In the first post of this series, Figuring the Why Before the How, we took stock of your available resources, began thinking about what social tools are right for you, and reviewed the various assets you have at your disposal when implementing your social strategy.
The second post, Goals or Objectives, Getting to the heart of the matter, helped us think about what we are trying to achieve and aligning those goals or objectives with those of your organization’s overall communication and knowledge mobilization strategies.
Now, it is time to discover your soapbox. A soap box, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary
, is “something that provides an outlet for delivering opinions.” This is exactly what a social media platform is – a tool, or platform,
that helps you deliver your message across the globe through sharing what matters to you. There are many platforms that help spread your message, but let’s consider some of the more popular ones.
The modern day soapbox:
Each and every social media platform is good at something. Whether it is driving traffic to your website, increasing awareness about your favourite cause, or highlighting what you do, why you do it and how you do it, all social media tools have one thing in common – they are the modern day equivalent of a soapbox, which allow you to spread your message in an increasingly digitized and networked world.
When choosing your soapbox, consider the following:
- which platforms best support your objectives or goals
- which platforms do you have the capacity to implement and maintain
- which resources are available to you
- which resources do you need to acquire to provide unique and valuable content to your networks
Picking your soapbox:
The decision to use a platform or not is one that deserves your thoughtful attention. Make it easier by developing a criteria that is based upon your goals or objectives. Ask yourself about the value you will deliver to your network on the platform and the value that you will receive by being present on this platform. Since you cannot be everywhere, pick one or two platforms and learn them well before adding additional platforms.
Facebook: This social networking site allows users to share and engage with their network. It is made up of communities where people interact with family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and others with similar interests and connections. Users email, video and voice chat, share files, blog, and join discussion groups. Facebook is good for:
- boosting an organization’s visibility
- driving traffic to your website
- encouraging fund raising
- promoting events
- mobilizing and coordinating people
- promoting a cause or idea
- building community around your research or publications
Twitter: This micro-blogging and social networking platform provides real-time information, commentary, and descriptions of events and topics. Users send updates, in 140 characters or less, that are visible to their network on their timeline. Many share links to other information (articles, events, videos, pictures, websites) with their audiences. Twitter is good for:
- developing relationships with your target audience
- connecting with friends, colleagues, and institutions around the globe
- monitoring conversations through hashtags
- sharing helpful information, publications, and learning material
- creating interest about an issue or cause
- driving traffic to your website
YouTube: YouTube is one of the most popular web portals in the world and heralded as the second largest search engine. It allows users to submit videos, find videos by searching for keywords, and share their own ideas and values. YouTube is good for:
- developing expertise
- promoting ideas, products, and services
- raising an organization’s visibility
- showing research in action through short video clips and other animated formats
LinkedIn: This social networking site is the leading online professional directory of individual professionals and companies. It is good for:
researching people, companies, and industries. LinkedIn is also good for:
- searching for jobs and recruiting professionals
- establishing expertise
- networking with members and organizations in your industry
- allowing organizations and individuals to highlight what they do, why they do it, and how they do it through posting updates and developing profiles
- staying up-to-date on the activities of your colleagues
Pinterest: This tool is essentially a digital pinboard – a place where you can collate and share your interests through photos, graphics, or any other visually appealing representation. Pinterest posts have the longest shelf life of any platform. Many pins continue to be shared and commented upon years after their original posting. Pinterest is good for:
- developing and demonstrating your passions and expertise
- increasing web traffic to blogs, websites, photos, publications, and many other digital representations of your work
- helping your content become more visible
- curating content that matters to you and your audience
Instagram: This photo and video sharing platform allows you to showcase your work and tell your story by sharing photos and video.You are instantly creating unique content. As soon as you upload an image or video, your audience can see and engage with your content. Instagram is good for:
- developing trust with your audience by allowing you to show what you do, why you do it, and how do it (puts a face to your work)
- highlighting issues, topics, events, and passions in action
- communicating directly with your audience to build excitement around a topic or about an issue
Tumblr: This micro-blogging tool is a unique type of social network that allows you to share text, video, photos, and other blogs. Tumblr is good for:
- building interactive communities
- curating, or collecting, and sharing web content by “reblogging” or reposting blogs
Google Plus: This platform is Google’s answer to being social. GooglePlus allows more flexibility than Twitter as you are not limited to 140 characters. It uses circles to help you organize your connections and makes it easier to share content that they are interested in. GooglePlus is good for:
- connecting with people with similar interests
- connecting with colleagues and stakeholders through video (Google Hangout)
- exploring who is talking about what and what they think about issues or topics
Wiki: Wikis are spaces on the web where you can share documents, ideas, pictures, links, videos, and media. Wikis are collaborative and allow you to work with teams to capture and share your knowledge. Wikis are good for:
- housing all your content is in one place and making it accessible to a wider audience
- connecting team members across organizations or projects, no matter where they are located
Other social media platforms include: blogs, online forums, and electronic newsletters. Even websites and group email have social elements.
This list is by no means exhaustive. It does give you a place to start when thinking through the platforms that you will use. For a more comprehensive look at social media platforms for academics, I encourage you to check out Professor Andy Miah’s The A to Z of Social Media for Academia. Miah has organized social platforms into a regularly updated alphabetical listing – complete with links and brief descriptions.
Are you social?
- Which platforms do you use?
- What are some of the goals or objectives for being social?
- What value are you delivering or receiving from your networks and social activity?
- How does being social help you spread your message, make the connections that matter, and create knowledge?