Success on a social media sight does not just happen. It is not like the field of dreams. The phrase, "Build it and they will come." is a far stretch from the reality of engaging on social media. Whether it is for your own personal branding or for a department/college/institution, a plan must be made long before you take any actions. Based on several posts, readings, and just conversations with folks, here is the strategy plan I developed through answering my own key questions.
Who is your target audience? When you go about crafting your content, who are you making it for? If you don't have a target audience, you are essentially just talking because you like to hear yourself. By being able to focus and be real small at first, you will be able to establish good practices for when it is time to expand.
What is the content that you are hoping to share? There is a wide variety of content that you can share with someone. A news article, a photo, information about the department, and even events coming up. It is this content focus that really helps determine your platforms/sites.
Who is going to manage the content? Some institutions have policies on who can be the administrator or even further, policies about how to become a institution official page. Are you going to be able to have students be the administrator? Is it going to have to be a full time employee? More than one full time employee?
What is your posting "schedule" look like? Post daily, twice a week, multiple times in a day, whatever. The most important part is to identify that you are going to post your content regularly.
What site/platform/tool are you going to use? Notice this is the fifth question, not the first. It is based on what you what to share, how often you want to share, and who is doing the sharing. Also notice that site and platform are single. Again, start small so you can develop the good habits. It is okay if you end up expanding your social media toolbox after a few weeks, but it should be determined by a need, not the fact that everyone else has everything. Remember your audience.
How is your process going to work? From finding the content, to crafting the message, to getting it out to your audience, there needs to be a process. Is this where you can allow students to assist? Do you provide extra training to extra hands? This is the piece that brings everything together and is the point when completed that you can say that you are ready to give this a shot.
It seems simple and common sense. How often do you find a page that ends up being abandoned, or the last post was from 4 months ago? To me, that is more catastrophic that not being on social media in the first place. It is a commitment, and a process. Most of all, it is one big strategy plan long before the first post goes out.
So, my position is about two months in and both of my departments that I work with are on social media. The one department has a Facebook Page that started a week after I started the position. Here is one piece to the overall strategy, and it the process by which content goes from conversation to making the Facebook Page.
The first tier is the Facebook Administrators. They include myself and another full time staff member. We are primary for creating and making sure the content goes out throughout the week. We are also responsible for monitoring the site for any spam messages.
The second tier is our student employees. We have two, one in education and one in sales and marketing. We do not let them post directly as the department. They are welcome to contribute as themselves. We do however want them to be a part of the process and they can create posts using a Google Form. All it does is honestly gives an extra set of eyes to proofread their work. If it looks good, we copy and paste.
The third tier is our Faculty. Some of our faculty are very in tune with technology and social media. They post their announcements and resources straight to the page. Some faculty want nothing to do with it, and while I can argue for reasons for, I also respect their decisions. All they simply have to do is get the resource/announcement/content/whatever to either the student employees or the Facebook Administrators. If the faculty member wants to craft the message, great, but more importantly, they are engaged in building the community with our students.
So far, it is working very well. The student employees are having fun, my work is a little easier, and we collectively as a department are moving towards better sharing information/resources with our students.