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Amplifying Student Voices on TikTok with Morgan Goodwill

TikTok is the platform of choice for many of today’s prospective students, but consistently executing relevant and engaging content is a challenge many colleges and universities are still trying to overcome.

In this episode, you’ll hear from Morgan Goodwill, social media manager and producer at Flagler College, and someone who has seemingly cracked the code on TikTok content.

We discuss:

  • Details on how Flagler College’s marketing team works with student creators to generate 80% of their TikTok content
  • Why quality over quantity and audience over platform is a critical social media success
  • Morgan’s favorite tactic for increasing the reach of important but less engaging institutional content, and
  • Some of Flagler’s TikTok home runs, surprising flops, and the lessons she learned from them.

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Transcript

Jarrett Smith:
You are listening to the Higher Ed Marketing Lab. I’m your host, Jarrett Smith. Welcome to the Higher Ed Marketing Lab where each episode we engage with some of the brightest minds in higher education and the broader world of marketing to uncover actionable insights you can use to level up your school’s marketing and enrollment performance. TikTok is a platform of choice for many of today’s prospective students, but consistently executing relevant and engaging content is a challenge many colleges and universities are still trying to overcome. In this episode, you’ll hear from Morgan Goodwill, social media manager and producer at Flagler College and someone who seemingly has cracked the code on TikTok content.
We discuss details on how Flagler College’s marketing team works with student creators to generate 80% of their TikTok content, why quality over quantity and audience over platform are critical elements of social media success, Morgan’s favorite tactic for increasing the reach of important but less engaging institutional content and some of Flagler’s TikTok home runs, surprising flops and the lessons she learned from both of them. Whether you’re personally responsible for generating social content for your institution or just work with someone who does, you won’t want to miss this episode. So without further ado, here’s my conversation with Morgan Goodwill. Well, Morgan, welcome to the show.

Morgan Goodwill:
Awesome. Thank you so much. I’m really excited to be here.

Jarrett Smith:
I am too. I’m excited to learn from you about social media in general, TikTok specifically. And you’ve done such a fantastic job with Flagler College’s, social media channels, all the places where you are, and so I’m just excited to learn from somebody who’s down in the weeds doing it every day. I think before we jump into that, I would just love to get a quick snapshot of how did you arrive in your role as social media manager. I’m sure probably when you were 10 years old, it wasn’t a job that you had picked out, but it’s where you are now and you’re really great at it. So what’s your story?

Morgan Goodwill:
So I actually did not imagine myself in social media. I think it’s, like you said, it’s probably the last place you picture yourself. And so when I had graduated from college, which I studied in strategic communication, I ended up taking an admissions’ counselor role. And you’re probably like, “Well, how did you get from admissions counselor to social?” Well, I had originally done some of the social media for the admissions at the institution I was at, and I realized that I really liked it and I wanted to do more of it, and I really craved that. And so I needed to figure out how to get my foot in the door.
And so at Flagler College there was an assistant position open and that was for our vice president of marketing and communication. And so I was like, “Well, I got to take what I can get, so let me just go in there. I’ll see what I can do, see what I can learn.” And it was really exciting because once I started, started learning a little bit more from the social media manager in that position, and then eventually she left and she recommended me for the role because I had been shadowing her and all of that. And I took on the role, we did a trial period and they were happy with what I did, which was great for having a little bit of knowledge to social and now having to a lot more knowledge of social and getting used to it.
And so it was definitely a little bit of twists and turns, but that’s how I ended up here, which is a little bit different from your typical of exiting college now and then just going into a social media role.

Jarrett Smith:
And just to paint the picture for everybody of sort of the social media presence that Flagler College has, what platforms are you on? Can you give us a sense of how often you guys are publishing new content?

Morgan Goodwill:
Of course. So for us as an institution, we are on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn. We’re also on X Rest in peace Twitter, and we are also on YouTube as well. And we do have a presence on Pinterest a little bit, but our main channels that we focus on for our prospective student and current student audience is going to be TikTok and Instagram. When we’re looking at posting and all of that, we really focus on the quality of our content. So posting every day is not a very big thing for us. It’s more of three to four times a week and then really focusing on engagement with our audience and engaging with those who are engaged with our posts, our stories, everything that you can think of when it comes to what you’re posting on Instagram and TikTok.

