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xiang chen - things we do for broken in shoes (Flickr)

xiang chen – things we do for broken in shoes (Flickr)

The old proverb about the barefoot shoemaker is, alas, a rule in Italy (and not only here). However, encouraging exceptions are emerging. There are quite few universities offering postgraduate courses aimed to get a better reputation and more sales employing new marketing tools, such as digital and social media. Funny enough (or tragically enough) almost none uses what they teaching to became popular and selling effectively. Something, though, is changing.

The reputation of Italian universities is very low. In the last Times Higher Education reputation report there are no Italian universities. Only nineteen countries appear in this ranking . Among them, the “giants” USA, UK, Japan and Canada, some small but excellent countries like Turkey, Israel, Russia, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong; only Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and France among European countries (beyond UK). If we consider only the European reputation ranking, the first Italian universities are over the 250 place: University Statale of Milan, University Bicocca of Milan and University of Trieste are the top three. In the ranking only thirteen countries appear among the top 250 places (in order of appearance): United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark and Austria within the first 200, Spain, Russia and Norway after.

This alone would be enough to force our universities to undertake a marketing strategy . The fierce budget cuts (most of the Italian university are State-owned) should push them to a massive use of digital marketing, in general, and content marketing, in particular. Unfortunately, most of Italian universities does not even have a digital presence . The few that possess it are limited to a marginal presence on Facebook , Twitter and Youtube, with institutional content distributed rather than valuable content offered to potential customers. Thus showing that more than do social media marketing they rather do marketing on social media.

Content Marketing is mostly missing for universities. If look for “universities blog” on a search engine the results draw up a not encouraging picture. The same happens if we search for “social media master” or “digital marketing”. There are few exceptions, though. IULM, University Statale of Milan, Catholic University, LUISS shows up a significant content marketing presence.

Among these exceptions The Communication School of IULM has applied to itself a set of strategies and practices which are among those taught in the in Social Media Marketing and Web Communication Master:

  1. The domain “” was secured in order to gain the top positions on search engines for relevant keywords (in our search “social media master”, IULM occupies the first position);
  2. They are on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, like some other universities;
  3. There is a blog, updated and point of reference for students and for the all community.
Master in Social Media Marketing - IULM

Master in Social Media Marketing – IULM

Moreover the department digital strategy is affecting the entire university. IULM home page, although institutional, contains social buttons (including Flickr). Even without a specific blog, there’s a News section with the share buttons.

What’s happening in IULM doesn’t just affect its web site. Recently a IULM professor won a Fulbright scholarship for a very ambitious research at MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The “news” that announced it has a different tone from the typical press release. The news informed us that “during the nine months that Professor Manzotti will pass in the Department of Philosophy and Linguistics at MIT, he will tell the story of his experience posting on University Facebook page and uploading video on IULM Youtube channel. A nice change of pace, which I hope will be copied by other educational institutions.

You also know you have some cases where what is taught was employed by the educational institution? Write them to me in the comments below.

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