Social Media has undeniably become a part of our everyday lives. Grandmothers and 12-years old alike are opening Facebook accounts, and there are Facebook pages even for people’s dogs and cats. Companies are using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and other social media sites for marketing and advertising. Universities are now also using social media pages because people are reading and accessing social media sites daily. Even, US president Donald Trump discusses diplomatic issues on twitter. How can universities and colleges best take advantage of the benefits that social media has to offer in our technology-heavy 21st century?
1. Create and Follow a Social Media Policy and Strategy:
Every successful social media account for a university, or for any organization or company requires an effective social media policy and strategy. In order to prevent duplicating information, over or under posting, and posting inaccurate information, it is best practice to work together with your university leaders, student council, social media managers, and your university’s marketing team. Develop guidelines for the promotion of your university on social media, and follow them. Identify who is allowed to post, at what times, and what content is allowed to be posted. Clayton Dean of the HigherEd Marketing Journal suggests that when creating your strategy, you should identify your target market, your marketing goals, and your current use of social media. Be certain to establish not only social media publishing policies but also a schedule.
2. Manage Platforms with Social Media Managers, Organization Leaders, and Student Council
One of the most important factors in running successful social media accounts for universities is identifying who is in charge. Much like any other successful business or organization, there needs to order, appropriate management, and identification of roles. Jylian Russell in her article, “Social Media in Higher Education: Strategies, Benefits, and Challenges,” suggests having a campus-wide media manager. You can consider having one overall social media manager and delegating assignments to various members of the university staff and student body. Regardless of how you choose to run your social media accounts, be certain that nobody is posting the same information twice!
3. Keep Track of Social Media Data and Numbers
Find out what works and track your numbers. What posts get retweeted? What posts get likes and how many? In order to operate fruitful and popular social media accounts for universities, it is best to identify what has been working on your accounts, and what has not been working. Josie Ahlquist recommends making goals based on your data and using key performance indicators. She also highly suggests making weekly goals and maintaining data on your posts. Based on your data you can also adjust your social media strategies.
4. Be the Voice of the University
When writing for your university remember that you are the voice of your university, and what you write is not just a reflection of you, but is also a reflection of your university, logo, and the quality of your school as a whole. Josie Ahlquist also recommends that you respect the university, by maintaining confidentiality, respecting copyright laws, and appropriately citing sources. Don’t take credit for others people’s work and be certain to cite your sources! What you post as a social media coordinator or developer not only affects you but also affects the whole team. Envision your social media strategy and the goals of your university before sending your content to the whole wide web.
5. Post Accurately and Thoughtfully
Being the “voice” of the university also means that you need to carefully consider the content of your writing before you post online. Is the content accurate? Factual? Representative of the opinions of the student body? What sources did you use to obtain your information? Consider that posting on social media for your university is not that different from posting on your own social media accounts. If you post on your own account, you naturally will think about how your message will be received before you post! Josie Ahlquist states accurately, “Think twice before you post!”
Although these are just a few of the best practices for posting on behalf of universities and higher education institutions, these are easily the most important practices to keep in mind. In order to have a clear direction, focused and goal-oriented social media accounts, you should first have an effective and efficient social media management team. Your team should understand how to work together and be aware of your social media strategy and plan. Of course, what is posted must also be written thoughtfully, accurately, and should be representative of the whole student body. Do not forget one population of the student body or staff; make sure you represent everyone that makes your institution great! Be the voice of your university with pride and character! You can make your university shine!