Part 2: Where to Start
Have Part 1: Social Media Values under your belt? Now it’s time to dig in and get planning.
Is social media right for your communications needs?
Have you ever had someone tell you to create an Instagram account because they saw someone else do it and all the “kids” are on there? Us, too. It is the wrong reason to start a social media channel and can lead to a lot of frustration when your audience doesn’t seem to engage. To avoid this, evaluate if social media is really the right way to get achieve your communications goals. Avoid the temptation to lead your strategy with a decision on a platform before doing your research.
Do the research.
We get that research isn’t the most exciting part of social media work, but it is the most valuable. Conducting native (in-platform) and Google searches for keywords and hashtags that pertain to your area can be insightful. Allow yourself to follow the links, the hashtags, and the tags to find out where people are talking about your topic of interest online. Here are some questions to ask:
- What are my topic keywords?
- What is being said about those keywords on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc?
- What platform is the conversation happening on?
- What is the UC Davis community saying about those keywords (use location searches to help narrow it down!)?
- Have I looked at what the chatter is on Reddit?
- Who has an influential voice on this? Where are they talking online?
- What questions, or hardships, keep coming up with this community?
- What are the community rules or culture around this topic? What is the lingo?
- Are folks mostly keeping to closed groups? How do they help each other out?
- Do I see an absence of chatter? Is that an opportunity?
- What value can my department/group/lab bring to this community to align with our mission?
After going through this exercise, you should have a good handle on what content is interesting, what channels would be the most appropriate, and what value you can bring to your community. If you still think you need advice on the platforms that would be the best fit for your unit or group even after doing your due diligence, please email us or sign up for office hours. We would be happy to help you sort out platform strategy.
Start small, plan big.
Decide where you want to devote your time, evaluating where you would be able to make the biggest impact. If you’re just getting started, we recommend focusing on one-to-two social networks that make the most sense for your key audience and goals. Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach, such as using the same content on all of your channels. Itwon’t likely boost engagement because the content is not catered to specific audiences, and the community online sees through that tactic. Think ahead to what your account could look like after a year, and what staffing you might need as your community grows.
Assemble your team.
Have a team of at least two people in place to oversee account maintenance. This should include permanent staff, but also consider students in your roster. You want to go on vacation sometimes, right? Have backups and be sure to record your login information in a secure place to avoid being locked out of your account.
Gather the right tools.
Apps, like Facebook Pages Manager and Twitter, are helpful to have on your phone for general account maintenance and engagement on-the-go. Ask for a work-issued mobile phone – it is going to be your most important tool in creating and managing your social media accounts. Software such as Hootsuite helps to schedule content, shorten links, monitor/analyze posts and much more. Check out our list of shared tools on campus for more resources that will make your social media life easier and more efficient, especially as your social begins to scale up.
Brainstorm and organize.
Go through the process of putting on paper what your general content themes will be, what and how you will post, and how you will respond. Don’t forget to give some thought to what the tone and voice of your profile will be. Will you be all business? Fun? Friendly and optimistic? Make these decisions and put them down on paper to help your team know how to frame the content. We have some tools for this, including a “content framework” template and a template content calendar that you can access through our Brain Trust. Leave enough flexibility in your schedule for unplanned news, events and announcements.