Integrating a blog or Twitter feed onto your homepage is a great way to add dynamic content to your web site, but social media is not something you rush into. Whether it’s blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram, once you open an account on behalf of your department or school, you’ve committed yourself to regularly communicating in a very public medium.
An abandoned blog or rarely-updated Facebook page does more harm than good from a public relations perspective. Expectations are that you will blog at least once a week, update Facebook at least once a day, and tweet several. In addition, your followers will expect responses to their comments and questions in a timely manner. Have you really thought this through?
It’s Not All About You
The social in social media is about relationship-building, not self-promotion. Users are there to keep up with friends and family, network with colleagues, learn about trends in their industry, stay abreast of news and current events, and be entertained, not to be marketed to.
In the private sector, a best practice is the 80/20 rule. 80% of your social media content should be informational/educational with just 20% about your product or service. In higher education, our product is information and education so the distinction is less clear, but the message is the same. Don’t make it all about you.
What Do You Bring to the Table?
Think beyond promoting your events and touting your students and engage your audience in topics related to your expertise.
- Highlight work being done by others in your field
- Share tips and advice
- Point readers to resources
- Curate related content from other blogs
- Retweet relevant tweets on Twitter; share relevant posts on Facebook
Other Strategies for Managing Social Media
Share the burden. Recruit other members of your department to contribute content regularly. Also, create a schedule for each author to be “on duty” checking in and moderating comments.
Create a social media calendar. Take it a month at a time. Plan content and assign responsibility.
Schedule in advance. Tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck allow you to schedule Facebook posts and tweets ahead of time so your accounts can be updated even when you’re away. You can also post-date and schedule blog entries.