Jordan Kenny, CIPR Education and Skills Committee Member, attended our Purposeful social media workshop in May led by Loughborough University. Here are some key lessons from the day:
Ask yourself, what do you want to gain from using social media? Is it student recruitment or simply to engage with your audience directly? Whatever your goal, here are few simple rules you can use to help navigate the social media quagmire.
For purposeful social media it is important to have clear objectives! The need for social media is clear, as are the benefits. However, there is no point in being on it “just cause”…your audience will see through this straight away and immediately disengage. Therefore, it is imperative to know who you’re targeting and why. Then you can build a robust following based on a solid foundation which will make future engagement even easier.
Content is king!
Words will always be important. But images and videos are fundamental for successful social media engagement. But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean creating slick, super high-quality videos with Spielberg –esque production values. Sometimes it can simply mean pointing your phone in the direction of the action, recording it and sharing. Also, don’t just broadcast. Engage. Be proactive in finding opportunities for content and use them. Get it in the bank for any future events and engagement.
One of the huge benefits of working in the education and skills sectors (especially at schools, colleges and universities) is there is always opportunity to generate and create content – and you could always ask your students to be your social media street team too. Open days, media visits or even simple science experiments can often boost the ‘likes’. Boomerangs and GIFs also provide the perfect opportunity to diversify your social media output.
Once you have created the content. It is time to plan! Like your objectives, outline clear opportunities for pre, during and post event social media. Also match your content to a timeline, monitor activity and respond in real-time. But when reacting to activity on the day it is also important to be innovative and be flexible.
Choose the correct platforms. This, again, reflects on what your institution/organisation needs and objectives are and the audiences you want to engage with. Ask yourself, do you really need that Pinterest page? If the answer is yes, then by all means have one. But do your due diligence. Sometimes less is more. If you only need and/or can manage Facebook and twitter accounts, just use those platforms. But if you’re generating plenty of pictures, perhaps it is time to switch to Instagram. The more platforms you have the more content you need and the more work that is for you. If you can manage multiple platforms, then it’s no problem. But, if not, keep it simple.
Tell a story
Storytelling is nothing new in communications and media relations, but the idea of social storytelling is becoming increasingly popular. So, how can your organisation capitalise on this? It is about bringing together content from number of digital channels and including user generated content alongside your own. The key is to inspire. Create an emotion and be memorable! Stories enable you to build a personality and create a sense of connection with your audiences and social media is the best way to do that.