Does your organization really need a robust social media strategy? Notice that I’m not asking, “do you need social media?” As I shared in my previous blog, I think it’s pretty firmly established that social media is here to stay and we need to adapt our branding and marketing efforts around this new reality. No, what I’m asking is whether or not you really need a defined, articulated strategic plan, complete with goals and milestones, for your social media efforts. And of course the answer is yes!
Creating a strategy for your social media does not have to take an enormous amount of time; in fact, it can probably be accomplished in one meeting. Your social media plan can start as simply as a single-page document that covers the following areas:
What’s the purpose of your social media channel? What do you want it to accomplish?
Who are you trying to reach? Usually it’s more than one group (current students/employees, prospective students/employees, staff, parents, the community at large, etc.), so you’ll want to define a hierarchy of your audience segments and tailor your posts accordingly.
What platforms are you planning to use (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.)? What is your primary channel? Will you be linking your secondary platforms to automatically repost everything from the primary channel or will they show different content?
What kind of posts will you make? For example, you may create a list of ideas like teacher/staff recognition posts, links to relevant articles, info for current students such as application deadlines and closings, program tour pictures, student spotlights, contests, career fairs and events, school visits, graduating class pictures, promotion of charity drives and community events, and much more. Think of everything positive happening within your organization and how you can show it to the world.
Another content-related question is how do you make hashtags work for you? First, keep them short and simple. Encourage people to share their own pictures and experiences using your hashtag (and reshare/retweet the good ones). Hashtags can be a great way to build interactions and engage your audience.
Is your brand professional or playful? Do you want to be funny or earnest (or both)? If you were the person on the other end, what style and voice would be the most memorable to you? What personality should your posts convey? How can you ensure that your social media voice aligns with the big picture of your overall brand?
How often do you plan to post? How quickly do you want to respond to comments and private messages? How early in advance do you want to create and promote events? For organizational accounts, you can take advantage of post scheduling features that will make it easy to keep up whatever pace you choose.
Who is going to run the social channel, and who will back that person up? Be sure to choose someone who has strong communication skills, an eye for spelling and grammar, and a passion to promote your organization online. Keep in mind that your social media does not have to be a one-person show; you can enlist others to contribute by snapping pictures and brainstorming post ideas.
Maybe your organization has tried to build a social media presence and the effort fizzled due to low engagement or other reasons. I submit to you that if you’re not currently promoting your benefits on social media, it’s time to take another look at making that happen. Social media is not going away any time soon, and it’s worth the investment of time and energy to get your voice out there. It’s easier than you think— building your brand and engaging your audience right where they’re at!