Jarrett Smith:
And of course TikTok is the platform du jour. It’s kind of the IT platform. Those that are on it and understand it tend to love it. Those of us like me who are probably I guess elder millennials who are like, “I don’t know, I think I get it. I want to get it, but I might’ve aged out of this.” I think everybody knows it’s a hugely important platform during the college search. Could you tell us how you see the role of TikTok during a student’s college search? What sorts of things are happening there? And maybe you might compare and contrast that to other more familiar platforms we know to help us illuminate the differences a little bit.

Morgan Goodwill:
So when you’re looking at TikTok originally it feels like a beast. You don’t know what you’re going to get on it. You don’t know what you’re searching for half the time. You just are really trying to get used to the app. But when you’re really diving into it, and once you have an understanding of how it works, you start to notice that it really starts curating to your interest and what you’re looking for and it really focuses on your user profile that you’re creating for it. TikTok is very much so SEO based and for search engine optimization. And so something that we’ve noticed is as you’re researching things, as you’re looking things up on TikTok, it’s going to start pushing information towards you.
And so with your current student audience or your prospective student audience, a lot of the times they’re looking up things about college. So whether that’s the college experience look like. College tours, they’re looking those up. They are looking up where they can go for spring break, even if they’re just in high school. And sometimes things that are surrounding your college area are going to populate for that too. And so really taking advantage of that. And something very similar to TikTok is going to be YouTube. People go to YouTube to research things, whether it’s a how-to, a DIY, a campus tour, if you’re keeping it within the higher ed realm.
It might even be how to submit your college application or how to write your college essay. And so kind of figuring out the familiarity with TikTok if you aren’t as familiar with it, think about how you research or how you utilize YouTube at the moment. Another portion of that is utilizing the creator platform that’s within TikTok, so figuring out what your top creators are, and that might be students and seeing what they’re doing and how you can leverage that too. And that’s going to be a little bit more similar to your Instagram foundation that you’re creating.
So that’s kind of an idea of what we’re looking at when we’re looking at TikTok from a higher ed perspective is really curating your content to hop into the for you pages for those incoming students.

Jarrett Smith:
How would you describe the TikTok sort of vibe or community? I feel like every social media platform has its own kind of personality. It’s like a little neighborhood that’s a little different from the others. If you were describing TikTok for us, for those who aren’t heavy users, how would you describe that neighborhood?

Morgan Goodwill:
So TikTok is the wild, wild west in some capacity because there’s a little bit of something for everyone and there’s such a broad reach, but it also really gives you the opportunity to find your people. And so it provides niche communities. So for example, there is book talk. So if you’re into fantasies, into romance novels, there’s going to be specific area for you. If you want to learn more about how to live a green and healthy lifestyle, there’s going to be specific people for you. And so it really just allows you to find your people and find a sense of a community.
So you actually have little neighborhoods within neighborhoods and it’s going to be mainly video-focused. And so you also have to get used to that vertical video realm, which we’ve only just gotten used to over the past couple years. So that’s kind of what you’re looking at with TikTok, especially if you’re trying to get used to it and learning how to utilize the platform or even make content for yourself on the platform.

Jarrett Smith:
What you say really rings true. I’ve been using TikTok for a few years now and the algorithm is so astute. I think it kind of zero in on your interest, but the diversity of content that you encounter is startling. There’s sort of the fun dance videos that I think everybody… That’s how it kind of hooked me. I think I was at a higher ed marketing conference years ago and they were like, “Our university did this. Here’s the latest trend we’re falling.” But then you get on there and it’s like here’s this wildly entertaining content on forging for wild mushrooms.
Here’s content on woodworking and just the range of people that are there and some of the content is surprisingly practical and useful in some ways. So it has some of that utility of YouTube, kind of like what you were saying. You can find that if that’s what you’re looking for.

