Nowadays most of us are on social media, whether it’s Facebook for keeping in touch with family, Twitter for checking the news or even TikTok just for the fun of it! So, if we’re all so familiar with social media, I guess that means we can all run a successful professional social media account, right? Not exactly. Using social media in a business or professional context is very different to using social media in a personal context, it requires planning which can take a lot of time and resource but is important in order to develop a consistent tone and style, relevant and on brand content, and messages and activity that fit wider marketing goals.
Whether you’re involved in running a professional social media account or looking to set one up, I’ve put together a list of top tips to help you achieve success.
1. Define your purpose
Social media goals are an extension of the overarching aims and objectives of your organisation. Social media is a tool to connect with users through a medium where they are active and spend a lot of their time. Defining your goals will help to ensure that you are putting time into creating content and using channels that will help you to achieve them and allow you to measure your success.
Identifying why you will be using social media will make it easier to set goals. Reasons for the University of Liverpool Library include:
- Reaching and engaging with our users
- Promoting our Library services
- Increasing brand recognition and awareness of the Library
- Promoting and extending the sense of Library community online
- Gaining user insights
2. Identify your audience
It’s important to understand where your audience is. Different social media platforms have different user demographics (age, gender, profession) and just because you use a social media platform in your personal life, it doesn't necessarily mean that this platform will work for your organisation, and vice versa.
There is a lot of information available about different social media platforms and their users, each with reasons for why they use the platforms. It’s also important to understand that, although your audience may use two different social media platforms, they may use them for very different reasons so it’s important to adapt your content, tone and message to suit the purpose of the platform.
3. Decide on your channels
I recommend that you spend most time on the platforms where your audience are and, even if it takes time to develop your approach and build a following, it will be worth the effort to reach the right audience.
The University of Liverpool Library mainly focuses on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
- Instagram - Users want to see aesthetic content that they are likely to want to share with friends, make them feel nostalgic or close to the organisation and provide them with content and information that other accounts cannot.
It’s also important to remember the value of Instagram stories in improving engagement with users as they offer an opportunity to communicate with and develop an understanding of your audience. Instagram takeovers of other accounts are also a great way to increase your following!
- Twitter - Generally more fast-paced and in the moment, however this doesn't mean that it doesn't require planning and structure. Although tweets can often be successful when they are spontaneous, there is a need to have a more planned approach to content in general. Users engage with humorous content that they can relate to and want to share and this helps to expand reach and increase following.
- Facebook - Less frequently used amongst younger users, so it is important to consider who your audience is before deciding to use this platform. Most people engage with content on Facebook that makes them feel something, whether it’s an emotional video, a nostalgic photograph or a funny meme. Producing content that users can relate to and feel inclined to share with friends is important for this platform.
Social media is constantly changing, new trends emerge and there are always new opportunities, so it is important to remain abreast of what is happening in the world of social media in order to stay relevant and relatable.
4. Put time into planning
Planning content in line with your wider marketing activity is important. It’s advised that the content split on Instagram should be around 60/40 with 60% interesting, engaging and 'nice' content and 40% promotional content.
The following are some important questions to ask when creating content for social media:
- What message am I trying to communicate?
- Does this message fit with the wider ongoing marketing activity and/or the stage of the purchasing/user life cycle that our customers/users are at?
- What type of media should we use, and which platform is it best suited to?
It’s also important to remember that creating a consistent look, feel and tone on social media is key. If posts are not consistent, they can cause your social media to look messy and confused. Ensuring that all visual content (image and video) is aesthetically pleasing and in line with the theme of your social media feed will generate more engagement with your content and more effectively spread your message.
Using others' content (with their permission) is also a great way to both engage with users and make creating content quicker and easier. Using ‘earned' content such as images of your organisation, reviews, comments and videos can be a great way of conveying your key messages.
5. Evaluate your activity
It’s all well and good putting time and effort into your social media, but how do you know if it is working? Luckily, if you have set goals for your social media, it should be easy to know whether your activity is effective. Measuring ‘vanity metrics’ such as likes and followers is useful but tracking insights such as engagement rate will help you to understand which content is popular on social media, and which content isn’t doing so well so you can make changes in the future.
Getting things right on social media can take time and a lot of trial and error but the rewards are definitely worth it! Starting small and posting content regularly is the best way to go and don’t forget – quality over quantity to increase engagement and achieve success!
About the Author
Amy Lewin is Marketing and Innovation Coordinator for Libraries, Museums and Galleries at the University of Liverpool, responsible for overseeing all departmental social media accounts as well as coordinating wider departmental marketing activity.
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