7 Copywriting Hacks For Higher Education Marketing

Copywriting is an important part of any higher education marketer’s toolkit. From hooks on TikTok to punchy one-liners on Twitter, you need to capture the audience, sell your school, and keep it on-message all in the fewest possible words. How do you balance all that whilst making sure each post ties into your overall marketing objectives?

Writing for social requires a very different skill set than other forms of copywriting. Often you need to keep it conversational, but also make sure your school's value proposition is coming across sincerely.

In this article we're going to give you a few hacks you can use to make sure your next writing session for social media is productive, efficient, and relevant to your goals.

1. Analyze your headlines

This hack is especially useful when posting about faculty research or recent news events from your school. It can be tempting to copy and paste the headline of the article and call it a day. However, a good headline can:

- Create an emotional connection
- Help your reader learn about a new subject
- Incite the imagination: We just have to know more!

Sheffield Hallam University took faculty research and created an emotional connection right in the visual on the post. This is followed up with a short and clear text explaining why this research is so relevant. Notice the repeated use of emotive words: Innovative; Improve; Inspiring; Impact? That's not a coincidence. They then close off by connecting the achievement to their website via a trackable short link.

You can try a few headlines out for yourself using a headline analyzer. Advanced Marketing Institute offers a free tool and provides each headline with an EMV (Emotional Marketing Value). Yes, that might be something they made up, but the tool is extremely useful.

2. Create headline templates

If your school is constantly churning out great research and exciting news events, sooner or later you're going to get headline fatigue (OK, that's something we made up). One way to save yourself time and energy is to create headline templates.

To begin with make a scratch list of all the headlines that resonate, or you feel could fit in with your school's tone of voice. Paste them into a spreadsheet or word doc as you go your daily rounds on the web, and you'll soon start seeing which ones can be re-purposed for your own communications.

Test different headline and posting copy combinations on social media and make a note of how each one performs. Do some impact shares and engagement more than others? No template is going to work right out of the blocks, so you're going to have to experiment to get the right balance.

Remember, your template pot will need refilling from time to time, so make sure you frequently add more inspiration to your scratch list as you go.

3. Recycle your content

Differentiating content by channel is important, but that doesn't mean you should assign each channel its own unique content and posting texts. It simply isn't sustainable. The hack here is making your content work harder so you don't have to. Start by taking a popular article from your school and schedule it over several posts.

There are a few ways you can slice up content for cross-channel consumption:

- Pull an eye-catching quote (Instagram or Twitter)
- Write a one sentence summary (LinkedIn)
- Break the article into bullet points (Instagram Reels)
- Use PowerPoint to export a square slider video with images and text (Facebook)

Cambridge University combine a high-quality staged photo shoot with a powerful quote from the subject. Further in the posting text we learn Twitter was the platform which set the wheels of this story in motion. Cambridge University also featured this content on its LinkedIn channel with a completely different quote.

4. Use active voice

As a copywriter it's important to know the difference between an active and a passive voice. Active voice is more immediate and encourages users to act. A bonus is active voice usually uses fewer words and focuses your sentence - perfect for social media.

For example, this passive sentence "A new cooperation deal was signed by Made Up University" could be written as "Made Up University signs new cooperation deal".

If you're unsure whether your posting copy uses passive or active voice, you can use a free tool like Passive Voice Detector to check.

5. Create a brand voice guide

This hack has delayed benefits. While it may take some time to create at the beginning, having something to refer to in the future will save a lot of time and headaches. Your brand voice guide should cover everything about your social media communications, from the language you use, to grammar, post visuals and tone of voice.

Having a brand voice guide takes the ambiguity out of writing for social, especially if you have multiple team members crafting posts. A guide can also provide suggestions for approved words and inform marketers how long an optimal post should be by channel.

Need help getting started? We've put together a few tips.

UNC Greensboro have prepared a comprehensive social media style guide which is clearly being followed in this Instagram post. Posting a high-quality student image, keeping the posting text to two short paragraphs, making a clear call to action and including just a few branded hashtags.

6. Test long form texts

While it might go against your instincts to include longer posting texts on social media, they do have their use and place. Longer posts can help you go deeper into important topics such as research or social issues. Longer posts can be a welcome break from the shorter, snippier posts around them and, when written well, can be more engaging.

Long form posts are already prevalent on LinkedIn, but this hack can help schools inject trust and sincerity into their Instagram and Facebook accounts too.

If you can't attract a world-renowned naturalist like the University of East Anglia did below, start with some research, news or student generated content and follow these steps:

- Find content you think will educate your audience
- Find the emotive, storytelling elements
- Lead with a strong opening sentence and get more detailed later
- Play around with paragraph breaks and formatting for reading

7. Experiment with 'Me' vs. 'You'

Using a first-person pronoun can drastically increase a reader's connection to your school or university. If a prospective student can imagine themselves on campus or in the lecture theater, there is a much higher chance they will apply. We shouldn't let 360-degree virtual campus tours and bright high-resolution images do all the heavy lifting. Something as simple as using 'me' rather than 'you' can make all the difference. Using 'my' also opens the opportunity to be more confident in rhetoric. For example, which one of these sentences do you think is more likely to convert?

"This could be your home for the next three years", or "This will be my home for the next three years".

Copywriting is a skill which can be learnt and perfected with continued experimentation and practice. Writing for social media is a discipline which requires a different set of tools than longer form article writing or website copy.

With these seven hacks you will be well on your way to more efficient and effective writing for your school's social media channels. Hopefully, this article gave you some ideas on how to optimize your copywriting process.

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