Morgan Goodwill:
And it also just allows you to…. I look at TikTok as something that you’re figuring out how to connect with your audience, and so you’re figuring out what you’re doing and who that resonates with. And that’s why I say it’s how you find your people. And then you also have the aspects too of how you can teach someone something new. So you also might end up on foraging for mushrooms and you’ve never foraged for mushrooms in your life, but now you’re really interested in it. So it’s also a great way to learn about other perspectives and learn about what else is going on with people from different worlds.

Jarrett Smith:
So you are in your role trying to reach perspective and current students on that channel, and that’s a tricky audience. They’re going to sniff out… Their BS meter is super high. So I’m kind of curious, what have you learned in managing these accounts? Really clicks on TikTok, what doesn’t click on TikTok? Just what can you share with us?

Morgan Goodwill:
So to start off higher ed industry, the thing that’s so different about us is you have direct access to your audience. So you are living and breathing the same air as the same students that you’re trying to get in. And the only time that might not happen is if you hit a generational shift. And so something that we’ve really leveraged is using student content creators to create the content that you see on TikTok for us. If you go on our profile, you’re going to notice a very young and vibrant feeling to a lot of our content. And that is because the student point of view and the student touch is really important to me and that is how we get followers in the door.
That’s how we get people looking at our content and that’s how we eventually hopefully lead people to apply. And this is not any knock on any, because a lot of social media managers are a lot older than some of the students. I am a generation away from our students. And so the content that I push out there only gets about a third of the engagement compared to what our students put out there organically. And so really being able to leverage that and utilize that because they know the trends that they’re looking at, which are what our prospective students are looking at. They are more up to date because they have the time to be on their phones a little bit more than I am able to.
And so allowing the students to have that little touch on the content that we’re pushing out has been really important. And it’s also really shown that when you’re allowing your audience to control a little bit of the content, it’s going to be more relatable for the audience you want to continue to bring in.

Jarrett Smith:
And such an important point for anybody in a marketing role to recognize you are not your target audience. And I heard somebody wisely say, “Higher ed marketing is like a 50-year-old telling a 40-year-old telling a 30-year-old how to market to a 16-year-old or 17-year-old. So I think it’s such an important point. If you’re looking at sort of the pie chart of how much of your content comes from, say you and institution staff versus content generated by student creators, what’s that split look like?

Morgan Goodwill:
So that for us, I would say our students make about 80% of our content and we probably only make about 20%. So kind of a method that we follow, and this goes for all of our social media channels and it’s very much so proven with TikTok to work is we do audience first, platform second. And so we know that our prospective students and current students are on TikTok, and so we need to curate content that is for them and then we figure out the type of content that’s going to do well on that platform. And so that is how we’ve been able to keep on top of all of that.
We also do work with the students to look at banking some of the content for us, so that might be some trending things. We also try to sprinkle in some important stuff that the institution really needs us to push out as well. So that might be application dates, a how-to video, but we try to pair that with a trending video or do some reactive marketing. Just swing our analytics back up so that way those lower performing videos or TikToks still get pushed onto those for you pages of the people following us or people who may be interested in the same topics.

Jarrett Smith:
So putting a little bit of sugar with the medicine. So to speak.

Morgan Goodwill:
Exactly.

Jarrett Smith:
So I have so many questions about using student creators. I feel like every time I go to AMA higher ed, I see some really interesting examples of institutions that are using student creators. And there’s a lot of operational details I think that go into that to pull that off correctly. And so it’s mostly one or two people at front of the room talking and everybody else furiously scribbling notes while we’re all trying to figure it out. I think you’ve cracked the code on this. So could you maybe start by taking us through the typical process? What does that workflow look like going from concept all the way through actually hitting publish on a post?
And since most of your content is student created, kind walk us through how you’re engaging with students along that way and where they fit in and all of that.

