Digital Marketing covers a wide range of tools - from social media platforms to campus calendars, and even tools like listservs and flatscreens. While digital tools and platforms are available to more people than ever (and easier to use than ever), they are not shortcuts on the road to effective marketing. There's much to learn about the wide variety of digital marketing tools - so we've rounded up a quick 101 to get you started.
As a member of the UVM community - you and your organization represent the University of Vermont when engaging on social media. It's important to remember that your presence is a reflection of our community values - especially when you consider social platforms exist on a national stage. It's also important to use the platforms that work best for you (and to use it correctly!).
Did you Know? Almost all social media accounts use algorithms to decide what shows up on their user's feeds. This means your posts won't show up for everyone that follows you - or even on the same day you post it. Posting the kind of content the platform is built for, content that is relevant to your followers, and content folks engage with will increase your chances of content being seen.
Do You Need an Account?
Consider these questions before starting up a new social account:
- Do we already have an account? Building a following is HARD. If your organization already has an account out there - do everything you can to try and get access to that account before starting a new one. Not only will it help you not start from scratch - but it'll also help prevent the clutter of old, inactive accounts on the service; which helps make it easier for folks to find you and others.
- Do I have enough content to feed the account? Effective social media relies on your unique (and human) perspective as an organization to add to the conversation. Do you have photos and videos? Will you well into the future?
- Am I comfortable being conversational? Many treat social media like postering - you get the poster, you put it up, and then you're done. But effective account management might require you to be available (and knowledgeable) to quickly answer questions and/or comments should they come up.
- Do I have time to do manage this? Managing a social account requires daily work - sometimes late at night, early in the morning, and even on weekends. Because of the way algorithms and feeds work - you'll have to be prepared to 'feed' your new account constantly with relevant content or risk losing your audience.
- Am I starting an account because I feel I have to? Don't join any platforms just because you feel like you 'need' to. Make thoughtful choices about which platforms make sense for the content you want to share. Consider the tools on each that will help you along the way.
If after answering those questions, you still feel that you need to jump in - great! Your next step is to start strategizing. Think about who you're hoping to reach and what your goals are - and develop a plan to achieve them. This is a great stage to figure out who on your team will be managing the account(s), what kind of content you're going to post, and how you're going to measure whether or not you're successful.
Choosing the Best Platform
Different platforms have different audiences, strengths, and weaknesses. Here's a brief description of what the biggest social platforms are best used for when it comes to marketing organizations and/or events:
Instagram - a place for folks to cultivate their own collection of beautiful photos and follow people and brands they feel a connection to. Users can also search for specific topics, follow hashtags, post 24-hour stories, post both long and short-form videos, and make TikTok-esque videos called 'Reels'. Owned by Facebook - so lots of feature cross-over between the two platforms.
Best For - Beautiful visuals, fun videos, and very little text above all else. Does not easily allow for linking - better for general awareness. Fun engagement opportunities with live streams, including pulling in other users for public chats. Posts typically have a lifespan of 48 hours before falling off user feeds.
- Facebook - a great place to engage with folks who are already connected to UVM. You've got two options to create 'branded' space on Facebook - Groups and Pages. Groups are internally-focused, public or private, discussion based spaces - they are mostly internally facing (ie- a space for folks already engaged with you). Pages are an externally facing place for you to share information as your organization (ie - kind of like a website). Folks can tag a page - but you cannot tag a group. Facebook is also a robust space for finding and advertising events.
Best For - Sharing links, information about events, photos, and videos. A great destination for livestreams. Lots of tools for Facebook pages including a post scheduler. Great for updating and engaging an older audience in a more structured way. Content on facebook has a lifespan of about 5 hours after you post it.
- Twitter - The birthplace of hashtags, many folks use twitter as an 'in the moment' update and news source platform - usually around specific topics and trends. Users can cultivate lists, share photos, videos, and audio, and signal boost posts by others through 'retweeting'. This service is often used as a space for customer service interactions, and there is a high-expectation for timely responses on this service.
