Tips for Managing Your Social Media Profile
When deciding to create a social media profile, it is important to take into consideration the resources you have available and what the best fit is for your brand. It is far better to maintain one excellent social media account than to be on all platforms and posting and interacting infrequently.
To determine whether social media is a good fit for your department, office or organization, ask yourself the following questions:
- What goals does my department, office or organization have?
- How will social media help me achieve those goals?
- What audience am I trying to reach? What social media platforms does this audience use?
- Am I open to being “social” with social media? Am I prepared to allow, monitor and engage with fan feedback, both positive and negative?
- What resources do I have available for creating, monitoring, maintaining and engaging with this profile and platform?
- How am I going to publicize this social media presence?
- How often can I realistically post new content on behalf of my department, office or organization?
- How comfortable do I, and other administrators, feel using this platform?
After answering these questions, make sure you have read Northwest’s social media policies and the faculty and staff handbooks, as applicable:
Before you start a page, be sure to “listen” for a bit. Follow your competitors or similar organizations. Observe the type of posts that are successful in engaging followers.
If you have a department, office or organization profile that you would like to be an official Northwest profile, please fill out this social media request form. The benefits to being an official page include listing on Northwest’s social media directory, cross promotion on Northwest’s main social media accounts, the ability to request an officially-designed profile picture from the Office of University Marketing and Communication, and access to meetings with Katie Machovsky to discuss ideas and tips for social media.
Best Practices for Frequency of Posting
To keep visitors coming to your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, blog accounts and more, you must be posting frequently. The amount you post depends on the format you use. For example:
- Posting daily on Facebook is ideal. Multiple times per day can be permitted, but there must be a minimum of 3 hours between posts or your previous posts will be buried in news feeds. Facebook now has a built-in schedule function on the posts, so it is possible to schedule posts in advance. For example, you may decide to post a week’s worth of posts on Monday, scheduling the remainder to post through the rest of the week. However, if you do this, make sure you continue to monitor your Facebook page daily for any questions, comments and feedback. For more on Facebook’s built-in post scheduler: http://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=389849807718635
- Posting daily on Twitter is a must. Interacting on Twitter daily is a must and includes responding to messages, retweeting mentions, participating in hashtag (#) trends and posting original content. A hashtag trend to consider is "Follow Friday," in which case you would recommend following other Twitter accounts. This not only leads your followers to interesting accounts, but also increases publicity for you by encouraging others to list your account on "Follow Friday." To learn more about hashtags and "Follow Fridays": https://support.twitter.com/articles/49309-what-are-hashtags-symbols
- Posting several times per week on Google+ is expected, and multiple times per day is acceptable. Google+ is a platform for sharing particularly news stories and other links, and it is not as acceptable to post status-type updates as it is on Facebook or Twitter.
- Post at least once per week on blogs. This helps keep your readers interested and active posting increases your search engine rankings.
- Post as much as you want on Pinterest. It is acceptable to ‘pin’ 20 items in a row on Pinterest, every 6 hours. People expect a constant flow of changing content. It is acceptable to post multiple times per day, or to post in a flurry once per week.
So now that you know how frequently posts are expected, what type of content should you post? Here’s a list of ideas for departments and organizations across campus.
- This date in history posts can help generate ideas for you. You could use University history dates or dates specific to your own department.
- Post questions for your users that are pertinent to your department or organization. This creates two-way dialog and can increase your visibility. Some examples could be – the Department of Language, Literature and Writing could ask followers what books they are currently reading; the Department of Agricultural Sciences could ask if followers have had experience with cover crops or a particular kind of seed; the Department of Business could ask what small company followers love and why. The possibilities are endless. Start a discussion and position yourself as the experts on this topic.
- Share University news releases that pertain to your department (scholarships, student groups, alumni success stories).
- Share any Paw to Paw submissions your department has on pawtopaw.org.
- Share external news stories that are related to your department or organization and ask for feedback. Stories could be from your area’s literary journal, a study released that was in a major newspaper, a profile on a unique business – anything that fits your target market. Ask for feedback on the story or opinions. (Avoid very controversial issues)
- Post any events your department or organization is sponsoring.
- Take photos throughout the week of your department or organization’s activities. You don’t need a fancy camera to do this – a cell phone camera can work. If you have permission, tag any students/faculty/staff in your post so their friends can see too.
- Ask a student to keep a blog about your department – share your blog posts on your other social media platforms.
- Congratulate graduating students and students who have accepted interesting jobs or internships.
- Retweet positive things that are being said about your department or organization on Twitter.
- Ask for recommendations on Facebook, share your favorites.
- Have trivia about your department or organization. (Samples: How many pounds of seed did the School of Agricultural Sciences plant this year? How many faculty members are in the Department of Natural Sciences? What’s the placement rate for the School of Education? What concert did the Office of Student Involvement sponsor in 1988?)
- Ask students what their favorite class in your department is and why.
- Post about your student who is from the farthest away from Maryville, and the student who is the closest to Maryville.
- Post study abroad opportunities or internship opportunities.
- Highlight alumni with interesting careers.
- Ask for input and ideas for improvement.
- Promote other departments and organizations across campus. Help each other out.
- Say thank you at big milestones – when you reach 100 fans/followers, 500, 1,000 – etc.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. Be creative! Most importantly, before you post content, ask yourself if this is the type of content your audience expects to see on social media, and if your content is worthy of sharing with others.
How to Engage with Your Users
Even more important than the content of your postings is your interaction with your followers. Social media should be considered a forum for two-way communication, and not just broadcasting your own posts. What does this mean for you, and how should this look for your department, organization or office?
- Respond quickly to questions posted on your profiles. The complexity of the question and the profile the question is posted on factor into the expectation for the response turnaround, however, responses are typically expected as soon as possible, and within 24 hours at all times.
- Do not automatically delete negative comments. Take these comments as feedback and respond to the complaint. How you respond will depend on the nature of the complaint. In general, it is best to publicly acknowledge the complaint. If it is not something that can be solved in a public forum, acknowledge the comment/complaint and tell the person how you will follow up with them offline. (This is especially important regarding FERPA issues. Do not publicly address items involving grades, for example.) This shows others that you are listening to feedback and serving your customers. Then, make sure you do follow up! You can follow up in a private message on social media, through an email or through a phone call. By engaging, you can de-escalate a complaint before it gets out of hand. If you have questions about how to handle a negative comment, feel free to contact University Marketing and Communication for guidance.
- Acknowledge all comments. If someone compliments your office, department or organization, say thank you!
- Delete any spam posts or commercial advertisements for products unrelated to Northwest. Delete any libelous or slanderous material (items that name, say, individual professors or students and speak negatively about them). Delete any material that is in violation of FERPA. Delete content that is inappropriate for your audience. (If you have followers under 21, for example, delete any references to alcohol.) When you delete something (with the exception of spam posts), when possible send a private message to the account of the individual whose post you have deleted and explain why it was deleted. This can help diffuse a situation or prevent them from making the same posting mistake again.
- When possible, check in with your social media profiles even on the weekends. Users expect interaction, so you want to continue to thank them for positive comments and continue to address negative comments quickly.