Morgan Goodwill:
So it starts with knowing what your role is as a social media manager, because every social media manager’s position is going to look different. And so specifically at Flagler, my role is that social media strategy and that content strategy. And if you don’t have background in admissions, I would really encourage to sit down with an admissions counselor or talk to the enrollment office because really understanding that cycle of prospective students and where they are is going to influence a little bit of your social strategy and your content strategy.
So when I’m looking at where we’re going to be in the cycle a month from now or two months from now, I think about what type of content or what information needs to be pushed out and where that needs to be pushed out. And so that’s the initial point. So that’s point A for us. After that, we go through some roundtables as a marketing team. So we look at what can we push out for social, what can we push out for writing, whatever that may be, and see how we can pair stuff together. So also having that collaboration factor with the rest of your marketing division is going to be important because you can create probably 50 ideas on your own, but you can create 200 wonderful ideas with other people.
So once we kind of have an understanding of that and the type of content we want to push out or the type of messages we want to get across, I bring it to my interns, my work study students. And what we’ve created at Flagler is basically an in-house agency that is an extension of the marketing and communication division, and that includes content creators for social. It includes designers, videographers, photographers, so a little bit of everything for that. But where our content creators come in for social media, sitting down with them and letting them brainstorm or bringing my ideas to them and letting me tell them if they suck or if they might be really great and letting them be honest with that.
And so I meet with them at least once a week. That’s really important because it gives you an idea of what their workload is because at the end of the day, they’re still students. But also it allows us to get a back and forth because students have a very different idea of what’s going to do well. And so it’s also finding the balance of what’s appropriate for the institution versus what’s still going to get engagement and people through the door. After I meet with them, I really just let them go with it and I let them figure out what’s going to work best.
I let them come up with as many ideas as they want and let them start creating. And for us specifically, our students do have access to our TikTok, but they aren’t just allowed to post nilly-willy whenever they want. And so we have an approval process, so it’s either texting me and screen recording the TikTok that they’ve created or it’s waiting until our next weekly meeting to show me what they’ve created to get the thumbs up. They also are allowed to craft the captions, but those still need approval as well. And then once they get the green light, they are able to post and they are in charge of our TikTok content calendar too.
So there’s a lot of professional development that they get, but also there’s a lot of trust with that. I know that can be a little scary, allowing students to have access to any of your platforms. And so we also do confidentiality contracts, all of that stuff. And we do get in the habit of switching out our passwords at least every two months, all of that. Just to make sure that we’re staying up to date with that too, and being as careful as we can with our social media platforms.

Jarrett Smith:
So I imagine that that is a tremendous amount of trust you’re instilling in these students. And so I imagine selecting the right students is really important that are not only going to bring great ideas, but also be responsible and trustworthy. How do you select and prepare students to productively have such an engaged role?

Morgan Goodwill:
For us specifically, it’s a lot of going into classrooms and speaking when we have the time, but I also do set up interviews. If someone’s interested in social, I don’t just give the stamp of approval, they can’t just come in. I sit down with them and I talk with them and I learn about their experience. And our students that do the best are usually the students that see themselves having a future in social media. And so those are the students that I really rely on and I typically connect with the most. And so we do have a really great interview process, so that’s asking them questions about why are they interested in social media and why do they want to work for the college?
And just those typical things. And so thinking about what I was asked when I was coming into these different roles, or even when I was doing internships is how we modeled those interviews. We also do have leadership teams or a leadership team for our specific areas in the agency. And so I have a student who’s been with me for about two years now, and she serves as our lead social media coordinator for our agency. So that also helps too. The longer that they’ve been with me, the longer they’ve been making content with me and also depending on where their interests are, the more trust that’s being given and the more opportunity they have to work with us.
So that’s kind of how we leverage it. But those interviews are definitely important. I also always try to ask for a portfolio if your student has one available. That really gives you an idea if they’re up-to-date on trends, if they’re interested in social, if they’ve even created stuff on their personal accounts that they’re really proud of, and that really shows you how interested they are across the board.

Jarrett Smith:
Good deal. So I’m curious about collaborating with students, I think, and just when you’re having these meetings where you’re talking about ideas, what potentially could go on to an institution account. I imagine there are times where it’s just like, “No, hard no, we’re not doing that.” But I’m wondering, your sort of ideation meetings, are they pretty freewheeling? Is there a particular framework or sort of agenda that you follow? How have you found to best run those kinds of collab sessions?

