Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr allow St. Ambrose University to connect with the community. These sites supplement www.sau.edu, eNewsletters, emails and printed pieces. The university can update audiences with news, photos, videos and relevant links multiple times a day. It can even report events in real time! Posts about helpful resources, success stories and campus activities build the reputation of the institution and its faculty.
These sites can reach specialized audiences (specific undergraduate classes, extracurricular clubs, academic programs, etc.) and give them a slice of St. Ambrose life – campus activities, student and faculty personalities and the like. And they provide a forum for members of the St. Ambrose community to speak directly to the university.
Not only can readers have two-way conversations with the university, they can network with each other. Accepted students meet friends before they get to campus. Current students can find others who are interested in starting new clubs. Alumni can find out what others have been up to since graduation.
However, social media is only effective when it is part of a collaborative effort. Before developing a page:
- Make sure that a page hasn't already been created for your department or topic area. If a page has already been created, ask the Communications and Marketing Office about how you can contribute to it.
- Talk to Communications and Marketing for assistance on getting started, integration into the website, making sure your page has relevancy, etc.
Types of shareable information include:
- Success stories about students, faculty, staff, alumni.
Ex. Congratulations to OT student Renee Holst for winning a national scholarship http://ow.ly/3qpu4
- Links to institutional stories from other media sources.
Ex. QC Times columnist Bill Wundrum writes about 2004 MBA graduate Ewelina (Liguz) Bergert.
- Event announcements.
Ex. Tonight in Galvin: the 4th annual Christmas Showcase concert at 7 p.m.
- Admissions reminders and deadlines.
Ex. Chicago area students: SIGN UP FOR NEXT WEEK'S BUS TRIP! There is still room and it is a great time!... http://fb.me/KPcf4rBH
- Photo and video albums.
Ex. Student and faculty work, commencement, residence halls, alumni events, service trips.
- Reporting of events in real time. It's almost like the audience is there!
Ex. Did you see that three-point field goal? #GoBees
- Fun "Hey, how are you?" outreach posts. These types of posts encourage comments and a sharing atmosphere.
Ex. St. Ambrose University Class of 2015: Okay...so who had a great New Years? I did!
- Emergency notifications
Ex. St. Ambrose University's main campus on Locust Street is closed today, Wednesday, January 12, 2011, due to a power outage. All offices are closed. Satellite campuses are still open. Please check back here for more information.
- Check out social media campaigns conducted by colleagues and competitors to learn what social media tactics they're using, and what's effective and ineffective. Join their social media groups to keep updated on them.
- Define your audience and objectives. What do you hope to achieve with the social media site?
- Understand what kind of content your audience wants. For example, the St. Ambrose University Class of 2015 Facebook group is interested in connecting with future classmates. Create posts about upcoming campus events, outreach messages, like "What res hall did you request?", etc. Assemble a team to set up, run and manage your social media site. There are several free tools that allow you to schedule and manage posts, like hootsuite.com and tweetdeck.com.
- Set some specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound goals. How many new likes do you want your site to get per month? How many and what kind of comments? How many Twitter followers?
- Create a calendar or content matrix (see the example below).
- Post engaging content. Write as though you're talking to a friend. Keep the tone natural, conversational and personal.
- Respond to comments, questions and uploads on your social media site. Did someone upload a picture of a campus tour? "Like" it! And asked what their favorite part of the tour was.
- Generate weekly or monthly reports that highlight the success of the social media site. How many new likes does your group get per month? How many, and what kind of comments? How many Twitter followers? How many retweets? Tools like Facebook Insights, Hootsuite, SocialMention and YouTube Insights provide analytics that can help measure your success.
Frequent updates to a social media site keep the social media community engaged and help them see it as valuable. Get started by setting a schedule. For example:
- Update Facebook several times a week.
- Send out helpful, interesting tweets anywhere from 1-10 times a day.
- Upload YouTube videos once or twice a month.
- Upload pictures on Flickr once or twice a month (or whenever there's an important event).