Having a well-planned social media strategy is essential before setting up a personal, professional or institutional account. The following information provided by the social media strategist in Brown's Office of University Communications will help you identify your communication goals and map out a strong strategy to launch, grow and sustain engagement on your channels.
Determine your intended audience and identify your community. Which communities would you like to engage and communicate with? Does your digital community already exist? If so, how can you leverage it? Asking these questions will help you create a content strategy and identify which social media channels to use. Consider that prospective students use very different platforms than older alumni, for example. If there are influencers and thought leaders within your department that have a social media following, collaborate with them to activate and include their existing audience.
Define your goals in the beginning so you are able to measure results and refine your content strategy. Why do you want to start an account? Do you want to increase access to students, faculty and staff? Spark digital engagement with a specific community? Solicit user-generated content? Determine your goals, write them down and seek feedback from your team. Platforms and channels evolve fast and frequently, so it is important to map out your goals before you choose a platform. Social media allows you to deliver tailored messages to hyper-targeted audiences, so different channels often have different goals.
Allocate Time & Resources
Do not start an account unless you have the dedicated time and resources to maintain a consistent content strategy. A lot of campaigns fail because there is a lack of commitment to the channel. Many campaigns and channels start out strong but then become stale as content runs dry. Plan ahead! Realize and respect the amount of time your community spends on social media and allocate your time and resources accordingly. Also realize that social media are tools that will help you achieve communication goals, but may not always be the best option for every project or goal.
Research similar accounts within your niche for ideas and best practices. Create a competitive landscape of your peers and conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. What do you see working? What could you adopt, apply and augment for your own content and community? What do you see that isn't performing as well? Think outside of the higher education community for opportunities. Some of the best ideas and campaigns come from unexpected places. Explore communities that have similar goals and see what's working well for them.
Become an early adopter and be an active user of the platform. Respond as necessary to inbound questions and comments. Remember that social media is a two-way street. Each channel has its own unique set of functionalities and requires rethinking "traditional" engagement from static websites. Timeliness and consistent engagement is expected. Engagement often requires collaboration across teams. Share information across departments and work closely with your colleagues on how to best respond to comments, engage and promote content.
Determine what success means to you and your team. Your success metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) should be defined when you map out goals. Page Views are no longer the only metric that matters. Look at Comments, Video Views, Likes, Shares, Reactions and content submissions. Social Media channels are increasingly the primary communication channel for your community and contain a wealth of data. Are you delivering and tailoring the right messages on these channels? Use all available data, insights and metrics within each platform to measure and quantify engagement.
Over one billion people use Facebook to stay connected with other people, organizations, causes, groups, and ideas. The Brown University Facebook Page is a way to connect with students, alumni, parents and members of the global Brown community. The Page is open, so anyone may Like, Comment and Share Brown-related news, thoughts, questions, videos and photos.
Facebook is one of the most popular social media sites, used to stay in touch with friends, family, groups and organizations. Users can post pictures or status updates, join groups, plan events or chat with others through a built-in messaging app.
If you already have a personal Facebook account, you may create a Page from that account and become its administrator. Your name will not show up publicly on the Page; non-administrators cannot determine the identity of an administrator of a Page. You also have the option of creating a Page without linking it to a personal account by creating a Facebook account for your department.
Twitter is a service that allows anyone to post or send out "tweets," which are 140-character messages posted on a user's Twitter page.
University Communications uses Twitter to amplify tweets from across campus and to provide news, events and important University announcements via @BrownUniversity.
Tweets are used to update friends and followers, spark discussion and raise awareness. The power of Twitter lies in easy and immediate accessibility to a potential audience, the brevity of posted messages, the speed at which information may be transmitted and the ability to update from multiple times a day. To maximize your use of Twitter and engage with the community, bookmark the Brown Twitter List, use Hashtags and ReTweet often.
Hashtags, which are words or phrases preceded by the pound sign (#), are useful for driving discussion or conversation around an issue or idea, as well as for categorizing posts. They are like subject lines in emails or tags added to blog posts. You may also tweet at users by using the @ sign before the username, such as: "@brownuniversity: I will miss you when I graduate!" Twitter is a great tool for quickly reaching an audience, but care should be taken to post tweets regularly to keep your audience engaged.
YouTube is a video-sharing website that runs on user-generated content. Its educational branch, YouTube EDU, hosts lecture-style content from colleges and universities.
Brown's YouTube channel is home to various interesting and noteworthy lectures and presentations. It is also home to videos displayed previously on Brown's homepage.
Since 2011, all YouTube accounts must be linked to a Google account. You can either use your existing @brown.edu account or create a new Gmail account for your department. Either way, the email address you use with the YouTube account will not be visible to the public unless you choose to display it.