Morgan Goodwill:
So I think it’s a good idea to have a mix of both. So that’s how we run ours. We have usually a typical agenda set and it goes over where we are on the cycle. So they’re learning the cycle with me as we’re going through it and the type of information that we really need to push out as an institution. So they take that information and we kind of work on what ideas will fit with that, the type of content that’s feasible within our means. And then the other portion of that meeting is, “Okay, what is trending? What is going on in the digital world? What is happening marketing wise that we think can really fit for us?”
There are times where there is a very heavy hammered no. And so also knowing that the students that are working with you, treating them as professional. So instead of just saying, “No, we can’t do that.” Really going through the process of, “We can’t do that. This is why, but how can we take this and make it our own and it might still fit what’s trending or what’s going on.” And so having that balance of you guys are free to do whatever you want to a certain extent with the stamp of approval, but also these are heavy hitters that we have to make sure that we create this month or we create this week are really important.
And so as we’ve gone through and set these agenda items, they also start to learn, “Okay, these are the things that we really need to make sure that we do, and these are the things that when we have time, we make sure we squeeze them in.” So definitely having that balance has been really important.

Jarrett Smith:
Morgan, that sounds like such great professional development for these students. I mean, what you’re describing is very much like what you and I would do on a marketing team. As an agency, there’s always mandatories and priorities and constraints that you have to work around. Those constraints oftentimes fuel the creative process. And you’re like, “Okay, here’s our boundaries. We’ve got to make it work within these boundaries.” What great problem solving they have to do as part of that.

Morgan Goodwill:
Exactly. And I guess the model is, I’ll never forget it. This was a very big thing when they first talked about it. Google said that they will sit people down in a room and you can just throw stuff at a board and no idea is a bad idea. And so I really take that with me wherever I go. And that’s a good model that I’ve utilized, and it really allows us to come up with the best ideas. And also, even though we’re not all writers for a movie or writers for a TV show, picturing what a writing room is like because a writing room, you’re just throwing idea after idea and seeing what sticks to the wall.
And so really just allowing that and treating them the way that you mentioned that you and I would sit down and work at a problem is really the best way for them to learn, but also the best way that you’re going to get content created or content ideas flowing.

Jarrett Smith:
I’m wondering if you could elaborate just a little bit more on striking that right balance between authentic content that’s coming from students that’s going to engage and be relevant on the platform, but also right for the institution. And how do you think about those boundaries and how do you communicate those to students and just say a little bit more about that if you could.

Morgan Goodwill:
So a prime example is when there were things going on in England when Queen Elizabeth had passed. And there were a lot of TikToks from an American point of view that were being pushed out that for us as an institution is not in the best light and we have international students who are from the UK, we have potential donors that might be connected to the UK, anything that could be a potential there. And so there was a time we were sitting down and the students were pitching these ideas and were showing me some of the TikToks that were going out and what it looked like. And so one portion of it is processing with them and saying, “Okay, well what do you find interesting about this? Why is it funny?”
And so kind of setting up a checklist for yourself of, “Okay, it’s interesting because it has some sort of value to it and this is the value that prospective students are going to look for. Did that check off the box?” The second is if they just like it because it’s trending, then that gives us the, “Okay, it’s just trending, but it doesn’t really fit the core values of the college. It might not portray us in the best light, so that’s going to be a no.” Right? And so it’s really walking through and asking them questions as to why do you want to incorporate this? Why is it interesting? Why is it funny?
Why would this speak for Flagler College in a certain degree? And so making sure that you’re also asking them questions when they’re proposing certain ideas is really important. When you’re finding the balance too between the student ideas and the institution ideas, there are sometimes where the students are like, “This is not going to do very well.” And it’s also having them understand it might not do very well, but this is what we need to push out at the moment. So since you in your opinion, think it won’t do well, what do you think we can add? Like I mentioned before that swinging content and you mentioned adding a little bit of sugar to the medicine.
What are some other ideas you have that we can pair with this, that we can post the day before or a day after to really sweeten those analytics for us? And so it’s really making sure that you’re walking through the process with them and kind of probing those questions that you would get asked when social media managers had to create their own content. And so engaging in those questions, talking to them as if they’re professionals because they are professionals, they’re working with you and really engaging with them and having healthy discussions about that is really how you’re going to find that balance and that sweet spot overall.

