Social Media: Some Notes
This page is not intended to be a complete guide to using social media for professional purposes. It is a compilation of notes that we know from experience will make creating, maintaining and growing the accounts easier.
Setting up the Account:
Nearly all social media accounts used for business or professional purposes are linked to someone’s personal account. Try to avoid using your indstate.edu, sycamores.indstate.edu or your personal, everyday email addresses. Instead use an email account created specifically to administer your social media account, services such as AOL, Gmail, Yahoo, Yandex etc. can be used. The reasoning behind this is that people leave the university and their email account terminated. It can also make passing on administration rights to the social media easier without having to compromise a personal account. Some social media platforms have a strict one email, one account policy and having multiple generic email addresses will make the creation of multiple accounts on that particular platform easier.
It is best to have at least two administrators for any groups or pages that are made. Should one administrator no longer be available to administer the account, it will help ensure the continuation of the account.
We have found from experience that professional accounts that are attached to personal accounts cannot be transferred or recovered if something happens to the original owner. There are around 460 (in November 2018) social media accounts associated with Indiana State University that have been abandoned for one reason or another and which can no longer be used by anyone.
Naming and Branding the Account:
The university has style guidelines for both print and web use. It is not always possible to strictly adhere to these guidelines when using social media but administrators need to be aware that the guidelines exist. The university seal must not be used as an identifying mark as it is reserved for official documents.
When you name your account, be consistent with university branding names and be sure to let people know who you are associated with. If using "ISU" in the account name, It is particularly important not to confuse anyone who might be more familiar with Idaho, Illinois, Iowa State Universities or any other entity. "IndState" may be a useful alternative to "ISU"
Unless the account is to be used for a specific event do not add the year or any other date to the account name. Say it's 2020, your account is going to look strange if you still have 2017 in the name.
If you are creating accounts on different platforms it helps if you use the same username on all of them. It also helps if you check that the username you want to use is available on all platforms before creating the accounts. Here's an example. The university is the organizing institution for the Student Managed Investment Fund Consortium (SMIFC). We could not use SMIFC on all platforms because on Facebook that belongs to an Indonesian football club and someone had already claimed that username on Twitter and gotten their account suspended for some reason. The alternative "SMIFConsortium" was subsequently used on all platforms an account was created on.
Audience and Content:
ISU groups have created many accounts over the years on all sorts of platforms. Some of those were created because someone decided “we must have a social media account.” Before jumping into starting a social media account, ask yourself some important questions. Who is the audience? How often will you post? Who will be in charge of posting for your group? Who will be responsible if the wrong information gets posted? Is this going to be one way communication or interactive? What are your goals for having this account? Will this be located on our web site? If people join the social media group you’re going to make, then they really are interested in maintaining contact with the university and what goes on here. They will be interested in any events and guest speakers you have. They may not necessarily turn up, but they will be interested and read about them. If you have outstanding students who excel at something, they like to read about them. Major events in your field outside the university they will like to know about. Major events in the university they may like to read about, as well as any community events. How will you measure if your account is successful? There are many things to consider. Please have a detailed plan before you act.
You do not have to post every day but you should have a schedule or plan of some sort. Most people prefer something that is relevant to them rather than “fillers.” How often do you think you will have something your followers will find engaging? Do you have someone dedicated to writing and checking the posts before you publish them? Do they have access to legal images or videos to post?
This is the hardest part but do not get hung up about the number of members or post views. It can be discouraging when you first start and you may wonder if anyone is ever going to read anything you write. Once the page is set up and you’ve made a few posts, send people an email telling them there’s a new group in town they may be interested in. Encourage alumni, staff, faculty or students to ask friends to join. Look for innovative ways to engage your audience. If you’re producing fliers or posters for anything at all, think about putting the group social media address and/or a hashtag on those.
Hashtags are just a way of grouping and finding posts. If someone searches for a certain hashtag then all the posts with the same hashtag show up – whether they were made by you or someone else completely different. LinkedIn’s do not behave the way they do on Facebook and Twitter. If you look at a LinkedIn page on a computer they appear not to work. The odd thing is, if you look at them on a smartphone then they do – and about half your audience will check your group on their phones. Use hashtags to help people find related information.
This is where you specifically mention an individual or entity by using the @ sign along with their handle. An example previously mentioned would be @SMIFConsortium. To help grow your presence encourage your audience to post something about you on their social media with your handle. It's also a good idea to help provide value to the sponsors of any events you might have by mentioning them in your posts.