Below are suggested steps to help your department develop and stick with a successful social marketing strategy.
Step 1: Analyze current social media presence
- What networks are you currently using?
- Are there other networks worth considering?
- Are all accounts/groups/pages optimized with current information, imagery, etc.?
- How do accounts compare to competitors?
Step 2: Document your ideal audience
- Be as specific as possible
- Answer the following questions about your audience:
- Most used social network
- Problems they need solved
- If there are multiple groups, try to narrow to two specific identities
- Once you have two, focus each piece of content on one or the other. Don't split the difference with general content.
Step 3: Create a social media mission statement
- Think about what makes you unique (location, programs, degrees offered, etc.)
- Focus on what you offer to your audience, not on what they offer you.
- This should drive all future content. If it doesn't fit your mission, don't post it. People follow specialists, not generalists.
Step 4: Create a persona for your social media presence
- Think about what an expert in your field looks like
- Find a voice and stick with it. Don't be humorous in one post and deadly serious in another unless the subject matter dictates it.
- Don't force a voice that will be uncomfortable or hard to maintain.
- Be personable and helpful without forcing humor or other emotion.
- Be professional but less structured than you would be in standard marketing material.
- For most academic departments, it probably makes sense to focus on a professorial personality.
Step 5: Identify success metrics
- How will you measure your performance?
- Focus on quality, not quantity. It's more important to have fewer engaged followers than lots of followers who just ignore your content.
- Key analytics should include:
- Relative Engagement - What percentage of your followers are engaging with posts?
- Organic Reach - How many people say your content in their news feed, ticker, or on your page without paid promotion. This includes followers and those who don't follow you directly.
- Mentions - Are others referring to your profiles or linking directly to your content?
- Audience growth is great but shouldn't be your main goal. If it doesn't come from genuine interest, followers may not engage with future content.
Step 6: Create and curate content
- Once you've identified goals and audience, focus all content on those.
- Don't post content if it doesn't fit your mission.
- It's important to post fairly often, but don't post content that doesn't fit your department just to meet a quota.
Step 7: Track and analyze metrics
- Pay attention to your key measurements
- Look at what types of content performs best.
- Do posts with photos perform better?
- What subject matter really draws in followers?
- Does content that posts a question or asks for an opinion perform better than just presenting facts?
- Let the data lead you.
- Go back through steps 1-6 after you've had some time to collect and analyze data.
- Does your mission need to change?
- Is your audience whom you thought it was?