Best For - News alerts and quick updates. Great for conversational engagement and humor (memes, gifs, fun videos, etc). Also an easy place to connect with other high-profile people and brands to signal boost your message. The average lifespan of a tweet is about 18 minutes - so life moves fast on this platform.
Have a special event coming up that you'd like to share with the UVM world? UVM Communications is open to working with campus organizations on 'takeovers' of the official UVM instagram story to assist in telling the story of what happens on our campus to UVM's 44k+ followers. Takeovers require advanced notice and planning with UVM's social media team - and can be dependent on available space within their communications calendar.
If you are interested in exploring a takeover, contact Riley Lantz (Riley.Lantz@uvm.edu).
It's important to keep in mind individuals with accessibility needs who may be trying to access your posts and tweets online. Some platforms are better than others at providing in-app tools (like alt tags to describe images and captions to describe audio) to help include folks with impairments - but there is still much work to do.
Take a second to learn more about inclusive design with social media. Think about how your text will be read by a screen reader (or by someone for whom english isn't their first language). If you're making a video, connect with Student Accessibility Services to have them provide captions for you before posting them online - on services like Youtube and Facebook you can include a file for folks to opt to turn captions on or off. Never rely on auto captioning as it is often unreliable.
Creating an Account
- Check the UVM social media directory to see what other folks have named their accounts and come up with a name that is searchable and identifiable. Include 'UVM' in your account name. When possible stay away from insider acronyms or nicknames that folks unfamiliar with your organization won't know to look for.
- If possible, use a departmental/organizational email account when setting up your account - not a personal email account. This helps when/if ownership needs to transfer and prevents lost passwords in the future.
- Try to share access to your account with at least one other person - perhaps an advisor or full-time staff member at UVM connected to your organization.
Branding Your Account
- Your bio is a great place to state your affiliation/connection with UVM. (ie - "The official account of @uvmvermont's club awesome").
- Follow other UVM accounts on the same platform - including the official UVM account. Most social platforms will recommend similar accounts to you - but if you want to jump start it you can check out UVM's most active social accounts in the social media directory.
- Success on any social media account hinges on ensuring your content is timely and high-quality. Most (if not all) platforms prioritize beautiful imagery over posters and screen grabs.
- Remember that social media is a form of two-way communication. Engage with your followers!
- Listening is just as important as posting. Pay attention to trends, what kind of content is out there, and what folks are saying.
- Be honest and human. Building trust and relationships is key. Prove to your followers that you're not a robot or faceless organization.
- Resist the urge to post the exact same content across multiple channels. This will only help people tune you out (or unfollow you). Don't become digital wallpaper!
- Make sure you have the rights to use any images or videos you're posting. If you don't own the content, tag and/or credit who is providing it to you.
- Rules are meant to be broken (or at least some of them are). A lot is written about what you 'should' do - but listen to your gut. If you think content will resonate with folks - try it out.
- Try to minimize the amount of text in photos you post. Social algorithms classify photos with lots of text as 'advertisements' and don't show them to as many of your followers. Crisp, clean, beautiful photos will always reach more people.
- Always tag partners, collaborators, and sponsors when possible. This will increase your reach and show folks your organization is well connected in addition to allowing those you've tagged to reshare your content.
- Tag and/or DM @uvmbored so they can help promote your event if they're able - it's the reason they exist!
- Use the hashtag #instauvm when posting beautiful or exciting photos of campus and UVM activities. This not only notifies the main UVM accounts, but also exposes your content to everyone who follows that tag.
- Think about when you’re posting. Is your audience using social at that time? Will it make sense if it pops up tomorrow - or will the event has passed. Remember - algorithms could change the 'day' your post shows up!
- Post beautiful photos and videos on Instagram – not posters (minimal text). If promoting a poster - consider creating a version that just has beautiful artwork and the title of your event. The extra info can live in the caption.
- You don't have to be a photographer to learn a little about taking great photos right from your phone. Extra points for learning the rule of thirds. A little knowledge will go a long way.
- Don't include links in your captions - they won't work. Consider changing your bio link and including "(Link in bio) instead. Or better yet - use a service like Linktree.
