Hashtag Marketing Tips for Higher Education

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 at 9:00am

Post by Marketing Intern Alexandra Burdette

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Colleges and universities looking to bridge the social media gap between them and their students are increasingly exploring hashtag marketing. Hashtags are a great way to market to both current and prospective students as well as to alumni. Hashtag marketing strategies are something worth looking into in order to properly market your campaigns and to drive engagement with your target audience through the effective use of hashtags.

A trending hashtag is one that is very popular at that given time. Taking advantage of your university’s time in the social media limelight can help get your organization’s content seen by a larger audience. The unfortunate side of trending hashtags is that they are a short-lived, but nonetheless, they are very effective in generating traffic and followers to your university's website and social media accounts.

Content hashtags are any non-branded, everyday hashtags that you can use in your post. Content hashtags can help you identify social media conversations relevant to your school and students. An example of using content hashtags in the university setting would be something like, “#gameday” for sports related posts, or “#studying” for finals related posts. These hashtags will certainly not get you as much traffic as a trending hashtag, but they will increase your potential traffic throughout a much larger market. If you decide to use a content hashtag, be sure to check its activity before posting. Content hashtags are not specific to any certain person, place, or thing, so you will want to make sure that the content hashtag you choose will represent your university in the best way possible.

Brand and campaign hashtags are ones you make specifically for your brand or, in this case, your university. You can have hashtags for the university as a whole, advertising on campus, or even have them be specific to a certain club, group or college within the university. Whether you use a unique hashtag for a niche market or a simple hashtag for a more universal market, brand hashtags will help you reach your defined target audience. These brand hashtags will also unite brand advocates.

Campaign hashtags are specific to a particular campaign within your university.  For example, if you are having a guest speaker at the school, using a campaign specific hashtag would be an easy and effective way to promote the event throughout campus. The more students use your campaign hashtag, the wider the reach of your post, and in turn, the greater attendance of the event will be.  

The best way to create an effective hashtag for your brand or campaign is to do so through hashtag testing. Start by using multiple hashtag ideas on different social media channels. Once you have put all of your test hashtags into the market, research which one got the most shares, uses, and reposts. Testing hashtags will get you the best results and takes away the pressure of finding the right hashtag for your campaign.

Hashtags, whether they be trending, content, or brand and campaign, can be simple or creative and still be effective. Here are a few ways of getting involved with your students through hashtag marketing:

Move-In Day hashtags

This will help you to see what to expect with the newest students on campus, what they like, and where they will be hanging out, which will provide you with excellent information on how to most effectively communicate with them in the future.

Game day hashtags 

Does your university have a large sports following? What a great opportunity to unite students, alumni, and fans alike. This type of hashtag campaign has the potential to reach multiple groups of people and could possibly trend depending on the nature of the game.

Events around campus hashtags 

Did someone say #pizzainthequad? This is a powerful way to utilize word of mouth advertising for current and future events. All it takes is one student to post about being at the event and the others will know to attend in the future.

Finals week hashtag 

Finals week is a stressful time for all students. Creating a finals week hashtag specific to your university will encourage students to interact with each other and your organization during the busy time. You can even advertise group study sessions and extended library hours this way.

Graduation hashtags 

On such an important day, it seems only right to unite students one last time in celebration of their new alma mater.

Be on the lookout for future hashtag marketing posts where we will discuss how to research the right hashtag for your university as well as how to advertise your hashtags on campus.

Over to you. What are some other ideas on how universities can leverage hashtags?

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