Best Uses of Social Media

Category General Observations

Fifteen judges made up the jury panel for the 2017 CASE Circle of Excellence Awards in the category of Digital Communications. Judges were invited from public and private institutions of higher education and also from agencies that provide services for education-based clients. Judging took place over two days of collaborative scrutiny and discussions that followed a preliminary period of pre-screening.

Criteria including presentation, effectiveness, technological considerations, and various other factors were outlined to ensure fair and comprehensive discussion on the merits of each entry. Those standard are explained for each of the subcategories below.

Criteria for Judging Award-Winning Social Media

  • Appropriate Channel Usage
  • Truly Social: Invites a two-way conversation and interaction that generates meaningful content from the audience. (A hashtag is not a campaign.)
  • Nimbleness: Timely and intelligent reactions that leverage engagement opportunities as they arise.
  • Innovation: Did the campaign do something new, imaginative and effective? Was it expertly executed, setting a standard for other schools?
  • Analytics: Appropriate statistics in context that demonstrate intention vs. luck.
  • Preparation: Robust planning and seeding of content resources to maximize participation and involve digital ambassadors.
  • Long-Term Strategy: Did the institution capitalize and extend on previous success? Was there a year-over-year strategy?
Comments on Winning Entries

Alumni Relations

16 Entries

Bronze Award

Western University (Canada) - Canada, Be Kind Mail

  • Alumni digital influencer tweets were studied to develop the idea of kind mail campaign. Alumni were targeted via social media to submit messages via an online form for postcards hand-delivered to students during exam week to promote wellbeing and connection to university. Goal was 200 postcards with 1,400 received, and coverage on national media.

16 Entries

Although a number of entries were submitted and reviewed no awards were given for the Fundraising category.

Public Relations and Marketing 

39 Entries

Gold Award

Drake University (Iowa) - #BringDraketoDrake

  • Capitalizing on an upcoming Des Moines concert by popular rap artist Drake, communications staffers conducted research and made a calculated bet that a persistent effort to bring the star to campus would result in a reputational boost. The social campaign generated copious media coverage, a late-night campus visit with inclusion on the star's own Instagram feed, and record-breaking traffic to the University's website, most notably the undergraduate application and programs pages. Hailed by journalist as "Best PR Move of the Week," it wouldn't have been possible without an astute social media strategy.

University of Sheffield (United Kingdom) - Aisha's Letter

  • This is a brilliant example of recognizing a potential story, crowdsourcing a question, finding digital influencers, and using a nimble, evolving, channel-appropriate strategy to build the story into a meaningful media event. On Women in Science Day, copies of a letter from an unknown 8-year old were used to find and identify her, invite her for a museum tour with a notable professor, and capture video for a follow-up media event. Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, traditional news outlets BBC, Metro Online, Daily Mail.

Bronze Award

Virginia Tech - Virginia Tech State of the University Address: #VTSOTU

  • The communications team prepared tweets using infographics, quotes and supplemental links that supported the text of the upcoming presidential State of the University speech. During the live-stream of the speech, they tweeted supplemental material and followed up with clips of the live event, such as the performance of the school song. The same hashtag will be used for next year's SOTU speech. Good unique users and reach figures for this event.

National University of Singapore - Leveraging Facebook to Drive School's Outcomes

  • Very strategic approach to boosting international reputation and admissions numbers via Facebook. The team made value-added, multimedia, profiles, and infographics. They prepared content anticipating international events, conducted research, and A/B testing to measure performance of social media. Impressive statistics for social acquisition, lead generation, including 62% decrease in cost per lead

Loughborough University (United Kingdom) - Going to Rio

  • Capitalizing on LU athlete participation in the 2016 Rio Olympics, the social media team built a website, prepared stories, case studies, multimedia, and provided round-the-clock social media coverage hitting upon the institution's research strengths, team spirit and alumni success. The campaign achieved great social reach, helped boost brand ranking among 18-24 year old prospective students, and helped generate momentum with alumni donors.
Student Life

23 Entries

Gold Award

Association of Commonwealth Universities (United Kingdom) - Chevening Relay

  • If social media is about building networks and community, this campaign is a complete success. The Chevening Relay challenges 160 international scholarship recipients to pass either a red or blue baton across the UK during the year, traveling to specific scattered locations, contacting Chevening scholars at other universities, posting social photos as proof, and competing against a similar team of scholars with whom they'll meet in London at the end of the year. Promotes brand awareness, travel, relationship building, social engagement, responsibility and teamwork. Great engagement and social numbers.