Bringing Your Social Media Activity Together
Managing social media can sometimes be like herding cats. And a challenge that we often see at Pickle Jar Communications, is clients with lots of cats.
We often see organisations with lots of different departments and services, each with their own social media channels to manage whether that’s universities with lots of different departments, colleges with multiple campuses, or business with various services.
This can present a number of challenges:
- How can you ensure all channel managers are aware of what’s happening elsewhere in the business?
- How can you present a consistent tone of voice and message for your brand?
- How can you plan engaging content across the channels that will appeal to your audiences?
That’s where audience research and a social media strategy will help you to consider how different channels play different roles for your breadth of audiences, depending on their relationship with you, and their information needs (see our student engagement journey for an example of this).
To try and bring social media activity together, and present a more complete picture of the social landscape within an organisation, some people have invested in creating social media “hubs” or directories, where accounts are listed, and content is aggregated.
There are some pros and cons to doing this:
– Hubs are a great way of promoting the social channels and giving them visibility, even to users who don’t use those social platforms.
– The audiences for the different channels might be different but bringing the channels together will help audiences identify the channel they want to engage with. It’s also a great way to help with internal communications – allowing staff and students to see what is going on across the whole university
– Taking “social” content off the social channel might seem to be defeating the point of social media, but remember people will be coming to your site and channels with different levels of awareness, interest and engagement so promoting your social channels on your website is important for that reason. A directory or hub will allow new students and staff to familiarise themselves with the different departments/services, and subscribe to the channels that are most relevant or interesting to them.
– Having a social media directory or hub can also be a good way of incentivising channel managers within your organisation to follow your guidelines or protocols. By creating rules about which accounts are included or not, you are able to highlight and reward the departments that are performing well.
We’ve seen some great examples of social hubs and directories that aggregate content into one place, to help engage audiences and create awareness of the different channels, and here are a few of our favourites:
Social Chapman collects approximately 1,000 social media posts per month from their official social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, and Pinterest.
You can choose to view a list of the accounts – useful for if you’re a student joining a particular academic department, or you can view all updates – good for current students and staff who want to know what’s going on across the University.
The University of Michigan social media hub serves not just as a hub for social media activity, but a resource for staff and students regarding the University’s social media strategy and resources.
The homepage is very visual and aggregates images from the UMSocial blog, as well as galleries published on the website. The images serve as nice adverts for their different channels as well as highlighting key dates, events and activities at the university.
Whilst the primary “corporate” social media channels are the most prominent on the site (as you’d expect!), the social media directory page lists the other departments and services.
UALR have aggregated social media updates from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram to create the “fountain”.
Whilst they don’t have a directory as such, you can filter the content by social media site, and you can see the most recent updates from various different accounts including athletics, alumni, student housing and the main University account.
The University of Huddersfield’s “Social Media Hub” is within the Student Life section of the University website and aggregates content from Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Pinterest.
They have opted to just show updates from the main University accounts, and not the different services and departments across the University although they have a separate social media directory listing the other accounts.
As well as aggregating content from official accounts, the Oxford Brookes social wall shows mentions of the hashtags #wearebrookes and #brookes150 (for their 150th anniversary) and mentions of particular usernames such as @BrookesUnion.
If you’re considering creating a hub or directory, here are a few things to think about before you start:
- Which social media accounts will you include? You may want to develop guidelines to ensure that the accounts included in the directory are representative of the university.
- How will you create it? Some universities (such as Chapman and Michigan) have used in-house developers whilst some (like Oxford Brookes) have paid for an external service.
- Think about what content will be displayed on your webpages. Do you want all re-tweets and replies to other users to appear, or just the updates posted from the accounts? And do you want to include hashtags and search terms?
A social hub or directory can be a good way to aggregate content into one place and really demonstrate the rich social landscape at your university, but there are other ways to promote your social media channels and platforms. Don’t forget to include your social media links (and even feeds) somewhere prominent on your website. And include calls to action on other webpages, and offline promotional material such as prospectuses, letters, banner and digital signage.
And if you want some more ideas, take a look at this blog post from Emma about using your channels to cross-promote your social activity.
Do you have a social media directory or a hub? Are you thinking of developing one? Or do you need help co-ordinating your social media activity? Drop us a line for a chat…