Social media is a great way of reaching and interacting with your audience. Many of us use it in our personal lives and want to use it professionally as well.
Building and maintaining an engaging professional social media presence can be very rewarding but also time consuming. Before you set anything up make sure you have the resource to keep it going in the long-term. It will need to be checked and updated on a daily basis.
In order to engage your audience using social media you need to have a two way conversation. Spend time commenting on and replying to things your target audience have posted in addition to sending out your own messages.
Dormant or sparsely maintained accounts look unprofessional and can give the impression an active project, group, centre, team or service is no longer running. Broadcast only accounts can be just as damaging because you are not engaging with your audience.
In many cases we would prefer to send your messages through our corporate social media accounts such as the @UniofExeter Twitter and University of Exeter Facebook presences. These accounts have large number of followers and can give your messages much greater exposure than an individual social media account.
If we then identify a need to set up your own channels we can advise you on best practice.
Before you open a social media account please consider:
- What resource you have for the ongoing maintenance of the social media presence.
- What do you want to say?
- What do you want to achieve?
- Who is your audience?
- What do you want your audience to do?
- And, determine which social media mechanisms your audience uses (eg, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).
Please also contact your Web Marketing Officer to discuss your requirements, ideas and options.
If you do run your own channels you must behave appropriately and remember you are representing the University, even if it is a personal account. You must behave in a respectful, relevant way that protects our reputation and follows the letter and spirit of the law.
We expect everyone who participates in online commentary to follow the University’s social media guidelines, you must make sure you have read the guidelines before setting anything up.
Types of social media
There are many different social media sites that can be used for different purposes, such as:
LinkedIn: Aimed at professionals. It is easy to get started and you can use existing email lists to search for and add people to your contacts.Remember to update your personal profile regularly to notify contacts about your activities. You can also recommend contacts for their professional skills – and be recommended by contacts in return.
You can join groups to communicate with others in your field and can ask and answer questions related to your area of work. The ways of engaging with other users makes LinkedIn a useful site for networking and collaboration.
For more details see the University’s guide to LinkedIn.
Twitter: This requires more patience than other forms of social media but your posts have the potential to reach a far wider audience.
The best way to start on Twitter is to:
- Follow people with similar interests.
- Make your profile interesting and relevant to your work.
- Engage with others – if someone tweets something of interest make sure to reply to it.
Remember that your Twitter account is an ambassador for you and the University so avoid getting involved in sensitive subjects that could damage your reputation.
Facebook: When targeting students Facebook could be ideal, but if you have research or other academic interests in mind it could be the wrong place for your target audience.
Academia.edu: A social media site geared towards academic researchers. Using Academia.edu you can:
- Update your status with relevant current events that may be of interest to others.
- Upload, track and download academic papers – sometimes as they are being written, as academics ask for peer reviews of drafts.
- Pose questions to your followers in a similar way to Twitter, but with a much higher character limit.
- Invite colleagues to the site.
- Create an easy road map for potential future collaborations.
Academia.edu may be better suited to collaborating with existing contacts rather than making new connections or boosting the profile of your research.
Wikis: A simple website that allows the creation and editing of linked web pages. They are useful for a number of people to discuss a topic, plan a meeting or share ideas because all contributions on a topic are kept together and in order.
Blogs: A very quick and simple way for anybody to publish content to the web without having to establish or maintain an entire website.
Blogs are ideal for publishing news and updates, for commenting on external events and issues, and for linking to and interacting with content on other blogs.
You can set up a University blog via My Exeter.
Jenna Richards, Web Marketing Officer for RKT