In just two years, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) career center’s Instagram jumped from 140 followers to 980 and counting, an extraordinary 600% increase. Emily Behn, Assistant Director of Employer Relations within the Office of Career & Leadership Development at TCNJ, shares her team’s strategies for cultivating an online presence that drives student social media engagement.
Feature student stories
TCNJ’s early online strategy primarily centered on posting flyers to promote upcoming events, a method that didn’t get much traction. Working with a student intern, Emily realized that humanizing their feed with photos of students captured much higher interest. Students tend to like, comment, and tag each other on posts that feature their peers (see an example here). To find students to spotlight, Emily refers to job and internship data from their First Destination Survey in Handshake.
“Utilize your first destination and internship surveys to reach out for student success stories. This is where we’ve seen the greatest impact in our follower growth.”
Emily Behn, Assistant Director of Employer Relations
Save time with Handshake’s Marketing Toolkit
With the transition to remote learning in 2020, the team had to find creative ways to stay active on social media and let students know the career center was still there to support them.
Emily took inspiration from the Handshake Marketing Toolkit, a hub of ready-to-use and customizable marketing collateral to help career centers engage students virtually. Using graphics and captions already prepared by Handshake saves the TCNJ team time and effort in creating content from scratch. For example, the toolkit helped Emily create a TCNJ edition of Handshake's “Step Up Your Profile” challenge, a weekly series that encourages students to complete one easy task per week to prepare for job searching.
Asked about other useful timesaving tips, Emily shared:
“Invest in a planning app or create your own in a spreadsheet. I use a planning app on my phone to schedule posts ahead of time so that posting only takes a few seconds during a busy day. This has been a huge life saver for me.”
Experiment with different mediums
To drive social media engagement from their Gen Z audience, TCNJ uses a mix of Instagram Stories and videos on top of their regular posts.
Instagram Stories are an especially versatile tool for featuring upcoming events, student stories, and employer takeovers that give students a glimpse into life at their company. The team makes sure to link students directly back to Handshake to learn more or register for events.
The polls feature in Instagram Stories is an interactive way to get a sense of what students’ concerns are. Student responses to poll questions like “Where do you need help in your job search?” help the team identify what areas to focus on in their social media posts.
The team has created a library of IGTV videos on topics like “Freshen Up Your Resume” and “What to Expect in Your Internship Search.” (You can also use videos under the social media assets from our Marketing Toolkit to help with this effort!) The TCNJ team also follows other school accounts and relevant hashtags to find campus-specific content to repost and flourish some school spirit.
Emily's advice for career centers just starting to build up their student social media engagement:
"Take the time to identify a few content areas to focus on. We identified student success stories, upcoming events, career tips, and our campus as the general content areas for our profile. This helps cut down on the time spent brainstorming what to post and helps keep our feed diversified.”