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LinkedIn recently launched a new product for higher education, University Pages.  I was very excited to a be a part of the beta test of this product at my university, and I think this page will be an important part of any institution’s social media strategy going forward.  Here’s why.

LinkedIn is widely known as the premiere destination for professional social networking.  I think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, Pinterest and the like can be valuable tools to communicate and engage, but LinkedIn has a sophistication and reputation that makes it ripe for learning.  University Pages are being billed as the new central hub for an institution on LinkedIn, and all students and alumni “auto-follow” your institution’s page.  That means, virtually overnight, you may have thousands of followers on a network where professional development is the center of attention.

In addition, LinkedIn has updated its terms of service so that students ages 13 and up can join the network (as of September 12, 2013).  Translation: high school students can now join LinkedIn.  That’s important to note because LinkedIn’s University Pages allow easy access for LinkedIn users to get to the Alumni tool for any institution, effectively giving high school students a view into the long-term career outcomes of any school.  This information, coupled with an institution says and does on the network, could be vital in the admissions decision-making process for students and families.

How do we utilize this new page to its full potential?  Things are just getting started with University Pages, but here are my top 3 ideas:

1.) Involve the right internal stakeholders to build out a strategy.  This will differ by institution, but I think colleagues in areas like alumni relations, university communication, admissions and career services are key.  Alumni relations professionals are likely already deeply involved in using LinkedIn and would be helpful to know what engages alums.  University communications team members likely already have some great content that can be used to consistently populate the page.  Nobody at your institution will know prospective high school students like your admissions representatives.  And, finally, career services professionals might be the most active in engaging current students on LinkedIn.  I think this team of 4 would be a good place to begin.

2.) Consider posting outcome-oriented content on your page.  Successful student and alumni stories would be great updates for a page like this.  It’s important to differentiate posts on a LinkedIn page from those on a Facebook page.  While some content could be appropriate for both networks, users likely come to these networks with different intentions.  University Pages also allow administrators to “target” their updates, meaning they can create a post and have it appear in only the home feed for their institutions alumni or students, for example.

3.) Differentiate between your institution’s LinkedIn Group & Company Page.  Your institution may have a LinkedIn group that is used widely by members of your community.  This can still be a key communication vehicle, but your University Page may become a better place for ongoing announcements and updates, as it is a public page with aforementioned “targeted” updates.  I think it’s a good idea to transition the broadcast messaging talk out of groups (carefully, of course) in order to allow the groups to be a place for true discussion among members.  Company Pages have always been intended to be the method for organizations to attract your workforce, and so perhaps an institution’s Company Page can shift in that direction now.

social @ edu readers, have you turned on your LinkedIn University Page yet?  How are you planning to use it going forward?  I’d love to get a discussion going about how we can all make the most of this opportunity on social media.

By Kevin

Photo credit: Screenshot of university.linkedin.com

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