5 Tips to Create Your Higher Ed Social Media Strategy

Find your content pillars & watch Tiktoks

Northern Arizona University
6 min readDec 7, 2022


As members of the higher ed community — it’s crucial for us to meet our students where they are. Where can we find our students?

Social media. Whether on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Tiktok — students are on social to connect with each other and stay up to date on all things new.

If you’re involved in social media, here’s some questions to ask yourself before we close out the year.

  • Does my area have a social media strategy in place?
  • Does our social media strategy include plans for different platforms?
  • Do we have a thematic content plan to share with the team?

If you’re thinking, I barely have enough time to do my job let alone social media — it’s ok.

We’re here to share tips for what you can do when you might not have the time or resources.

Some work up front can go a long way and make content execution easier than you may think.

Content Strategy: Put It in Place

According to higher ed brand strategist Corynn Meyers, what’s missing from social media across higher ed is a clear content strategy.

“The biggest symptom of a missing content strategy is when platforms publish random acts of content.”

While it might seem like posting anything anytime is better than weeks of posting nothing — the truth is that this aim-for-the-best strategy is inefficient, ineffective, and increases the work load for individual contributors.

Creating a content strategy is less taxing than you might think. If you put in the time up front to hone in on your department’s mission with social media — the results are well worth it. You’ll save time AND gain traction with your social media accounts.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Do you know NAU’s strategic goals?
  • Can you articulate your area’s goals?
  • How can you translate NAU’s strategic goals through the lens of your area?

Consider the following to get help put your content strategy into place.

Step 1: Create Content Pillars

Pillars are themes that you would organize content under. They should be moveable and adjustable.

With your team, identify 5 themes (pillars) that showcase your area’s strategic initiatives/goals.

NAU Social’s content pillars include:

  • Campus news and information
  • Lumberjack pride
  • Lumberjack Country
  • Student belonging & connection
  • Student life & tips

Step 2: Consider Episodic Content

Episodic content is content you’re producing on a regular basis, similar to Netflix series. Think of a single piece of content as part of a larger show.

Look at the pillars you and your team decided on and brainstorm what kind of content you will produce. What would make a great series, something to feature regularly?

Having a regular feature helps teams plan and produce content efficiently, while keeping followers engaged and interested.

What are some ways to create episodic content? Let’s take another look at NAU Social’s content pillars + content series:

Campus news and information- Content shared in real time as it happens

  • Instagram Story series
  • #CampusHappenings tweets

Lumberjack pride — Content that spotlights our Lumberjacks and reinforces brand affinity

  • Lumberjack Spotlights
  • Pets of NAU
  • Professor spotlights

Lumberjack Country — Content that showcases NAU’s mountain campus and statewide locations

  • Flagstaff happenings
  • Tour Tuesday
  • Trivia Tuesday
  • Hashtags that reinforce our Only at NAU advantage: #MyNAUview, #ThisisLumberjackCountry, #NAUOutdoors, #NAUtiful

Student belonging & connection- Content to support student recruitment, success and retention

  • Instagram Story: My Life in 5 Student Takeovers
  • Student POVs
  • AskNAU with True Blue Ambassadors and Peer Mentors
  • Club takeovers

Student life / tips: Content to support student success and wellbeing

  • Self Care Sunday
  • Jacks in the Kitchen
  • Wellness Wednesday
  • Come with Me/POV Reels and Tiktoks
  • BookToks

Step 3: Align the Pillars Through Different Platforms

You already know you should be on multiple social media platforms to expand your reach and connect with different audiences.

While it may be easy (and tempting) to do a one post fits all — this will get you nowhere. Each platform can have similar messaging — but each message should be created to fit the tone of the respective platform.


With your team, think about how you can take your content and apply it to your respective channels.

(Look at what is currently trending — especially if you’re planning a Tiktok or Reel).

Brainstorm on how these trends apply to your department and what you’re trying to do. How can you translate your message through these trends to your specific audience?

Here’s how NAU Social spreads out our content

  • Campus news and information: CampusHappenings (Insta story), events, news, initiatives — Instagram and Twitter
  • Lumberjack pride: Lumberjack Spotlights, Pets of NAU, professor spotlights — all on Instagram / athletic coverage: Instagram and TikTok
  • Lumberjack Country: #FlagstaffHappenings on Twitter, blog posts, Pinterest, reels and TikTok
  • Student belonging & connection: My Life in 5 Insta story, student POV TikToks, AskNAU, club takeovers — Insta stories)
  • Student life / tips (Jacks in the Kitchen on TikTok, Wellness Wednesday on Twitter and Insta, BookToks and book blogs)

Step 4: Establish a Measurement System

It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t know what results are coming from your efforts.

Measuring your results takes some thought and effort up front, and ultimately help you to determine how to adjust your strategy.

First, think about who needs to see your metrics. What do different levels of leadership in your department need to see?

Then you can prepare your reporting for what people really need to know.

For example, here are the metrics that matter to us for Instagram and TikTok:

  • Insta: saves and shares
  • TikTok : shares, comments and video views

Don’t forget to also look beyond your digital analytics. Can you find out how many individuals engaged with your department or an initiative you promoted because of your content?

Highlight human connections and qualitative feedback in reporting.

Show how your content is helping across campus.

Step 5: Get on the Student Level

Whether you like it or not, TikTok is hot among college students. The struggle is that it might not be the primary app for the administrators creating and managing social media content in higher ed.

Higher ed opportunity: Get on Tiktok and see how others are taking academic information and sharing it in a relateable manner — think the Hamilton effect.

TikTok is a great platform to take something very niche and dial it down even further. For example, a professor can zero in on a specific topic within their whole syllabus and show one experiment of a theory. This type of content performs well. In any case, don’t overcomplicate or dilute the message. Be focused and concise.

If you have student workers in your department, put TikTok content creation in their hands.

Check out NAU Advising

Students relate to and understand the audience — they can show students having a student experience on campus.

@nau_clinelibrary’s Tiktoks

“Students hold social currency that admin staff won’t have — peer-to-peer connection.” — Corryn Myers

Creating a content strategy might seem overwhelming if you have a small team, but taking the time to plan it out will save you time in the long run and get you better results.

Remember, NAU Social is here to help! Email us at nausocial@gmail.com to set up a consultation.



Northern Arizona University

It’s always a great day to be a Lumberjack! Join the conversation and share your #NAU story.