Image by mediamonk via Pixabay

Don’t Ignore Your Audience!

One of our more popular posts has been about how your social media may be missing the mark. It struck a nerve because so many organizations rush to jump on the latest marketing tool without really having a strategy and a plan. In that article, we shared:

Studies show that digital natives expect to have a two-way conversation with brands. Far too often, social media is used as an alternative outlet for the school’s press releases. While there is merit in using social media to get the word out, there is a danger if that is the only practice your school uses. Amplifying existing messages in social media will not generate followers or interest, only create additional work for your team. Instead of using social media as a megaphone, leverage the conversational opportunities within the network to engage your followers with your news.

The Power of Amplification

As a parent, I know how much my kids have loved the concept of amplification. When my oldest son was an infant, he was fascinated with yelling. We would be enjoying a quiet car ride, only to nearly have a heart attack when he would suddenly start screaming. And, who can forget the annoying Mr. Microphone Christmas gift from the 80’s! Amplifying your voice has power!

Social media is a tool that provides amplification. But, if all we use it for is to amplify what we are already saying, it becomes shocking and annoying. Far too many organizations are still “playing” with social media as an amplification tool — using it simply as a megaphone — for what they are already saying in other formats. They might post a recent press release on Facebook; tweet about an upcoming event; or post that athletic image that was sent to the local paper on Instagram.

Social media has the power to be so much more, only if you know how to move beyond the megaphone. It has the power to build brand authority and to build trust.

Here are seven ideas to move beyond the megaphone and start using social media as a tool to build that brand authority and trust with your audience:

Have a Plan

No one would ever start a trip to an new destination without a map (or their phone’s GPS). You wouldn’t build a building without a blueprint. Don’t spend time on social media without a plan. A strategic plan will provide several things for your organization:

Understand the Audience

As part of the plan, you should define your audience per social media channel. You’ll need tools to do that. Tools such as FollowerWonk and others make this easy and effective. By understanding your audience, you can better serve them through social media.

Understand Available Tools

I recently met with a prospective client. They were doing social media better than average. But, they were working really hard to achieve their success. I shared with my contact some ideas for using tools and automation to ease the burden. He stated that he often wondered if there were easier ways to achieve their goals. The answer is a resounding YES! Tools such a Buffer, Hootsuite, and Coschedule can make the life of a social media manager much better. Knowing where to look and what to look for is critical.

Original Content

Developing and sharing original content is critical to the success of social media. This is where using the amplification is a critical part of your entire marketing strategy. Remember that you are just a subset of their larger questions. If they are engaged with you as a school, the details of your particular school is just a subset of their larger question about higher education in general. Create content that answers their questions and promote that through social media to your audience and to your future audience using hashtags.

Curated Content

In addition to your original content, you need to provide curation for content that would benefit your audience. As mentioned above, prospects engage with you in order to get answers to their questions. You need to find relevant content that will provide them those answers. By doing so, you become a trusted authority on that subject.

Conversation

Be sure to have conversation: answer comments and provide the basics of best practices for social media in your social media marketing engagement. Far too often, I see comments that are made on Facebook or Twitter but never answered or engaged by the school. Don’t be that Rob Lowe.

Everything Else

There is a place for promoting news and events on social media. There is a place to retweet and cross-market other channels. These basics cannot be the all that you do on social media. There has to be more.