Using Social Media
From students to faculty members, from parents to staff members, everyone is using Facebook, YouTube, and other social media websites. If you want to reach your audience, consider using social media, too.
Social media is a catch-all term that encompasses everything from well-known websites for staying in touch with friends, such as Facebook, to an ever-expanding host of websites, web-based tools, and mobile phone apps for blogging, sharing video and photos, and collaboratively creating wikis and other documents.
Don’t feel like you need to use every social media website out there. No one does—there are just too many.
By delving into the world of social media, you can spread the word about your department or unit—and, even better, build a community, and get help in communicating your message from enthusiastic fans, friends, and colleagues.
Rutgers Social Media Directory
Check out the Rutgers Social Media Directory to see all the channels dedicated to bringing you the latest news and information.
Social Media Tools
Learn more about each of these social networking applications.
Facebook: Build an online community around your unit’s activities.
You can use Facebook to develop an online community and share information about events and programs. Your audience—students, in particular—may be more likely to find you at Facebook than at your website. To get started, visit the Facebook guide to Facebook Pages—a way to provide a home on Facebook to interact with your audience.
Twitter: Share brief messages of 140 characters or less.
The social networking phenomenon known as Twitter lets you post brief, telegraphic messages of 140 characters or less. By posting to Twitter, you can share information about your organization, as well as information your audience would be likely to find interesting. Visit Twitter to create a Twitter account and start posting.
YouTube: Grab attention with short, smart, compelling videos.
YouTube videos can attract attention from a worldwide audience. Of course, you’ll need to produce videos worthy of sharing. Just remember: keep your videos short—often two minutes or less—in order to keep viewers interested.
LinkedIn: Rev up professional networking.
Your school or department may want to consider forming a group on LinkedIn as a way to interact with students, alumni, or even partners in government and industry. Consult LinkedIn’s resources for forming a LinkedIn group.
Flickr: Share your photos and invite your audience to share theirs.
The photo-sharing service Flickr can be a way to allow students, faculty, and others to contribute photos for display at your website.
Other Social Media Tools/Websites: Explore emerging social media.
New social media tools pop up all the time, many of them optimized for viewing on mobile phones. Meanwhile, the websites for traditional media, such as newspapers and magazines, are adding social media features to their websites.
These services are all about sharing. The more you can encourage your fans and followers to share your news articles, event lists, and other content at these spots, the better you’ll be able to promote your organization.
Location-based Social Networking and “Check-ins”: Social networking websites, such as Foursquare, are all about connecting with people when you’re on the go, typically with a mobile phone. These services often emphasize “check-ins”—that is, the ability to check into a specific location (the Rutgers Student Center, say), when you arrive there.
User-Generated News: Services such as Digg and Reddit deliver the news based on the recommendations of readers. The more times a story is recommended, the more likely that it will appear on the homepages of these services.
Social Media Integration Tools
You can encourage your fans and visitors to share information right from your website with tools for social media integration. What’s more, these tools also make it possible for you to display social media content, such as a Twitter stream or a YouTube video, on your own webpages.
These tools should give you a sense of some of the possibilities:
- Facebook: Facebook’s social plug-ins are a popular way to encourage your readers to share your news stories, events, and other content.
- YouTube: You’re able to embed YouTube videoson your pages, or even encourage other people to embed videos you have created.
- Twitter: Twitter provides an assortment of buttons and widgets to encourage others to share your information on Twitter.
- Flickr: The photo-sharing service lets you embed Flickr images at your website.
- Share buttons: Services such as AddThis and ShareThis allow you to add buttons to your content to ease the way for readers to share your content at a variety of social networking sites and services.
Your Social Media Strategy
Working with social media takes time. Plenty of organizations start a blog—or a YouTube channel, or a Twitter stream—only to let it fade into oblivion after several weeks or months. Before you jump on the social media bandwagon, consider these issues:
- Who will be responsible for your particular foray into social media, whether that means posting to Twitter or monitoring Facebook?
- How will these new tasks fit into that person’s other responsibilities? Also, who can serve as a backup when that person is unavailable?
- What are the goals for your social media campaign, and how will you track them?
- If you’re allowing readers to share information (on Facebook, for example), how will you address inappropriate material? For an example of a policy to post, see the policy available for the Rutgers University Facebook fan page.