- Interact with other users and posts. Some influencer insiders say interacting with other posts and hashtags for 15 minutes before and after you post will boost your algorithm ranking.
- Keep your captions concise and to the point. If you need to add extra info (like hashtags), hide them after the 'read more' by adding 5 lines of "." then your hashtags - or comment with them on the post!
- Don't sleep on instagram stories. Stories are a space for more frequent, less quality posting - your feed should be reserved for 'special' content.
- There are TONS of tips, tricks, and hacks for spicing up your posts and stories. Have fun with switching it up from time to time.
- Vary the kind of content your posting. Try not to ONLY post one type of thing (photos, videos, links). Switch it up to prove you're a human - the algorithm will appreciate you more.
- Facebook is putting a lot of emphasis on video - but make sure they're quick. Videos on shorter than 21 seconds have the best completion rate.
- Make sure your information is up-to-date. This includes your profile information about who you are, your email, etc.
- When uploading a video - include captions, either directly on your video or as an additional .srt upload.
- Take a step back once in a while and see who is engaging with your posts, and what time of posts they are. Use facebook insights to learn more about your audience, like when they use facebook and where they're located.
- Answer folks quickly. Remember - social is two-way. Facebook will elevate pages that respond to comments and direct messages more than those that feel inactive and unresponsive.
- Posting a photo? Use less text. Facebook wants it's platform to feel 'personal', so it identifies photos with text as advertisements and shows them to less people.
- Add 'University of Vermont' as a co-sponsor to your facebook events. This will elevate your event and help the official UVM account show folks what's happening on campus.
- Twitter is life in the fast lane. Don't get discouraged if nobody is interacting with your content.
- Engage with others and build relationships. Ask questions. Go through your feed and respond to content you see - the more people you engage with, the more likely they'll notice your content in the future.
- Retweet content - but add to the conversation. Don't simply retweet a post - add your own commentary to it so it feels fresh and new when it shows up in your follower's profiles.
- Keep it short. You've got a whole 280 characters to use - but aim for between 80-110. Use simple, concise, easy to read language.
- Be responsive. Twitter is extremely conversational. If someone tweets at you, respond. Even a short gif response can go a long way. If it's not a conversation for public - move it to the DMs.
- Use hashtags. Consider UVM's own hashtags (like #instauvm or #uvm2025) - or any national hashtags that might be worth engaging with.
- Don't tweet too much. With things moving so fast you might be tempted to post a lot - but 1-3 posts a day is ideal for most folks. Be sure to space them out throughout the day.
- Reuse content. Because thing come and go so fast on twitter - you can save and/or retweet a post further down the line.
Not to be confused with UVM Program Board (UPB) - UVM BORED is marketing organization is made up of a team of students who are tasked with promoting all there is to do on- and off-campus at UVM. Powering it all is the UVM BORED Calendar (uvmbored.com) - a one-stop-shop for everything happening at UVM (and beyond) that logs well over 157k visits over the academic year.
Events on the calendar live beyond just the website - this content their feeds their Facebook (5.8k followers), Instagram (5.9k followers), and Twitter (3.2k followers - including former president Barack Obama). As well as a weekly email to the entire campus (11k+), a Weekly UVM Instagram take-over, and even flatscreens across campus. From weekly meetings to special events (and even personal gatherings) - having your event on the calendar ensures the BORED team can help promote it to the campus community.
How to Submit Events
Submitting events to the BORED calendar is simple by design. All you have to do is fill out the online event submission form - this ensures the team gets all the necessary information needed to list your event. Once submitted your event then goes into a queue to be reviewed by the BORED team. It can take up to 5-business days for your event to be listed, so be sure to plan ahead.
Still have questions? Contact the BORED team at email@example.com. Additional tips for what makes for a good listing are available in the 'best practices' section below.
