How universities are supporting students’ mental health with social media

How universities are supporting students’ mental health with social media

Imagine it: you’re trapped in a small room far from friends and family, unable to go out and meet people. Trying to study and form new relationships through a screen. The pressure to cope, but the fear of Covid.

The stark reality for students last year, it’s no wonder that more than half of them reported that their mental health was affected.

With anxiety, loneliness and depression piled on top of the usual pressures of living in a new city, being away from their support network, and adjusting to a learning experience that’s noticeably different from school – 2020 was reported as the worst year on record for student mental health.

So what did unis do to alleviate things?

Virtual support

With face-to-face contact a no-no, and today’s students highly engaged with all kinds of tech, it was a no-brainer for lots of unis to turn to social media to deliver mental health support services. Many also used social platforms to encourage students to share their experiences and create a sense of togetherness during the pandemic.

And now that we’re in this post-lockdown phase, many are keeping their social channels going as a valuable source of information and support for students.

Let’s take a closer look.

Creating a hub of connection

With the pandemic making it harder for students to form connections, The University of Lincoln set up their own online hub during lockdown called Student Life. It’s a place for students to get to know one another before and during uni and build those all-important support networks. The comms team post across Twitter, Facebook, Insta, TikTok and YouTube, so it’s easy for students to follow the latest hub info. They can even get involved in helping to run the hub, with paid positions on offer to enhance their CV, job prospects and resilience. The scheme has had a high uptake, and is set to continue this academic year and beyond.

Finding the balance

Another big source of stress for students (aside from the obvious health concerns) was knowing where they stood on things like accommodation, teaching arrangements and plans for assessment. So universities have been researching exactly what students need to know about, so they can share the right info at the right time, and promote their wellbeing services effectively on social.

The University of Sussex has taken a curated approach to wellbeing; they didn’t want to bombard their student body with too much info, so they carefully drip fed the comms that went out to get that balance just right.

Listening in

Other unis have been using social listening tools (available on a management platform like ours) to monitor for early warning signs when any individual student’s mental health is deteriorating. They use the platform’s monitoring function to listen for keywords in social posts, even when students aren’t talking directly to the institution. It means universities can reach out to students who are struggling and give them the support they need.

Using social as a channel for support

Ultimately, student mental health is still front and centre for universities in the UK and elsewhere. And as we move into this new phase of uni life, with hybrid studying and a lot of teaching still happening online, students will continue to need extra support and reassurance. Social media gives your HEI an effective channel to provide that support in the best way for your students.

Find out how you can use social media to enhance your mental health support strategy. Book a free demo with one of our team.


Do emojis belong in B2B social media?

Do emojis belong in B2B social media?

Emojis: some people ❤ them. Others? Not so much.

According to Adobe, a whopping 92% of the online population now uses emojis, 76% professionally. They’ve become so widespread that an emoji was even named the Oxford Dictionaries Word of The Year in 2015.

But when it comes to B2B social media, it’s a minefield for brands to decide on an emoji strategy. Some people think they’re unprofessional, but if you want to connect with your audience, could emojis be the answer?

Pro emoji

On the one hand, emojis are fun and eye-catching. B2B has a reputation for being a bit dry (and yes, things can get pretty serious when you’re talking insurance or office supplies), so emojis can inject much-needed personality into your posts.

Emojis are also great for getting a message across instinctively, and they can save precious characters on platforms with strict limits, such as Twitter. According to a UCL professor, they can even help express emotions like empathy or overwhelm 💕🤯.

Internet connection

Emojis bring humour and light-heartedness, building rapport with your audience. Indeed, recent studies from Edge Hill University have shown that emojis prompt the same reaction in our brains as a human face. Since emojis are performing a similar function on social media to body language and tone of voice in real life, marketers would be pretty foolish to dismiss them entirely.

When emojis get anti-social

On the other hand, understanding emojis isn’t always straightforward – hands up all those who were surprised by what the aubergine REALLY means ✋🍆 😳.

One user can interpret these little pictograms in a completely different way to another, and since comms is all about, well, communicating, that’s pretty bad news😵.

Misunderstandings can arise across generations, and followers can even be offended when an emoji gives the wrong impression. Understandably, businesses can feel nervous about using them on social – they don’t want to risk damaging their public image.

Not only that, but emojis aren’t great for accessibility: visually impaired internet users – who rely on tech such as screen readers – can struggle to get the full meaning from posts littered with smileys. And that’s a bit 💩.

Staying #OnTrend

So, what’s a B2B marketer to do? Using emojis increases engagement by 25% on Twitter and 47% on Instagram, so we clearly love them. And remember that even in B2B comms it’s a person, not a business, reading posts from your brand.

Since social media is all about connecting with other humans, let’s speak their language. And that includes emojis. 👌

However, we shouldn’t overdo it 😡❌⚠. Clarity is everything, so don’t rely on emojis where interpretation is needed.

Here are our favourite helpful hints for emojis in B2B social media:

  • Use emojis to reinforce your points or emotions
  • Include a maximum of four per post for the best readability
  • Build rapport using emojis for an instant human connection
  • Keep in mind followers who rely on screen readers or other tech to help them access your content: place emojis at the end of a post for best accessibility
  • Remember that emojis can be misinterpreted. Try emojipedia to check out meanings before you post.

And finally…

Most of all, it’s important to know your audience. As with all marketing, knowing what language your target audience speaks is the key to successful social media 👍.

Ready to bring your B2B posts to life? Get in touch with our team.