The Amsterdammer talked to the UvA Social Media team to find out what goes on behind-the-scenes the official social media accounts and how they maintain intrigue towards them.
March 19, 2019
So far, UvA is present on five social media platforms: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Seven women are responsible of the accounts, all full-time employees at the UvA Communication Offices.
Ari is the head of social media team, in charge of everything. Content is mostly created by the other six, each of whom is also part of another team. Kim works with the Press Office, Lea is from the Alumni Office, Nina May is part of both the Web Team and Press Office, Suzan is from the Internal Communications Team, Lisa works in Marketing and Denise is part of the Web and Editorial Team.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, they meet to plan and decide the upcoming content. The ideas usually come from emails received from students and colleagues. In addition, they check information published by the faculties, student service center and other websites. And finally, the team looks for inspiration on other channels.
“We also follow other universities; we like to grow constantly, we want to learn and develop and improve,” Denise explains.
As these are university accounts, all the materials published are related to life at the UvA. The team normally creates material on their own. They take photos and make videos. But they also use a hashtag, #UvA_Amsterdam, to find great user-generated content. “Our big focus is to share UvA experiences, for students, for staff, for alumni, for people living in Amsterdam, for prospective students, [and] help them to know what it is like to be part of UvA. And that’s why we like to share user-generated content as well because that way we allow people to see through the eyes of students and not just through our eyes,” says Denise.
Since last year, the University of Amsterdam’s social media performance has grown rapidly. The team attributes this to its new structure. Until last year, the entire social media presence was only run by two people managing these accounts as their part-time jobs. More people, and better resources, have helped to improve the content. But time is still a big issue. Denise considers time to be the biggest challenge for the team. “There is [never] enough time to make the content as good as you want. We had so many ideas and there are still so many ideas that we cannot do yet because of time. We would like to be able to make more content and more professionalized. And we would love to be able to engage even more with people. But there is only so much time we have.”
“We can see our followers are growing, and our engagement is increasing. I think on every aspect, we are growing. And on every channel, our engagement rate is quite high. It is higher than most of other organizations of our type,” Nina May said. The rest of the team is similarly satisfied with the performance of these social media accounts. “We are actually very excited by the changes we’ve seen in the last year. Our engagement is quite high; it’s about double that of universities worldwide. Compared to the average university, we do quite well. And we love seeing that growth. I think what’s important for us is not necessarily how high the numbers are. But […] we see development.” Denise agrees.
Each platform has its own focus, but integration is always taken into consideration in the strategy. “There are certain specific focus areas per channel. But we try to make sure every channel includes something for everyone,” Denise says.
Instagram is the youngest of the UvA social media platforms. It reached 20,000 followers on February 1. Together with Facebook, the Instagram presence targets students, prospective students and staff.
Twitter, the oldest of the UvA social media accounts, shifts from part of the press office to a social channel mainly for broader content. Therefore, most posts are in Dutch. But with more international students, it is changing, and more posts are being published in English.
LinkedIn focuses in particular on alumni. “LinkedIn has a large number of alumni. It’s still got students and staff, but the primary focus there is often alumni,” explains Denise. YouTube is still in the works. “We are working on a strategy for YouTube and LinkedIn, and are looking into the best way to use these channels for the UvA.” adds Nina May.
Disclaimer: Certain quotes were edited for clarity after the interview and last names were deleted upon requests by the interviewees.