Jarrett Smith:
One thing that really leaps out to me that you’re saying is you’re really bringing them alongside you as a collaborative professional and realizing that they don’t have all of your life experience. And so as a professional, and so you’re coaching them along and helping them, just pushing their thinking a little bit. That’s really what a great service to them and a really, really cool thing. Speaking of, you said sweeten the analytics, so I was like, “Oh, okay.” So that kind of takes me on to my next question, which is how are you measuring success? In what ways do you do it?
And then down in the weeds question, do you have any particular tools or platforms that you’re particularly fond of for doing it? But we could start with what are you trying to measure to sort of validate, “Hey, this is working, this isn’t working and this is worth our resources.”

Morgan Goodwill:
So when we’re looking at it, we’re really looking at obviously engagement, what’s doing really well. And when we’re looking at engagement, I specifically am looking at, “Okay, how has it been shared? Has it been sent? How has it been engaged? Has the link been copied? Has someone DMed it to their other friend?” And so really pulling that, and those are things… When we’re really looking at the prospective audience and the current audience, student wise, those are easy analytics that you can pull on Instagram and on TikTok, which is really nice.
We also have noticed, and this is kind of social across the board, unless you have something that is in that shock and awe factor. You’re not really seeing comments as much as you used to. And so really seeing, I like to call them those hidden analytics and focusing on those, what’s being sent, what’s being saved is going to be really important in our neck of the woods. We also try to look at comparison of those institutional pieces of content and looking at how that performed and setting a base level and a benchmark for that. And then what’s the base level and benchmark for our trending stuff?
Because your trending content, your reactive marketing, that’s obviously going to perform much differently than the institutional type of marketing and content that you’re pushing out. And so not just having a benchmark overall that you’re setting it for, but having specific benchmarks based on that content that you’re pushing out. When we’re looking at everything, I’m a big fan of the native analytics because you’re going to get a little bit more of the meat and potatoes when you’re diving into stuff. But for overarching analytics, Sprout Social is what we currently use and that’s our go-to, but also Hootsuite does an amazing job.
And so if your institution is able to purchase those auto-publishing softwares, those are really going to be great. Because that’s going to give you an idea of how healthy your platforms are doing across the board.

Jarrett Smith:
Speaking of as you were talking about content, some of the things that get posted about the school, it kind of reminded me. I was reviewing your TikTok the other day and I came across some content. I don’t think it was from the institution, I think it was from a student, and it was… Just so everybody knows if you don’t know Flagler College, it’s a beautiful campus. It’s rated as one of the most beautiful campuses. There’s definitely a Harry Potter vibe. It’s in an old historic hotel, the main part of the campus is beautiful and striking. But somebody had made a tour of one of the bathrooms on campus and basically the caption was something like, “Even our bathrooms are amazing.”
And you’d walk in and I’m like, “Oh God, where’s this going?” They walk in and here’s this gleaming bathroom with a fireplace. And it was like, “Okay, this is so funny.” I’m not necessarily expecting you to do anything more than laugh at that, but it was just an observation that I feel like our audience needs to know. But I guess the question I have for you is are there any posts or anything you look at like, “Man, we really nailed it with that one. I’m so proud of the work our students did, or Wow, this thing took off.” Anything you would call our attention to? Maybe it is a bathroom tour. I don’t know.

Morgan Goodwill:
So I would say… So sometimes it is just very blanket stuff. So one of the ones that did very well was Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift does very well, I think probably over…

Jarrett Smith:
Everywhere at all times right now.