Organizations who post their events to the BORED calendar automatically get an 'organizer page' - a single page that lists all of the upcoming events that are tagged with that organizer. This is an easily marketable page you can use to let your audience know all the events you have planned in the near future. Some organizations link to this page from their website, UVM Clubs page, and/or social accounts to drive folks to more information on their upcoming events - some examples include LivingWell, Student Government Association, and UVM Program Board.
If you would like to add information (introductory text, email/phone/website, and/or photo) to your own organizer page on BORED, reach out to the BORED team at firstname.lastname@example.org and they can get you set-up.
UVM BORED Weekly E-mail
Each Thursday, the UVM BORED team sends out an events email to the entire student body - and individuals who sign-up to receive the email (over 11k+ people!). On average, this weekly email has a highly engaged open rate of 47% (the national average of 37%).
This email overs upcoming events, applications, and campus/BTV highlights. Events are pulled directly from the UVM BORED calendar (so be sure to submit your events). If you have additional info that might be helpful for the weekly email, contact UVM BORED (email@example.com) directly. If you are not getting this email, but you would like to, join the email list.
- When submitting an event, try to including a nice visual for a image. Sometimes less text is more. It doesn't help folks to read your poster if it contains the exact information that will be in the event post. Folks will be more excited to see a simplified version of your poster or a nice photo that represents the event.
- Use ‘Right’ Photos – Make sure you have the rights to use any photos you include in your submission. UVM BORED is not responsible for monitoring copyright infringement and will direct any infringement inquiries to the original submitter.
- Avoid language like “our” or “us”. This will make readers think UVM BORED is hosting this event – rather than you! Instead use language like “Join the [your organization]…”. This is the #1 thing that delays the approval of submissions.
- Write for College Students. Think about what information would help a college student attend the event you're promoting. Is it free? Do they need to register – if so, what’s the link? Expect that individuals (especially new college students) may not know your organization or the local community, so you might need to spell things out.
- Mention Multiple Days/Times – You can easily set up a recurring event below if your event happens regularly; but it’s helpful to also mention this in the event description so folks know there are many opportunities to attend.
- Longer Events or Trips – If your event lasts multiple days, consider if someone can attend past the start day (ie – if you’re hosting an overnight hike, folks can’t join in on the second day). If not, only list the day they can begin to attend. Additionally, use recurring event options below to show your event happens on multiple days rather than a start/end date that spans multiple days.
- BORED uses it's calendar to promote upcoming events. Make sure your event is listed on the calendar so they can plan to promote it. This includes weekly promotions like their weekly email and UVM instagram takeovers like What's Up Weekly.
- If you ever have an edit, question, or want to share something with the BORED team - reach out to them via email or direct message. A team member will get back to you and help coordinate your promotion.
UVM's club database, called UVM Clubs, features a complete listing of all SGA-recognized Clubs and Organizations. This page should feature information on your specific organization, up-to-date contacts, any applications or forms, and more information about how your club is meeting. From admissions to Orientation, most UVM offices send prospective and new students to this database to view and engage with clubs as they journey to UVM.
- Prospective club members want to know WHO you are and WHAT you do! Your club page should have a clear, detailed description, a list of club officers & contact information, a photo gallery, and a list of upcoming events. If your club uses social media, those accounts shoul be linked on your Clubs page.
- Make sure your page content, including any links and contacts, are correct and up-to-date before the start of every semester. Any email addresses or social accounts you list should be monitored frequently so you can respond to inquiries promptly. If prospective members do not know when your meetings are or how to contact you, you will lose their potential membership!
- Consider listing directly on your page the day(s), time(s), and location(s) in which your organization will be meeting. If you're meeting virtually don't forget to include a link to join the call.
- Add any new photos you have to your photo album. Showcase what club involvement looks like for your organization. You can also use this space to celebrate and highlight any awards or recognition your org has received!
- List the leadership roles in your organization like President, Treasurer, etc. This will showcase the positions potential members could involve themselves with in the future - and gives them a person to reach out to if they'd like more information.
- Make updating your UVM Clubs page a part of your transition process at the end of each academic year. This will ensure most of your page is up-to-date over the summer as new students start exploring their involvement opportunities.
