful, positive messages that complement marketing and branding efforts.

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