Morgan Goodwill:
Everywhere in general. The Swifties are just watching. And so we did a Taylor Swift swipe through of “Your Major is a Taylor Swift Song.” And so that was something that did very well, and that was something that the students were able to create, the graphic design students had a play in that. And so they really took advantage of that and just ran with it. And you could see, and I was like, “We’re going to do something Taylor Swift related.” Their faces absolutely lit up, and that was something that did pretty well across the board. I think Taylor would be proud. We’ve also done some where we’re having a little play off of things that are going on, and the Roman Empire was a very big thing that happened two months ago.
And so if you don’t know, there was a study that came out where it said that men always think of the Roman Empire at least once a week and a certain percentage of them do. And so going around, they were like, “Well, what’s my Roman Empire? What’s your Roman Empire?” And so the students went out and interviewed students and asked them what their Roman Empire was. And the really great portion of that was you really got to see the types of students that we have here, where their interests are, where they lay. And then you also saw there was an international student who wasn’t really on the trend, but they knew of the Roman Empire, and they said, “Of course, I think of the Roman Empire every day.
It’s a part of who I am as a person.” And so it was like, “Okay, so now you have a different array of students. You can see what they’re always thinking about. You can see the fun that they have with this.” And it’s just something really interesting altogether where you really got to understand the type of campus culture that we have, which is laid back, really fun.= But then you have obviously the academic portion of it too.

Jarrett Smith:
And what a great example of finding the overlap and Venn diagrams between something that’s useful to say about the institution and relevant to prospective students and also on trend and all that. I have to admit, I was confused by the Roman Empire thing. I was seeing it pop up and I just didn’t care enough to actually trace it back. So I was like, “What is going on with the Roman Empire?” [inaudible 00:33:55] but thank you. I learned a lot. Thank you. That was very helpful. On the flip side of that coin, have you had any noteworthy content fails that you’d be willing to share with us? Anything that was just like a total flop?

Morgan Goodwill:
So for example, we try to do something for Star Wars every year for May the fourth. Our first year doing it on TikTok, it did not do very well, and that was something that we had shown the students, we had them take a look at it, we got good feedback from them. But it was something that even though it was relevant and we posted it on the day, it just did not perform the way that we expected or the way that we had hoped. And so that was something when we were diving into it, and I took a look at the analytics, and they also compared it to what did perform very well.
There was some crossover with what we could have done using a trending sound, but if you know, you are very limited with trending sounds when you have a business account. There were some hashtags that we left off of it that we could have done a little bit better with. But also realizing too that maybe our audience does not Star Wars on TikTok, and that’s just a factor. And so that was something where it was like we were really proud of it, but it didn’t do very well. And so you have to appreciate the flops because if you don’t, you’re not really going to learn from it and really see what could perform. Another example too was we tried to do something called “What’s Up Wednesday.”
We were trying to make that more of a presidential factor where the president of the college would have a little bit more of a face on social, and we shared it on Instagram, but we also shared it on TikTok and it performed a little bit better on Instagram than it did TikTok. And so when you’re looking at everything, well, how did we lay out the content? Did it really make sense? And is it going to connect with the audience? Audience first, platform second. Just because you create a video on a video platform doesn’t mean it’s going to do very well. And so when I looked at the analytics and then I also thought about the audience. Our prospective students have no idea who our president is.
That is not a factor that crosses their mind. And so that was something that didn’t do very well. So we had to think, “Okay, if we try to do this next time, what are different takes that we can have? Should we have a student pretend like they’re vlogging and they run into the president?” And then it’s just something that’s really fun and very casual. Is it something where we need to introduce our president?
Or also is this something that’s more institution led where we’re trying to push something at the audience, so maybe it’s something that we’re still have to do or we’ll still need to do, but then making sure that we sweeten the analytics, like I mentioned before, something that’s trending or reactive or something that’s a little bit more student focused. And so like I mentioned, you have to appreciate the flops. You have to love the fails because if you don’t, you’re not really going to know that you’re doing a good job. And on top of that too, it’s just really good to know where your audience is, what they like, and it also allows you to see when your audience is shifting too.

