This is the first in a series of postings meant to help you figure out a social media strategy that works for you.
Social media works. It is a powerful communication tool that will help you reach your goals. The magic happens once you understand what those goals are and creating a plan that will get you there. Businesses want to connect with their clients and increase sales. Community organizations work to increase donations and amplify their message. Government representatives want to connect with voters and listen to their constituents. Individuals want to connect with like-minded people and find out what’s happening in the world.
The drivers of online activity are different for everyone. This series is meant to help researchers and academics figure out what their goals are, develop a strategy to help them reach those goals, and carry out an evaluation plan that will tell them what works and what doesn’t. What should researchers be doing online? Does being social in the digital space really help? How do you mobilize your knowledge effectively? What sort of connections should you be making? Where do you start?
Let’s start at the beginning
You have a Twitter account and Facebook page. Your blog is ready to go live. Now what? Before you press send on the tweet, post to your Facebook page, or set your thoughts free on your blog, we need to think through your social media goals. Why are you in the digital space? What do hope to achieve? How do you know if the platforms you use and the content you share are performing successfully?
Figuring out the answer to these questions is not any different than the process you use to develop a communications or knowledge mobilization plan. You all ready know how to develop the plan, but are you ready to put it into action?
Step One: Self Assessment
Let’s figure out what factors impact your social activity. The first question to ponder is: What resources are available to you?
- How much time do you have to actively engage in social media? Creating social profiles without being active on the platform hurts you rather than helps you. If you are going to create a Twitter presence, your followers deserve your attention. If you are going to spend the time to develop a Facebook page, your fans deserve to have a conversation with you. If you are going to send your thoughts and perspective into the world through a blog, your readers deserve quality posts that are developed to be interactive. Be sure you have time to acknowledge excellence within your network, share your insights, get to know your followers, and engage in a meaningful way.
- Which social media networks are you familiar with? Do you have a Facebook profile, hangout on Google Plus, tweet about your work, blog about your achievements, share photos of your team, engage in conversations on LinkedIn? Think about the social platforms you personally use and how they might work together with those that your institution uses. It is important to think about your audience. Who are they? Where do they hang out online? Once you figure this out, go to where they are active. Each social network is different and those differences deserve to be celebrated and engaged with.
- What type of content do you have access to and what content do you need to produce? Social media is all about sharing and accessing valuable content. Visuals are popular on most social media platforms and shared more than text-based pieces. Photos, websites, news articles, publications, videos, and infographics are examples of sharable content. It is time to take stock of what you already have and what you need to create. Can you turn that research report into an infographic that is easily shared and understood by your audience? Does your website house reports and publications that are of interest to your community? Are there topics you wish to explore? Do you have content available to share or do you need to create it?
- Who will monitor what is being said on social media and track the social activity of your content? Think about who will manage the implementation of your strategy and the tools they will use to do so. Will you rely on Twitter statistics alone? Will you manage conversations and activity through a third party software like Hootsuite? Even though many of the tools that you will use are free of charge or low cost, the time it takes to implement your strategy effectively is not. Be sure to clearly account for the time you and your team will spend listening to online conversations, developing and sharing content, and thinking about the strategy that lies behind your online activity.
Understanding what you want to accomplish and how you will accomplish it is key to a successful social media strategy. Figuring out what resources are available to you, the most appropriate platforms, and your capacity for social media activity will help you make decisions that will become central to overall strategy.
We will further explore developing your social and digital strategy in future posts. Until then, please leave your thoughts and ask questions in the comment area below.
- What social media platforms do you use?
- Are your digital activities successful?
- What works for you and what doesn’t? Why?