- Include your logo as your profile photo. Don't have one? Consider submitting a Marketing Request to have our student designers make one for you.
- Use UVM Clubs for elections and any forms you need folks to access and/or fill out. Make sure any old forms are up-to-date before sending folks to them.
- Respond to membership requests. Use the tools UVM Clubs has available to reach out to interested members.
- Looking for inspiration? Check out the Student Life page on UVM Clubs.
Many departments and buildings across campus maintain digital signs in their areas - some of which accept posters, ads, and videos from UVM affiliates. Many of these screens run a continuous program which features a variety of information such as upcoming events (from the BORED calendar), UVM News (from the UVM Newstool), curated campus videos, and posters submitted from the UVM community.
How to Submit Content
- Dudley H. Davis Center - The Dudley H. Davis Center has SEVEN general flatscreens positioned around the building, including screens in Brennan’s Pub & Bistro, Mansfield Room, New World Tortilla, Event Services and at the First and Third Floor Info Desks. View the Davis Center Flatscreen Guidelines for more information on submitting to these screens.
- Residential Life - The Department of Residential Life maintains a network of flatscreens across all of their residence halls. Content on these screens is predominantly maintained by individual learning communities to promote upcoming events and opportunities. Submissions can be made by filling out the online digital signage request form. Slides needed are Landscape size (1920x1080) in .png or .jpg format. Incorrect slide size will delay your request.
- Campus Rec - The recreation center manages five flatscreens with rotating content on them. Posters should be sized to 999x621 and saved as a jpg or png. Send to Kate Youlen along with your display dates.
- Waterman 3rd Floor Screen - The flatscreen located at Waterman's 3rd floor entrance is owned and operated by the Registrar's office as a part of their student support desk. This screen is run on the same network as the Davis Center flatscreens, it predominantly pulls in content submitted to the Davis Center. If you have further questions about this sign, or special content you'd like to add, you can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Larner College of Medicine - UVM's medical college has a number of flatscreens throughout their spaces. If you have questions about what kind of content is applicable to these screens (and how to add it) you can reach out to the College of Medicine's digital content strategist, Michelle Bookless.
- Student Life + Student Government Association - If you have content you would like to display on the flatscreens located in the Department of Student Life or SGA screens, please email DCscreen@uvm.edu to discuss your content.
- Your ad should communicate your message quickly and effectively, at a glance and from a distance - do not make it too complicated. Less is more.
- Make your your event title and date immediately visible so viewers can see it from afar.
- Keep long-form text or content brief and to a minimum; 15 seconds is not a long time to read descriptions, and most viewers won’t even try on our flatscreens.
- Screens are mounted on ceilings and walls. Think about if your content is easy to see from 4-5 feet away; if not, rethink your messaging for the flat screens.
- Contact information (website, phone number, email, etc) should be prominent so viewers can easily learn how to find more information if they’re interested.
- If you are sending a word document or powerpoint — please be sure to use default system fonts — or save each slide as an individual pdf otherwise your content will likely play with different fonts than you intended.
Everyone at UVM has an inbox - and most need to check it a few times a week to make sure they're on top of their assignments, deadlines, and up-to-date on important UVM information. E-mail might feel old-school - but it's still effective if done right; especially if it contains content people are excited to read. Consider using E-mail to send applicable (and short) notes to list of interested parties; or maybe use it to connect with faculty who might be teaching a subject thematically connected to your event or organization and can forward additional information along to their class(es).
Tools - Microsoft Outlook | Mailchimp | Constant Contact
Mailing Lists, Listservs, + Newsletters
Mailing lists are a collection of email addresses of people who want to discuss a topic of common interest. The UVM LISTSERV system allows you to set-up a list so that you can send out an email to one address and it will distribute the email to everyone on the list. It also archives these emails for future reference.
Lists can be set-up for either discussion or announcements. Discussion lists allow everyone on the list to send to the list. Announcement lists only allow the the list owner(s) to send emails over the list. Think of an announcement list as an electronic newsletter.
