Becca Ramspott (@beccaramspott) is a writer and social media specialist at Frostburg State University. Her past projects include organizing a social media scavenger hunt for alumni, crowdsourcing photos through FSU’s #instaFrostburg hashtag and creating a “graduation gift” of resources for Frostburg’s Class of 2012 on Pinterest. In her spare time, she does freelance writing, blogs about higher education and experiments with photography.
By now, it’s no secret: If you want to communicate what’s going with your school or educational organization, social media is going to play a part in how you tell your story. The question is how good a story will you tell? And more importantly, how will you get that story out there when the very tools you’re using — social media — switch things up all the time?
When I’m trying to share great stories on social media, there is one golden rule: Stay nimble. Don’t get locked down into something that will not be relevant in a few months, or even a few days. Jump into the conversation and say something interesting, and more importantly, let the people you’re trying to reach say something interesting. Be open to random developments that will change the game altogether.
You know where random developments and conversations with different audiences are the norm? Alice in Wonderland, where “nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t.” Here are a few ideas from Alice in Wonderland that inspire me in being nimble with social media.
Curiouser and curiouser …
The first and best way to be nimble is to know enough so you can confidently jump into the fray with your eyes open. And to do that, you have to fall down a few rabbit holes and explore all the great ideas out there. Find some good social media news sources and read them daily. And don’t just limit it to the obvious stuff, like Mashable. I love following thought leaders and reading industry news on LinkedIn and browsing through social media articles on Twitter lists I’ve built. Lately, I’ve found some terrific commentary on Medium. The more you know, the less intimidating surprises are, and the more creative you can be with adapting quickly to unexpected changes.
This one makes you big and this one makes you small …
Every social media community is different. Being nimble is about being creatively agile with how you disseminate your messages. You want to share your stories through your social media in a way that lets people know you care about interacting with them. Automatically disseminating the same messaging in the same way on several different platforms is not being nimble; it’s being a robot. So tailor your message to the medium–
Being nimble entails shifting your perspective, so you can save time, energy and resources for where it counts. Maybe you don’t need to create a separate Twitter account or Facebook Page as part of marketing a new program, but instead should try crowdsourcing content using a well-promoted hashtag that you share through your school’s main social media sites. This not only relieves you of launching and growing a new social media account, but also invites others to share their ideas and creativity in ways that build their trust and interest in your school.
Don’t be Tweedle “Dumb” … be authentically creative!
Being nimble is not just acting quickly … it’s acting quickly with purpose. You don’t necessarily have to produce the same thing everyone else is doing so you can frantically jump on the latest trend (Hello overabundance of “Harlem Shake” videos on college campuses!). There is no “one size fits all” marketing strategy that is uniform for our industry. Say something unique and real about your institution that inspires people to share their own stories. Be a vibrant and responsive community for your particular constituents, not a knock-off of what someone else is already doing. Who are your best storytellers? How can you get them to share with you?
It’s always tea time …
Social media can feel like a crazy tea party with a bunch of random guests who don’t know what time it is, or where anyone should sit. You’ll have people who visit your Facebook Pages every day and ramble on and on about their own thing around the clock, like the Cheshire Cat or the caterpillar smoking his hookah. It is for this reason that listening is key. Take advantage of tools that will help you follow conversations that are happening about your brand, whether they’re services with some paid options, like Hootsuite and Twitalyzer, or free sites like socialmention.com. They will help you monitor the good, the bad and the ugly so you can respond quickly, as needed.
Listening to all the people out there can lead to positive and unexpected developments, too. While monitoring Twitter, I recently found this fantastic tweet from a student about how proud he was of our university. I not only retweeted it from our institution’s account, but I also decided to make a screenshot of it to share on our institution’s Facebook Page.
I let him know via Twitter that we had posted his tweet on Facebook, and he was thrilled. This simple and quick curation of content from one place to another led to him becoming one of our best Twitter ambassadors; he actively tweets out good news about our university on a regular basis.
These are my go-to guidelines for keeping up and keeping it real on social media. What are yours?