Wednesday June 22, 2016

How social are you?

By Michaela Eames and Michelle Tedford

How social are you? With so many channels available, that’s completely up you.

Since using social media as an office, department or organization is different than using it as an individual, we’ve provided some points for you to consider regarding some of the most popular social channels. But before you choose, it’s helpful to answer the following questions:


In answering these questions, you will sketch out a social media strategy that will help lead you to the right channels — and to communicate more effectively with larger audiences.

Blog:  Blogs allow space and venue to expound on subjects in greater depth and breadth. It is a place to be an opinion leader; to impart information or expertise; to wax poetic; to explore new ideas. Be aware that your content and length still must warrant your reader’s time and investment, so write concisely and well. Your voice can be personalized to your content. Blogs are search-engine friendly, so the smart blogger will tag a post with categories and keywords for maximum effect. It can also attract more readers to your other web content. Unless you develop a cult following — and we hope that you do — your audience is unlikely to develop expectations on post frequency. If the comments section is turned on, you must be responsive. You can promote posts through other social channels, which can then help you hit all demographic audiences and drive readers to your site.

Twitter: This microcontent channel specializes in posts that are immediately and publicly accessible. You must build your audience to reach audience; strategies include following others, using handles and hashtags in your posts to widen your potential audience, and following back those who follow you. Do not allow tumbleweed to gather on your Twitter channel. Note there is a high expectation from your audience for frequent posts and immediate interaction with mentions and direct messages; two to three posts per day is generally considered best. Posts should be authentic and have a conversational voice. There is a greater risks with such immediate channels that you will be confronted with questions, unsolicited feedback and troll comments. It is wise to consider such possibilities and decide who will respond to them and how. Twitter is popular among wide demographic, and Millennials are the largest group. Enriched media such as pictures, video and GIFs will increase the reach and engagement of a tweet, while links are also appropriate for the channel as many use Twitter as source for news.

Instagram: This is a fast-growing platform with expanding capabilities in photo and video sharing and messaging. It is accessed almost exclusively on phones. Geotagging makes your images relevant and places them in context, and tagging the accounts of others will help you build your audience. It is good to pick a point of view and stick with it (you can mix photos of you as photographer and as the one photographed, as long as the caption is always first person). Style expectations include: informal, playful, enlightening, insider’s view. Your audience will expect posts once a week to once a day (younger demo skews toward highly curated, less frequent posts). Your audience also expects you to interact with others when they tag you. Instagram is widely popular, with the number of daily users now equal to Twitter’s monthly rate, and is most rapidly growing among current and prospective students.

Facebook: Nearly half of all social media users in the U.S. use Facebook each month. This channel does it all well: provides updates; shares information through links; displays photo albums; embeds videos; and even provides live-streaming. When you create Facebook content as a page, instead of as an individual, you have access to statistics to help you understand your audience; use them to refine your messaging type, length and timing for maximum effect with your audience. The mix of media and message lengths provides flexibility not found in other channels. Facebook is also good for sharing posts of others, which is recommended for building your audience. Your audience will expect two to three posts a week, as well as interaction with audience comments and posts to your page. You have a wide potential audience, but be aware that the audience is slightly older than that of other channels. Just because you place it on Facebook does not mean that your audience will see it — since you are a page, Facebook may push your post to less than 10% of your followers. Facebook constantly changes its algorithms, which determine who sees your content when. Content that attracts greater engagement gets a larger audience, so consider creating content that is shareable or that asks for your audience’s participation. If you want to ensure your audience will see your post, purchase an ad.

Snapchat: This is an excellent channel for reaching a younger demographic, especially ages 13 to 25. While is has 6 percent of the daily users Facebook does, Snapchat broadcasts 7 billion video clips a day. Its audience expects your posts to be fun, authentic and short. Posting a “My Story” allows all your followers to view it for 24 hours. Use your other social channels to tell your audiences to follow you on Snapchat and provide them with your username, snapcode and “add me!” URL, as the Snapchat search is not robust. When creating content, use both photos and videos, and dress up images with text, themes, stickers and filters. Offer behind-the-scenes views or other content that adds value to your channel and makes your audience want to follow you for information they can get nowhere else. It is also good for notifying your audience about upcoming events with as little as a moment’s notice. There is no expectation on post frequency, but don’t sit dark too long.

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