Downsides of using a listserv include using an older technological system, limitations around the kinds of emails you can send (text vs templated), and prolonged management of who has access and who is on the list. This service is managed by UVM Enterprise Technology Services.
Popular UVM E-Newsletters
- MOSAIC Center Newsletter - a weekly newsletter of events and information applicable to students engaged (or interested in) the Mosaic Center for Students of Color. This newsletter is intended to support BIPOC UVM students. Contact the Mosaic Center to join or inquire about including your message in their weekly send.
- Prism Center Newsletter - a weekly newsletter of events and information applicable to students engaged (or interested in) the Prism Center. This newsletter is intended to support LGBTQIA+ UVM students, faculty, and staff. You can sign-up for this newsletter online, or contact the Prism center about including your message in their weekly mailing.
- Women & Gender Equity Center Newsletter - a weekly newsletter of events and information applicable to students engaged (or interested in) the Women & Gender Equity Center. This newsletter is intended to support UVM students, faculty, and staff who have experienced sexual or intimate partner violence or who are excited to explore the intersections gender and other identities. You can sign-up for this newsletter online, or contact the WAGE center about including your message in their weekly mailing.
- UVM BORED - This weekly email from the UVM BORED team goes out to the entire undergraduate student body. It contains semester highlights, news, and a sampling of upcoming events. To increase your chances of being listed, make sure to submit your event(s) to the BORED calendar. Contact the BORED team for more information.
- UVM Today - This email from UVM Communications goes out to all UVM staff and faculty (not students) every Tuesday to highlight UVM news, staff updates, and upcoming events. Content can be submitted for review using the UVM Today submission form.
- Gradnet - this is a listserv specifically for graduate students. If you have information that would be helpful for graduate students, connect with the Graduate Student Senate to post your message to their listserv.
Club Interest Survey Data
Administered by the Department of Student Life, the Club Interest Survey allows new students to identify the organizations they're interested in prior to the start of the semester. Once the semester starts, Student Life provides a list of names and emails to club contacts so their orgs can reach out to new, interested students and tell them about their organization (what they do, when they are meeting, if there are tryouts, etc).
This information is sent to clubs in Late August and Early January. For additional information on this please contact Cody Silfies (email@example.com).
- Keep your content short and to the point. If you want your readers to complete an action (ie - buy a ticket), make sure you make your 'call to action' clear and visible ("Click to Buy a Ticket").
- If your email is getting long, consider breaking it up into sections to make it easier for your readers to skim through it (ie "About the Event", "Getting your Ticket", and "Attending the Event")
- Don't send too many emails. Inboxes are full enough as it is - frequently sending emails will increase the chances of folks asking to be removed from your list.
- Limit the number of colors, fonts, etc you use. It might feel like need to make your email flashy - but emails with unnecessary clutter are harder to skim through and more likely to wind up in the trash can.
- Provide links where possible - connect folks to additional resources by linking things like your organization name to landing pages where they can learn more about what your club, org, or office does.
- Think about your subject line. A lot has been written online about how to write effective subject lines that will get folks to open your email. Make sure your subject is connected to the content inside your email.
- A subject line can also dictate whether your email winds up in a spam folder or not - choose your words carefully.
- Use fewer exclamation marks (or none at all). Especially in subject lines.
- Make engagement the purpose of your email. In the digital ecosystem, web is a great place for expanded information, email is good for driving people to the web (and other places). Don't try to recreate too much in e-mail form - send them to places that are meant for longer-form content or action.
- Use a gif! But sparingly. Add some personality to your email with an epic gif - but don't fill the whole email up with a ton of moving pictures.
- Look at your data. If you use a service like Mailchimp or Constant Contact you can see how many people opened your email and what they clicked. Use this data to determine your next email. Pay attention to spikes in open rates and changes in your subject line or content.
- Think about when you're sending your email - when will people get it? When will they open it? If you send an e-mail at 10PM at night will it still be applicable when they open it?
- Use email to send out a post-event survey (you can make an easy one using Microsoft Forms). Ask folks for their opinion and gather data to learn more about how you can improve next time!