There are numerous social media sites and tools available, so how do you choose the most appropriate for you? Read our short getting started guide and find how to evaluate the most effective channel for your target audience.
1. Secure approval and identify your team
If you wish to create a social media presence, secure the approval of your Head of School or Departmental Administrator, as appropriate.
Identify a coordinator who will have the primary responsibility for populating, maintaining and monitoring your profile or page.
Ensure they have the time available and enthusiasm to dedicate to this project. They will need to check the site at least once a day but this does not need to take up a significant amount of time, see best practice tips.
It is also important to assign and train someone to act as a back-up, to cover leave etc, and make sure they have the passwords.
Successful social media sites are updated frequently and post timely responses to questions and queries.
2. Define your aims
Spend time determining what you want to achieve. Are you trying to generally promote your School, communicate with alumni or provide a forum for new students?
Define what you hope to accomplish, with whom you wish to engage, and what content you wish to share first; then begin exploring social media tools.
Having a clear understanding will help you identify how best to reach your target audience, the most appropriate tool/s to use and how to create/generate relevant content.
Determine how you will measure the success of your social media presence - increased visitors to your School website, better communication with current students or a new research network with peers. Identify the tools/measures you’ll use to track that success.
The more work you do before starting the more likely you are to create a successful social media presence.
All social media platforms have their own styles and requirements. By becoming a user of social media, you can learn how these communities work and what content is of most interest to your target audience.
Spending a good amount of time on this step will help you better plan what value you can add.
4. Choose your tool
After listening, you may find the short, 140-character bursts of Twitter are a good fit for your goals. Or you may have photos, videos and a well-developed community that would be best shared via a Facebook page. Do not try to do it all at once – choose a tool that best meets your goals and focus on building a strong presence.
Check what presence you already have – some Schools have previously set-up accounts which are no longer being maintained. Evaluate whether these can be used or whether they should/could be deactivated
5. Plan your content
We recommend planning what you're going to say and share on social media in advance. Have a think about what you need to promote, what your audience wants to hear and what they are talking about at different times of the year.
Plan your content so you have a good mix of messages and encourage engagement by asking questions and using varied multimedia content.
The University plans content a week in advance, which saves time and ensures the channels are up-to-date. However - don't forget to react to questions and changes.
If you are creating a new profile or page choose a name that clearly identifies your School/department and its connection to the University. This will make it easier for people to find you. Do not identify yourself simply as the University of Kent as that implies you are speaking for the entire institution. Follow the University brand guidelines.
Read the best practice social media tips, build your appropriate social media presence and spend several weeks populating it. Share it with a small group who can provide comments, student ambassadors or course reps are often very helpful at generating useful content.
Have the site up and running well before you plan to ‘officially’ launch it – to ensure you’re confident maintaining it.
Use mailing lists and notices on your School website, to notify your potential audiences that you have a social media presence. Ask School members to add social media URLS to their email signatures. Don’t forget to tell us about your activity so we can help extend your reach.
Also, notify others with social media presences and similar interests that your site is live – one of the most effective ways to do this is by linking to these sites from yours and mentioning them in your posts.
8. Evaluate and adjust
Once your site is up and running, you will find some content is popular and some is ignored. All social media tools come with easy-to-use tracking tools, so you can see which posts are viewed and shared most, which generate comments, etc. Be prepared to adjust your content and strategy in response to who is using your site.