Now that you know your audience and what you want to communicate to them, you can make an educated decision on which networks to join.
There are best practices for each network but some overarching principles apply across all social media platforms:
- Know your audience. Don’t waste time developing a presence on LinkedIn if professional relationships aren’t the kind of relationships you are trying to build.
- Know the post frequency your audience expects from you on any given network, and maintain consistency. As your audience begins to rely on your content, consistency becomes even more crucial.
- Share admin permissions with more than one person in your office. If you were to suddenly fall off of the face of the earth, your social media presence should remain consistent. Also, if someone leaves the office suddenly, you don’t want that person to be the only one with the keys to the castle.
- Request a specific department-based email account to start your networks. Do not start any social media account for your office or department with your personal email account. As mentioned previously, the network should be able to survive staff changes; you also don’t want to increase the risk of posting as yourself on an official account.
- If the content isn’t yours, and you aren’t sure if you have permission to post it, err on the side of caution and just don’t do it. If you have a question about content permissions, email firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will be able to point you in the right direction.
The following section is an overview of best practices for the six main channels we think would be most important for you to consider, including information about profile image dimensions, the different content types supported, and the average post frequency you should anticipate.
Keep in mind that the more networks you join, the more time you will have to dedicate to producing and promoting content.
YouTube is the largest video-sharing website that allows users to upload and share videos. The website is a host to millions of user-generated videos. Video blogging, original videos, and educational videos are just some of the content you can find there. While there are other video-sharing sites (like Vimeo) YouTube is the most recognizable.
Content type/frequency: Videos are fantastic for branding as well as education (and entertainment. Any content, information, tutorials, etc. that may be easily digested in a video is good.
- When using your phone to make a video, always hold it horizontal. The quality will be better and the viewing experience improved.
- Don’t let videos get too long. The ideal video length is about 3 minutes.
- Engage people in the comments section, and when possible, collaborate with other channels when making videos.
Things to Remember: Building up a library of video content can be intimidating. Remember that the most important thing is to KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Videos should be useful (and fun!). Be mindful and regulate the comments section.
Twitter is a social network that is based on brevity where users are allowed no more than 140 characters in each post. Due to the content’s temporary nature (posts are sorted chronologically, with newer content pushing older content out), Twitter is often seen as a ‘real time’ platform good for in the moment updates.
Content type/frequency: Short
- If someone follows you, follow him or her back. Twitter is about engagement so talk to your followers in a conversational fashion.
- Jump on the bandwagon with trends like #tbt (Throw Back Thursday) or #FF (Follow Friday) but only in genuine ways that add value to the conversation. But keep hashags to one or two per tweet.
- Use visuals as much as you can when publishing updates
Things to Remember: The shorter a tweet, the better it will be received. Hashtags originated on Twitter, so they are supported.
With over 1 billion active users, Facebook is the largest social media network in the world, and all organizations would benefit for any organization interested in utilizing social media. Most people have personal Facebook profiles, but these are different than the Facebook Page you’ll create for your organization.
Content type/frequency: There are four main types of posts: photos, videos, link, and text-only “status updates.” Photos and videos tend to have higher levels of engagement than just text. You can also create “events,” notes, or even custom apps on your page.
- Mention or “tag” other Pages to increase your visibility and increase engagement
- Regularly use the Facebook Analytics and Insights page to measure the success of your content and tailor it to have the most success with your audience.
- Always include a call to action, or a reason for people to engage with you.
Things to Remember: Facebook gives several different types of user roles/permissions for each page. Hashtags are recognized, but are not widely used. The Facebook “algorithm” that determines what content shows up in someone’s NewsFeed is constantly changing, so keep up with the latest tips.
Instagram is a social media app used to posting photos that can be linked to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare accounts. Photos can be instantly edited and filters can be applied to create a vintage or professional look.
- Share beautiful photos that express who you are online
- Focus on aesthetics rather than pure marketing
- Use a collage app when documenting an event with many photos
Things to Remember: Instagram is not a web-based platform, so you must post photos from their mobile app. When responding to comments use the individual’s handle or they won’t be notified of your response. Instagram supports hashtags.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, used widely for professional personal branding, job searching, and networking. In addition to personal profiles, the site is home to company pages as well as groups, where online networks and communities grow and discuss topics relevant to their fields. Given the audience and purpose of the page, LinkedIn is not for every organization.
Content type/frequency: Content on LinkedIn should be high quality and centered on professional topics.
- Groups are a good place for expanding your networks, sharing ideas and advertising for specific jobs.
- If you’re looking to pay to post a position online, work with central HR to get a discount on the posting (which is good for 30 days).
- Creating a company/showcase page is a good way to highlight the more professional accomplishments of your organization.
Things to Remember: LinkedIn is a professional network. By setting up a personal LinkedIn page, you can boost your own credibility and that of your organization through association. LinkedIn strongly opposes hashtags.
Pinterest is a website that allows you to “pin” things online, just as you would pin them on a physical bulletin board.
- Create boards that inspire the imagination
- Pinterest works well for lead generation when it comes to prospective students and alumni. Keep a list of the influencers interacting with your brand. They want to know more about you
- Stay between 100 and 200 characters when writing an update on Pinterest