Creating a social media account seems simple, but developing an effective social media presence requires careful planning, skill, and a significant amount of time. Before you get started, explore the guide below to make sure you understand all that goes into maintaining an account on behalf of UConn:
Define Your Goals
- What are your communications goals? Are you trying to reach out to students or connect with alumni? Are you sharing news or starting conversations? Your answers to these questions will impact your strategy as you begin to select platforms and develop content.
- Are your needs short-term or long-term? Social media accounts require ongoing attention, so it’s important that you’re dedicated to maintaining them over time. Inactive accounts reflect poorly on the University, so carefully consider whether you can devote the time and resources to running an account. If your needs are more short-term, please consider alternative solutions. If you’re promoting an event, you can create a Facebook event and promote it through other University channels (e.g. websites, the Daily Digest, listservs, etc.). You can also contact the managers of existing UConn accounts and ask for their help promoting your initiative or event.
- How will social media be integrated with your website and existing communications?
- How is this in the best interest of UConn? Any social media activity on behalf of UConn should directly and measurably align with the University’s strategic mission and priorities.
Select the Right Platform
- Asking yourself whether your department should be on Facebook or Twitter? Trying to decide whether to create an Instagram account? It’s important to understand the differences between each platform before creating new accounts. Here are a few helpful links that explain some of the primary platforms (note: these articles are written largely for corporate audiences, so read them with an eye toward higher education):
- There are hundreds of social networks on the web, with new platforms being introduced regularly. We recommend that you focus on the primary platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc. Don’t get caught up in the excitement of new platforms that might not have staying power. Instead, keep a close eye on the new platforms you’re interested in and see how they perform over the first year.
- Still not sure how to select the right platforms? Looking for confirmation that you’re on the right track? Contact Emily Zangari, manager of social and emerging media, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Choose Your Account Managers
Selecting the right person to manage your social media presence is an important part of your strategy. The ideal account manager should be:
- An established social media user who utilizes social networks personally and regularly.
- Interested in keeping up with social media and marketing trends.
- A strong communicator with solid writing skills. As an institution of higher education, it’s important that social media posts reflect the quality of our programs. Followers expect well-written posts with proper grammar and no typographical errors.
- Engaged with the UConn community by keeping up with events and being connected to students.
- Capable of editing images, and should have some basic design skills that will help in the creation of dynamic content.
- Able to demonstrate sound judgment. Social media is typically light-hearted and fun, but unexpected issues can arise, so it’s important to have a manager who knows how to respond when under pressure.
Develop a Content Strategy
- Regardless of the platform(s) you choose, content is king. Get your audience’s attention by sharing valuable content.
- Tap into the expertise of your school, college, or department to deliver unique news, helpful links, and multimedia content. Your content should always relate back to this expertise.
- Become an expert content curator. You don’t always have to create original content. Focus on finding interesting content that is already being shared across the Web and find ways to make it work for you. Take the time to give attribution, links back, and credit.
- What tone and style of communication will your target audience find most appealing? Establish a consistent voice that reflects the personality and brand of your School, College, or department. Social media is somewhat informal, so it’s okay to be casual, yet professional.
- How frequently will you post? A regular and consistent schedule is important. The exact frequency will vary for each platform, but it also depends on your department and the types of content you are creating. If your time is limited and you can’t make time for regular posting, social media might not be the right solution for you and you might consider alternative methods for communicating with the community.
Create Your Account
- Create your social media account based on the steps outlined within each platform. Please carefully review our Social Media Guidelines for information on account creation, account names, and more.
- Include detailed information about your office or department. Incorporate a description, contact information, and historical information, if available.
- Social media platforms have made it easier to apply for verification, especially Twitter. Apply for verification to further add credibility to your account. Facebook owns Instagram, so when you apply for Facebook verification, it gives you the option to apply for Instagram verification.
Expand Your Reach
- Connect with UConn-affiliated accounts and engage with their content by liking, commenting, or sharing when it fits within your content strategy.
- Next up, do the same with peers, partners, students, alumni, etc. The value of these connections is found through interaction. Find ways to like, share, and comment on their content and they might do the same for you.
- Embed social media icons or links into your marketing and communications. Look for opportunities to cross-promote.
- Utilize the tools embedded within each platform. On Twitter and Instagram, embrace hashtags. On Facebook, mention other pages and encourage your followers to tag people they know in your photos.
Track & Improve
- Utilize a URL shortener like UConn’s URL Shortener or bitly to shorten your URLs and begin tracking click-throughs. Use this information to determine which types of content you’re posting are the most popular. Most platforms provide basic analytics about your content, although it does differ among platforms. Review this information regularly and track it over time to find out what is effective and what isn’t resonating with your audience. Adjust your content strategy based on this intelligence.
- Tracking is made easier with a management tool that collects data or posts to multiple networks. SproutSocial and TweetDeck are two helpful tools. Be sure to request an education or non-profit discount if you’re considering a paid service.