Collaborative approach for Estranged Students Solidarity Week 2023
I love collaborating with colleagues to deliver communications campaigns during relevant awareness days or weeks. In this blog post, I reflect on the collaborative approach that Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) took with our members for Estranged Students Solidarity Week 2023. Whilst it’s not the first time GHWY has done a collaborative social media campaign, it was my first time being involved in one. I learnt a lot along the way!
Firstly, a bit of background to the campaign. Estranged students in Higher Education (HE) may also be referred to as independent students, as they are studying without family support. Estranged Students Solidarity Week ran from 27 November to 1 December 2023 with a theme of ‘With Estranged Students’.
The aim of GHWY’s campaign was to show we are with estranged students: we support HE staff through our free e-learning on understanding and supporting these students, and communicate the support for estranged students in HE through our collaborative Stand Alone Pledge. The Stand Alone Pledge is presided by the Stand Alone charity and demonstrates our commitment.
There are benefits and challenges to collaborative working, which are seen in a collaborative campaign. The benefits are having a wider reach to amplify our great work; learning from each other; and demonstrating our approach to collaborative working to support estranged students.
These benefits are evident through social media analytics. Daily posts for a GHWY-led National Care Leavers Week campaign, which did not have member input, reached around 100 impressions each day on X (formerly Twitter). In contrast, daily posts for our collaborative Estranged Students Solidarity Week campaign, which did have member input, reached around 300 views per day on X (with a peak of 610).
However, there are challenges to collaborative working. This includes ensuring we equally represent the diversity of our 13 members and work together to meet all their different needs. For example, a few of our HE providers are not on UCAS and so we focused less on encouraging ticking the estranged student box on UCAS and more on informing your HE provider so they can provide support.
One of the other challenges was how busy I ended up being during the campaign week. Unlike our usual in-house approach to social media, with the collaborative campaign I sent out content and was the point of contact for all kinds of queries. From that, I now know what to anticipate for the next campaign: content in all formats e.g. videos and images; encouraging sharing of content in newsletters; uploading videos to Vimeo so they can be accessed without a social media account; and confirming where GHWY will share content.
Despite these challenges, I feel that it was a successful collaborative social media campaign and we would be open to building on it for future campaigns. The campaign met our aims, for example, we saw registrations increase during the campaign week for our free e-learning for HE staff. It involved a lot of teamwork and I’m grateful to my colleagues and our members for their help.
Tahera Mayat, GHWY Collaborative Outreach Officer