Caroline Roulaux has been working at Maastricht University since 1999. She started out as a student recruiter for the Faculty of Health Sciences and after that, spent 13 years as a press officer and science communicator. She is currently the Communications Adviser for the university’s service centres, mainly involving internal communications. She studied at Maastricht University and at the Van der Hilst Institute.
Social advocacy is the process of empowering students, staff and alumni to support the goals of your organisation, using their own personal accounts to share inspiring news and stories about their university. Students and employees have a much larger audience and can therefore multiply the reach of the university’s fanpages. They are a very powerful source of information for their peers and their personal experiences add authenticity to the corporate story, improving the university’s reputation. Social advocacy will also encourage student and employee engagement in the broadest sense and thus make them more committed to your organisation.
As part of the EUPRIO Mobility Programme, communication professionals from four universities (Aarhus, Glasgow, Antwerp and Maastricht) explored and exchanged best practice within the field of social advocacy for both students and employees. In this workshop, we will report on our outcomes and share this best practice.
During the EUPRIO Mobility Programme, we addressed the following questions:
• How to recruit advocates and assemble a team of content creators?
• How to get their commitment – what’s in it for them?
• How to develop a content strategy and create a ‘pipeline of shareable content’, tailored to segmented groups within the student and employee communities?
• What kind of content to share? (articles, corporate news, testimonials, event reports, personal content eg ‘a day in the life of’)
• How to find the right balance between information and personal or fun content?
Channels and tools
• Different social media channels all call for a different content approach – which channel to use for what content?
• Which tools/platforms to use for communicating with advocates about the programme and to facilitate content sharing?
• How to set goals and measure impact?
• How to make the social advocacy programme sustainable and encourage employees/students to continue their efforts?
• How to get buy-in from leadership? The connection and interaction with university leaders could be an interesting incentive for both students and employees.
• How to find the right balance of retaining control or handing complete control over to the advocates?
In this workshop, we will share what we have learned from our exchange, and discuss best practices and personal experiences with the workshop participants. We hope to inspire participants to set up or improve their own social advocacy programmes.