Jarrett Smith:
Super interesting. Someone is listening to this right now and they’re thinking, “All right, Morgan told me everything I need to know. I’m going to wrangle up some students. We’re going to start. I’m going to give them access to our TikTok account.” Can you give us any cautionary advice on how this might go wrong if someone’s trying to replicate what you’re doing there at Flagler, anything you might say about pumping the brakes on that?

Morgan Goodwill:
I would say don’t jump into it. I know that your heart is probably palpitating if you’re like, “Oh my God, I have to give the password to people. Oh my goodness. Don’t rush into it.” I do think for anyone, it’s definitely a process. So for us, I’ve been in this position for two years, and so I’ve built trust with not just our students, but our marketing team. And so them trusting me allows me to trust my students in really creating that bridge. On top of that too, think about what’s feasible. So some institutions will do Instagram takeovers, but they’re actually fake overs. So they’ll record or have their students develop a takeover, but they won’t post it day of.
So that way the students creating it on their own account, they don’t have any nervousness of what might be posted, what might not be posted, and they have full control of that. I would also think about too, what’s your support system look like on your team? I have a really great team to where if I can’t make an agency meeting, our videographer, multimedia specialist on campus can step in for me and go over our agency meeting, and I have full trust in him that he’s able to do that. So definitely take it very slow. Start building the trust with the students. You also need to recruit students and make sure that you have students every year.
So when I say 80% of our content is made by our students, I also make sure that in putting in the work to recruit more students, because once you have that flow of content, it’s really hard to stop that flow of content. And so making sure you’re just able to continue that. And so whether it’s going to classrooms and doing presentations or it’s using your students currently to recruit more students for yourself, really, really important. So it is a process, and it’s okay to take it slow right off the bat.

Jarrett Smith:
No, I think it’s such great advice to really think about what’s feasible. I think so much with social media, it seems that we sort of feel obligated to be on a certain channel and to post a certain frequency. And you said right at the beginning, we’re focusing on quality over quantity. So it’s not about necessarily posting every day. I think it’s good to show that restraint.

Morgan Goodwill:
And I think too… Well, when we’ve looked at everything, you have to remember when you’re a social media manager or a strategist or whatever your title may be, if you’re in the realm of social. You know from your perspective, it’s not important to post something right away unless it’s time sensitive. And so when you’re in your position you’re also teaching people to understand what it means to be working in social. Because what they see is they pick up their phone and it’s immediate to them. So that’s what they’re used to.
So really taking the time to showcase this isn’t something that’s time sensitive, and the fact of this is going to do really well if I take my time with it and post it a couple of days later versus posting it right after. And then a practice that I’ve gotten into is if I get a request to post something, I will post it within what I’m able to, and then I try to send them back the analytics to showcase that it did really well, because it also instills that faith in me that I know what I’m doing and that they’re able to trust me with the content that they’re sending over to me too.
And so really establishing that trust and those relationships with people across the board of your campus, outside of your marketing team has been a really big factor for me.

Jarrett Smith:
Absolutely. Morgan, this has been a super informative conversation and so many great little nuggets and tips in there. If folks want to connect with you, learn more, carry on the conversation about social media, where’s the best place to do that?

Morgan Goodwill:
So the best place to reach me is going to be my LinkedIn. I’m up there as Morgan S. Goodwill. As a true social media manager, I’m always on there and super responsive on my LinkedIn, so that’s going to be the best place to catch me.

Jarrett Smith:
Awesome. All right, well thank you so much, Morgan. Awesome.

Morgan Goodwill:
Thank you too.

Jarrett Smith:
The Higher Ed Marketing Lab is produced by Echo Delta, a full-service enrollment marketing agency for colleges and universities of all sizes. To see some of the work we’ve done and how we’ve helped schools just like yours, visit EchoDelta.co. If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. And as always, if you have a comment, question, suggestion, or episode idea, feel free to drop us a line at podcast@EchoDelta.co.

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Jarrett is our VP of Strategy and the torchbearer for all things digital. Since joining us in 2014, he’s made it his mission to help clients seize the power of smarter marketing strategies—and reap the rewards.

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