Should you make that social media account?
How to Decide Whether You Should Make a Social Media Account
So, you’re thinking about creating a social media account for your Western Oregon University group/club/department/organization/position? Or you currently have an account but are unsure of its effectiveness? Awesome! Marketing & Communication (MarCom) is here to offer support and guidance to help you be successful.
First, let’s go through some questions to see whether a social media account is the best fit for your needs. If you answer “yes” to all or most of these questions, then you’re in good shape. If you didn’t, reach out to Sarah Sheldrick in MarCom to talk about other strategies that could achieve your communications goals.
STEP 1: AUDIENCE
The first thing to consider when thinking about creating a social media account is your target audience.
- Do you know your target audience?
- Determine whether you are trying to reach current students, prospective students, parents, WOU employees, alumni or a mix of these audiences.
- Do you know they are using social media (and the specific platform(s) you want to create an account on)?
- If you want to use Instagram but most of your target audience prefers Facebook, you may not reach them.
- Do you know how to get them to follow your account?
- Unfortunately, social media followers don’t magically appear. You must tell people that you have a social media account. Growing your social media following/audience takes a lot of time and persistence.
- Does your target audience want to interact with you on social media?
- One of the challenges a university faces is that many groups around campus want an individual social media presence, but that can become overwhelming for our target audiences. While many of us may feel we need a social media presence, our audience may not feel the need to connect with us in that space. Plus, the more accounts WOU has, the more we begin to internally compete for space in someone’s news feed.
STEP 2: RESOURCES
You’ve decided your audience is on social media, and you have a plan of action to get them to like your page. Great! Social media demands more resources than many people expect. It takes staffing to regularly create content, engage with followers and monitor discussions. A social media platform should not be left idle.
- Do you have at least one person with time regularly dedicated to managing the social media account(s)?
- If there isn’t content being posted regularly, there’s no reason to create an account and further clutter up the “WOU” searches on the platform.
- Is the account providing a return for the time investment?
- If you only have 50 followers to your account, it’s important to evaluate whether it’s having an impact and meeting your goals.
- Do you have the staffing to monitor the account and response to followers?
- Social media users can get frustrated pretty quickly if they ask a question and no one replies in a timely manner. Managing a social media account is not a once-a-week job. Accounts should be checked daily. If you want to share information and not engage with your audience, there are better venues. Social media is a two-way communication street.
STEP 3: CONTENT
After you’ve decided social media is the right place for you and you have the resources to manage it, it’s time to think about content.
- Do you have content to share?
- You need more than a desire to be on the latest and greatest social media platform. You need to have stories to tell and information to share, beyond important dates and deadlines. Plus, you need the time to create that content.
- Do you have a plan for content a month from now? six months from now? next year?
- If your needs are temporary (e.g., an annual, one-day event), a dedicated account may not be the best option. Consider sending your content requests to a larger account, which also helps you to reach a broader audience!
- Can the content be covered by a different account?
- There may be a closely related account to the one you’re considering where you could share your content. It’s usually better to funnel people to one account with broader content than several more specialized social media accounts.
STEP 4: PLATFORM CHOICE
Made it this far and still answering mostly “yes”? Now we get into what you may be most curious about: choosing the right platform.
- What platform do you want to use?
- It’s important you want to do this so it sounds authentic.
- Does your content fit the platform(s) you want to use?
- If you’re really interested in Instagram, but you don’t have many images to share, that’s not the best choice in platform.
- Do you know how to use that platform?
- When you’re excited about using a platform, your content likely will be more engaging and your audience will be more interested in interacting. Need some training? Reach out to MarCom and we’ll help!
Think social media is a good fit for you? Head to the MarCom website and explore other social media resources, including the application to be listed in WOU’s official social media directory (there are guidelines that must be met).
STEP 5: DO IT! (OR DON’T)
Don’t think social media is the right fit for you? Talk to MarCom about alternative strategies, or send us your content to consider for posting on other campus accounts. Or want to talk about a strategy? Contact us!