Engaging Your Community Part Two: Getting Started

Now that you’ve chosen which social platforms will fit your community well, it’s time to get going! Sign up for accounts on each of the platforms you’ll be using, and make sure you take a look at the Terms of Service for each one as you begin. If possible, use a general institutional email account to sign up and don’t use a personal password — take the time to create a new one. Make sure to document your account information so your colleagues can access the new accounts if need be. Also, try to keep the handles for your accounts consistent across platforms. Don’t call yourself ABC University on one and ABCU on another. Your organization’s communications style guide should help guide how you name the accounts.

During the first week:

  • Check your account at least once each day. Assign a student or colleague to help you if appropriate.
  • Post something (tweet, post a photo to your Facebook page, save a social bookmark, post a video, put a blog post up … you get the idea).
  • Respond to anyone who interacts with you. Answer questions, congratulate people on news they share with you, suggest resources that might interest them, etc.
  • Match your profile to your existing organizational identity. Refer to that handy style guide and use it to customize your profile colors, profile photo and description. This is a priority because it helps your community intuit that the account is an official part of your organization.

During the first month:

  • Be consistent. Help people know what to expect from you. For example, you could commit to tweeting three times each day, posting something new on your Facebook page three times each week or publishing a new blog post each day.
  • Tell your community you’re trying something new. Add links to your new social presences or channels on your institutional website. Use one social presence to point to another presence (e.g., tweet about your latest YouTube video). Include a blurb in your alumni magazine or admissions email newsletter. Reach out to colleagues who are already on those platforms and help them understand how they can support your efforts.
  • Reach out to any unofficial accounts that relate to your organization. If you aren’t on a popular platform yet, then some enthusiastic student has likely taken it upon herself to represent you. Instead of griping about it in team meetings, reach out to the person who runs the account and help her understand how she can help you.
  • Report back to your team. Share some early stories about how it’s going, and help them understand how they can become involved. At the very least, reporting back might help your colleagues think about content to share with you or other people who might be interested in what you’re doing.

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