Determine if your department produces enough consistent video content to warrant an individual channel. If you do not produce video content on a monthly basis, a YouTube channel may not be the best option for you. Instead, University Communications can upload your existing video content to Brown's YouTube channel and create a Playlist for your department.
Flickr is a photo-sharing site where anyone can upload photos and videos and tag them with keywords and locations. Users can also add photos to "groups," which are collections of photos from various users.
Brown moderates the Brown University group pool, a public collection of Brown-related photos from various users. Feel free to add any of your pictures from around Brown to the pool!
You can also take a look at Brown's Galleries, which are hand-picked collections of users' photos from around Flickr. There are galleries for Brown in winter, public art, Thayer Street and more. As an owner of a Flickr account, you may organize your photos into Sets and Collections. Sets are groups of photos and videos organized around a common theme, such as an event or subject matter. Each photo can appear in multiple sets. Collections are groups of sets. Once photos are in a set, you may embed them in a website or display them as a slideshow.
You may also share photos and sets on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, and other sites straight from the Flickr website. There are multiple privacy levels for Flickr sets and photos: you may make them private, accessible only to certain contacts or public.
LinkedIn is a social media site aimed at business and professional networking. There are almost 100 million registered users, including many Brown alumni, faculty, staff and current students. You can build your professional identity online and stay in touch with colleagues and classmates.
The Brown Alumni Association has a well developed network of LinkedIn groups, which spans from the main Alumni group to industry-specific, interest-based, geographical, and other groups. Join the Brown Alumni Association’s group on LinkedIn, an online professional networking site that helps you find contacts and resources through the relationships you already have. The student or alumni status of members of the Brown Alumni Association group has been verified by Brown staff.
Instagram is a free photo and video sharing app. Users can upload photos or short videos and share them with followers or with a select group of friends. Users cannot directly save photos that other users posted. Though the desktop page is available for viewing content, posting photos can only be done through the mobile app. The Brown University Instagram account @brownu posts profiles of students, news items and beautiful scenery around Brown. It connects with students, alumni, parents, and the broader Brown community through images and short videos.
Hashtags are widely used on Instagram. They are words, phrases and categories preceded by the pound sign (#). They are used for driving discussion or conversation around an issue or idea, as well as for categorizing posts. They are like subject lines in emails or tags added to blog posts. Users can hashtag anything that they think are related to the photo they post. #BrownUniversity is used for user-generated-content photo submissions. University Communications will filter through the #BrownUniversity hashtag to find content to post on the official @brownu account.
Google+ is an interest-based social network owned and operated by Google. Features include the ability to post photos and status updates to the stream or interest based communities, group different types of relationships (rather than simply "friends") into Circles, a multi-person instant messaging, text and video chat called Hangouts, events, location tagging, and the ability to edit and upload photos to private cloud-based albums.
Since Gmail users get connected to Google+ directly through their email account, Google+ has a lot of users, but relatively lower engagement comparing to other traditional social network platforms. Brown primarily uses Google+ for Hangouts and to amplify Google search results.
Brown University reposts content from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook on Google+, to share campus news and photos.
Vine is a short-form video sharing service where users can share six-second-long looping video clips that is recorded through its in-app camera.
The camera records only while the screen is being touched, enabling users to edit on the fly or create stop motion effects. Vine was acquired by Twitter but shares the feature similar to Instagram.
University Communications uses Vine to generate unique short video content about University news, research discoveries and events. Follow Brown University on Vine.
Tumblr allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog. It includes a dashboard where users can access a live feed of recent posts from blogs that they follow.
Through the dashboard, users are able to comment, reblog, and like posts from other blogs that appear on their dashboard. The dashboard allows the user to upload text posts, images, video, quotes, or links to their blog with a click of a button displayed at the top of the dashboard.
Users are able to connect their blogs to their Twitter and Facebook accounts, so whenever they make a post, it will also be sent as a tweet and a status update. In addition, hashtags are also featured on Tumblr, where users can add topics to their posts.
Brown University uses Tumblr to cross-promote photos posted on Instagram and to stay connected with the Tumblr community. Follow Brown University on Tumblr.
Snapchat is an image and video messaging mobile app that is primarily used for creating video messages referred to as Snaps.
Snaps can consist of a photo or a short video, and can be edited to include filters and effects, text captions and drawings. Snaps can be directed privately to selected contacts or to a semi-public Story.
The private message photo snaps can be viewed for a user-specified length of time (1 to 10 seconds) before they become inaccessible. University Communications uses Snapchat to generate unique videos and photos that share student life and campus events.
Snapchat tailors to a younger audience and adopts a less official voice. An early adopter of Snapchat's Campus Stories, Brown aims to use Snapchat as a channel to engage with current and prospective students, as well as the broader Brown community. Add brown-u on Snapchat!
Visit the Snapchat Help Center to discover tips and tricks, find answers to common questions, and get help.