calvin college logo
Currently rated as number one among colleges in its region, Calvin College is consistently recognized as a leading institution. In 2016, one of the college’s key objectives was to build on its existing reputation by boosting visibility on social media. In order to achieve this the college has launched an advocacy program for staff, students and alumni, using the Sociabble platform to aggregate content and drive sharing on social networks.

The Sociabble platform aggregates content from Calvin College’s social network accounts and related communication feeds, organizing it onto themed channels. Users subscribe to and switch between the channels of their choice, and can share posts on their own social media accounts at the click of a button. Available natively for Android, iOS and Windows Phone, Sociabble also allows for the creation of user-generated content (UGC) and offers a full suite of gamification features.
calvin college launches employee advocacy with sociabble

Advocacy: An Intuitive Move for the Higher Education Sector

“The arguments supporting an advocacy program really made sense to us,” explains Amanda Greenhoe, Social Media Manager at Calvin College. “Not only do people favor personal recommendations over company recommendations, but engaging a community of ambassadors drives credibility, and advocacy is a great way of spreading key messages on social media.” After researching a number of tools, Calvin College selected the Sociabble platform for its advocacy program.

Any initiative in the education sector requires the input of numerous stakeholders and involves various levels of leadership. However, Greenhoe points out that “this is also the beauty of academia, as there is a lot of collaboration.” In terms of buy-in, therefore, Calvin College faced very few obstacles – especially because, notes Greenhoe, “the Sociabble platform is highly intuitive and was presented in a clear, concise way.”

“The arguments supporting an advocacy program really made sense to us. Not only do people favor personal recommendations over company recommendations, but engaging a community of ambassadors drives credibility, and advocacy is a great way of spreading key messages on social media.”
Amanda Greenhoe, Social Media Manager, Calvin College
calvin college employee engagement with sociabble

Students, Staff, Alumni and Parents: Onboarding Specific User Groups

The leaders of Calvin College’s advocacy program began by drawing up a list of people for whom Sociabble would be particularly relevant. These individuals were introduced to Sociabble via direct emails and the college’s internal newsletter. Meanwhile, Twitter was used to raise awareness about the initiative among other college communities. Tweets such as “If you want to be an advocate for Calvin College, let us know” sparked curiosity among staff and students, many of whom got in touch asking for more information. “Once they discovered the Sociabble platform and found out how easy it is to use, they were quickly on board,” explains Greenhoe.

Today, Calvin College’s Sociabble users include staff, students, parents and alumni. In order to address the needs of these groups, project leaders held introductory sessions highlighting the added value of the platform. The social media team already hosted consulting sessions with individual departments, helping them to get the most out of social media. These sessions were used as an opportunity to bring Sociabble into the picture. “For individual faculties, for example, social media is a place of influence,” notes Greenhoe, “so Sociabble helps by enabling them to make a mark and develop their personal branding. For admissions councilors, on the other hand, it’s a great way to use content to engage with and recruit new students on social media.”

Calvin College on Sociabble: Content, Challenges and Campaigns

The Calvin College Sociabble platform is made up of 13 themed channels, which include content published by the college, individual departments, student organizations, alumni and affiliated institutions. The platform’s gamification features are used to promote specific content and drive user engagement. For example, the advocacy program was launched with a “Dive In!” challenge, which included the promotion of content containing the college’s enrollment hashtag #CalvinBound. In this way, Sociabble helped to boost enrollment efforts at a crucial time for admissions teams. This launch challenge, which took place in April 2016, helped to generate a monthly social media reach of over a million external users.

gamification with sociabble

User-Generated Content: Showcasing Individual Stories

User-generated content (UGC) is a key feature of the Sociabble platform, and a central element of Calvin College’s advocacy program. Calls-to-action on each channel invite users to get involved by submitting their own content. These posts, which are approved by platform administrators, include insights into student life and staff activity. UGC is also one of the key ways in which Calvin College engages alumni. “We have students who have gone on to become writers, for example, who can share their own blog posts on Sociabble,” explains Greenhoe. “It’s a great way for our alumni to stay in touch with the college and share what they’re up to now.”

calvin college content marketing with sociabble

The Benefits: Great Content Rising to the Surface

A key benefit of Sociabble, adds Greenhoe, is that “a lot of great content has risen to the surface and now reaches a larger audience.” Alongside the college’s marketing and communications department, student organizations, sport clubs, academic departments and other areas of the institution are all benefiting from increased exposure on social media thanks to users’ sharing activity.

“If there’s one piece of advice I would give to other higher education institutions looking to launch an advocacy program,” notes Greenhoe, “it’s look for users far and wide. Don’t just engage those people who are on the payroll. Advocacy is a great opportunity for students, staff and alumni to access the great content being produced throughout the organization, to share it, and to get involved by submitting their own content.”

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