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Executive Twitter Use: Southeastern University’s Social Strategy

Higher education executives set the tone for an institution’s brand through their social media presence. Sixty-three percent of higher ed execs believe a social media presence is fundamental to an institution’s strategic planning and fulfillment of its mission according to Education Dive. Our free report, Examining Twitter Influence of Campus Executives, is a collaboration with Dr. Josie Ahlquist that explores the digital presence of campus executives.

Blog post image for Executive Twitter Use: Southeastern University's Social Strategy

The report analyzes six months of tweets from 196 higher education institution presidents and vice presidents to understand how they use Twitter and what influences their online impact. Dr. Kent Ingle, the president of Southeastern University, is one of the executives in our report. Dr. Ingle and his communication staff work closely on their approach to Twitter and their overall social media strategy, and they were kind enough to answer a few of our questions.  

How do you develop your social media strategy?

Calendar icon

Our approach to social media is all about consistency. We’ve found the best return on our efforts comes when we just approach it with the goal of publishing a post every day. So our strategy stems from that goal.

Who does the planning?

It’s a collaborative process between the Office of the President, the Office of Communication, and partnerships with some outside vendors. Together, we identify key issues to comment on and outline potential “on-brand” expressive tweets for each day. We try to keep ourselves nimble so we’re able to talk to current issues, while maintaining our consistency goal.

Who manages the social content day-to-day?

Kent Ingle For Twitter specifically, Dr. Ingle generates a daily expressive tweet himself based on recommendations from the creative teams. If there is a story happening on the news cycle or something else to promote, such as a blog or podcast, the team generates concepts for Dr. Ingle, who sends the tweet himself based on the recommendations he receives. That one tweet becomes the cornerstone that is recycled on other social media outlets, so we get the maximum return on all content.

callout-sonar Report Insights: Among the eight content themes we identified in executive social media content, the expressive theme was the third most common type of content represented in our sample. Expressive content shares encouragement, inspiration, and motivation during times when students and the community may need it. Dr. Ingle’s expressive tweets show his encouragement and support of his campus and community.

What does your planning look like? Social media content calendar

We typically take a piece of pillar content, such as a blog or column by Dr. Ingle, and mine it for potential on-brand expressive tweets. We also have a calendar of content from our partners who help us manage the website and podcasts—so we create tweets ahead of time that correspond with these needs.

Do you do any type of social listening?

Our partners handle a lot of the data analysis, utilizing multiple platforms such as HubSpot and Gloo to understand the relevant issues for our audience.

What content type do you get the most engagement from?

The bulk of our content is expressive or political/social issues; so generally, that’s our engagement baseline that we compare the rest of the categories to. We’ve had the most viral effect with humorous, day-in-the-life posts; though we believe that’s because we limit the amount of these types of posts, which lends to their virality.

callout-sonarReport Insights: Dr. Ingle is one of the few executives in our sample who wasn't in the top 10 most influential who publish a large amount of content about political/social issues. Non-influencers published 4.49 percent of their content in this category, while influencers had 14.41 percent.

What are your most effective post types?

Our most effective engagement forms are video. The last several videos posted on Facebook had more than 10,000 views each. But they’re also the most time consuming and difficult to produce, which is why we don’t do them often. These pieces often become the pillar pieces of content that we adapt and recycle for the rest of the month in things like blog posts, tweets, and articles.

callout-sonarReport Insights: Our report found that executives tweet text and image posts most frequently and that this type of skimmable content is more likely to earn retweets and replies. Among executives, video tweets had the least amount of mentions, retweets, and replies. However, Dr. Ingle’s team has had different results. When they post videos on Facebook, they have more engagement than text or image posts. This shows why it’s important for you to analyze your own data to see what’s working for your campus and audience.  

What’s the general sentiment of your social content? Is this something you monitor?

We don’t monitor sentiment directly; however, we’ve found that our posts are generally well received. Our branding aims for the middle ground, and we’ve often been criticized publicly by ideological extremes. Privately however, we receive a ton of positive feedback from emails and direct messages.

Do you employ the same strategies for other social platforms? Or is Twitter your main platform?

Twitter iconTwitter is our primary platform, but we monitor and utilize strategies across all platforms. Again, our process is to get the most mileage out of singular pillar pieces of content.

If you use other platforms, where are you getting the most engagement with students, alumni, and community members?

Conversation bubblesOverall students respond the most to Instagram posts, alumni tend to interact on Facebook, and community/outsiders reach out to us through Twitter. However, our best direct feedback comes from a weekly email newsletter to our community and subscribers. This is a mailing list comprised of outside subscribers and community members, and we update the content every week with the latest blogs, videos, and social content.


How does Southeastern University’s strategy relate to your campus’s social strategy? Share your insights and experiences with higher ed executive social presence on Twitter with #InfluentialExecs. And if you haven’t read the report yet, download it now to help shape your executive digital presence.

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Subscribe to Brain Waves!The post Executive Twitter Use: Southeastern University's Social Strategy originally appeared on the Campus Sonar Brain Waves blog.

Michelle Mulder

Michelle Mulder is Campus Sonar's Content Strategist, building, managing, and creating content that aligns with the Campus Sonar brand. Michelle works with Bri to understand our audiences’ needs and provide them content to help them make an informed decision. With more than 10 years of higher education experience and 20 in educational publishing, Michelle enjoys the ongoing learning environment of Campus Sonar. In her “spare time” she gets a break from her three high schoolers by reading, going to barre class, and catching up on Netflix with her husband.

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