Respondents noted the reach and convenience of social media platforms, but also acknowledged their challenges. Using social media to connect with faculty and staff requires planning and commitment. Recurring themes included:
1. Explore the medium, but do so thoughtfully.
“Social media is a fantastic tool when used properly. It requires a high level of engagement from the communicator and the audience to be effective.”
- Establish your goals: Define the audience you need to reach, what you need to tell them, and how you’ll know you’ve succeeded.
- Take stock of benefits and risks: Most social media platforms are highly visible and interactive. They can spread messages quickly in ways beyond your control.
- Consider alternatives: Social media isn’t the right tool for every job—evaluate other communications options, too.
- Seek expert advice: If your college, department, or program has public relations or communications pros, ask for their advice and assistance.
2. Understand the resource demands.
“Someone must be dedicated to approving posts, monitoring accounts, and responding to negative comments in a timely and effective manner. The speed at which messages can circulate is a benefit and a drawback.”
- Know who needs to sign off: Work-related social media accounts are easy to set up, but they’re still channels for official business. Establish who should approve everything from plans to posts.
- Keep accounts active: Social media demands timeliness and frequency. Only create accounts when you’re prepared to maintain them.
- Always be monitoring: Follow comments, private messages, and other two-way communications, responding promptly and appropriately. Look for audience engagement trends that can shape your strategies.
3. Meet people where they already gather.
“…I strongly believe its most effective to use a variety of outlets. Social media is a matter of personal preference, so we cannot take a one-size-fits all approach.”
- Choose the right network: For faculty and staff, best bets include Facebook and LinkedIn. They attract the right demographic and are commonly used by organizations.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel: If your college, for example, already has a social media presence, see if you can use the established account before trying to build a new one on your own.
- Keep an eye on new platforms: Watch for emerging social media services that are attracting the right audiences or offering useful functions.
4. Strike the right balances.
“There may be a fine line on how often we use social media for work-related communications. Too often, and people may feel they can’t leave work behind at the end of the day.”
- Find the right voice: Social media is concise and casual. Establish a tone the fits the medium, but still best represents your unit and the UI.
- Maintain the line between work and personal use of social media: The boundary can get blurry—proceed with care.
5. Use targeted/private options.
“Create a LinkedIn group for UI faculty and staff and push meaningful information there. Develop groups around topics or research areas to foster interdisciplinary work.”
- Explore groups: Private or managed groups on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn make it possible to use social media tools in more controlled (but never completely controlled) ways.
6. Emphasize the right kind of information.
“I think a mix of online polls, stories, and important information is key in keeping an audience engaged with the account. Also, posting content on a consistent basis and tracking metrics is important.”
- Highlight mission-driven news: Take cues from unit and university strategic priorities.
- Promote opportunities for involvement: Post about service programs, events, etc.
- Recognize people: Turn the spotlight on individual and team achievements.
- Share industry news: Post items of interest from beyond the university.
- Build relationships: Acknowledge partners and customers publicly, and engage them through messaging functions as appropriate.
- Encourage discussion: Ask for tips on wellness and other topics where folks are apt to share ideas.
- Post job opportunities: Use social media channels in recruiting.