Creating Your Social Media Account
A word of caution: Social media is a commitment.
Too often social media endeavors fail because they start off strong but fall flat. If you do not have daily content to provide or do not have the time to interact with your followers on a daily basis, you are better off filtering your information through official College social media channels.
Since there are little to no budget or technical barriers to creating a social media account, many individuals and groups believe they should create and manage their own social media presence. In many cases, this is not the ideal path. However, because we in OMC recognize that many organizations want to have their own social media presence, we have included some tips and guidelines, below.
Here we'll discuss:
- Decide if Social Media is Right for Your Group
- Getting Started
- Promoting Your Social Media Account
- Getting Help
1. Decide if Social Media is Right for Your Group
Please consider the following before creating a new Elizabethtown College-affiliated social media account:
- What is the primary goal of this social media account? How will you measure those goals?
- Are there any other social media accounts with which your new account will compete? Is there really a need for this separate account?
- What other marketing channels are you currently using and how are they working? How will social media be used differently?
- Who is going to manage the account? And what happens if and when the selected admin graduates or leaves the group? How will your succession planning work?
- What content will you share, and do you have a strategic plan in place to schedule and create this content?
- How often will the account be checked for feedback? And who will be charged with responding to feedback?
- Will your social media account provide valuable content to its users on a consistent basis, and who will create this content?
- How will you promote the account to gain a following?
It is important to note that in a social media audit/inventory of Elizabethtown College-related social media accounts/pages performed by the Office of Marketing and Communications in the summer of 2012, a shocking number of abandoned accounts were uncovered. For this reason, our office strongly cautions groups from being too eager to create accounts that will not be maintained. If an account has just a few followers or friends and there are no timely updates, it is most likely not worth the time and effort.
Because of the planning and work involved in the aforementioned considerations, we strongly suggest contributing to the conversation/community via the existing, official Elizabethtown College social media accounts. Please take to heart these concerns; it is not good for your group or your audience to simply "set it and forget it."
2. Getting Started
If you choose to start your own social media page, the marketing and communications team can consult with you to help set up and shape your account. You may download, complete and submit a project request form (found on our website) to request this assistance. To get you started, here are some important practices to follow.
- Establish clear goals for your social media account. Do not just sign up for an account just to have one; this is counterproductive.
- Use Elizabethtown College or E-town College in your account's official name so that people can find it. People use search features on social media channels, and if you aren't named properly, you will not be found.
- Be conversational. Leave academic and marketing speak at the door. Instead, make your updates as if they are coming from a person. You can use your profile section of Facebook or Twitter to highlight the person or people making updates on behalf of the account.
- Provide relevant and valuable information to your audience; don't overwhelm them with shameless self promotion. Keep a balance between official and "just for fun" posts.
- Encourage participation. Create calls to action. Talk back to your audience. Remember that social media is a two-way medium and building relationships in key.
- Regularly update your account. Creating it is the easy part. Plan to devote time each day to this. Yes. Daily.
- Refer to the College's visual identity guide and editorial style guides for proper use of graphics and messaging.
In addition to these general tips, we've provided a few additional suggestions based on the individual social media channels Twitter and Facebook.
3. Promoting Your Social Media Account
Social media would not be very social if there were no followers. More often than not, it takes time to build a following. Don't get discouraged if you don't have 100 likes or 50 followers within a few days of creating your account. Also, the quality of your followers is far more important than the quantity.
Tip: Get listed in the Elizabethtown College Social Media Directory
To be eligible, your account(s) must be active and adhere to our branding standards; this will be monitored regularly and inactive accounts will be removed.
There are many additional ways to promote your social media account:
- Suggest Facebook page to friends using the tool provided by Facebook.
- If you use Facebook and Twitter, promote the use of one on the other.
- On Twitter, the best way to gain followers is to follow people.
- Use built-in email contact importers to find people to like, friend or follow.
- Include the URL to your social media pages on printed materials.
- Include a link to your social media pages from your website and email signature.
- Tell people in passing; word of mouth still works in this digital age.
- As you share valuable information, your followers and users will begin to share your posts; this will inherently lead to more exposure – and more followers/likes.
For every like or follower you get, remember that people also can unlike and unfollow. Once you have an audience, you must retain this audience. The best way to do so is follow the advice outlined in the Getting Started section of this guide: regularly provide relevant content.
4. Getting Help
Now that you have an idea of how to effectively use social media and are more aware of how these channels can help you personally and professionally, it’s time to get started! For those looking for further help with social media, the Office of Marketing and Communications provides the following services.
- Consulting for creation/management of College-related social media accounts
- Promoting select events through official College social media channels
- Listing of your social media account(s) on College social media directory
- Creation of cover photos and custom Twitter backgrounds for approved accounts
- Social media best practices training workshops (individual or for your group—or even class) on general social media use, or focused on a specific medium: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Flickr.
- Assistance in implementing links/ banners to promote your social media site from your section of www.etown.edu. (We cannot assist for non-College websites.)
- Professional critiques of social media profiles to help your page improve
5. Recommended Reading
If social media interests you and you would like to keep up to date on best practices and trends in the industry, we recommend the following websites and books:
- Mashable: Twitter Guidebook
- Mashable: How to Set up a FB Page
- the social media marketing book; Dan Zarrella