Keys to Success

We’ve learned a lot in this time together.  We’ve worked through blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, posting strategy, posting evaluation, and ethics.  So what all have we learned?  Whether it was blogging or Snapchat or posting strategy, there are a few consistent tools you need when working with any kind of social media for your organization.

  1. Know Your Audience.  Needless to say that regardless of what your topic or organization is when posting, you need to know who you’re addressing.  Knowing your audience will determine what you post, when you post it, and also where you post it.  Who does your topic affect?  Who is going to care about your information?  Different audiences will require different needs.
  2. Be Knowledgeable. Regardless of what your page or blog may be about (be it a topic or an organization), you want to know what you are talking about.  You won’t know everything there is to know right from the beginning so do your research.  Whether it is going online to find more information on your topic or just looking more in depth into your organization,  you want to keep learning.  Doing research also will make you more credible and save you some grief in the long run.
  3. Stick to Plain Language.  A media writing guide by the CDC says that it is super important to use plain language when using any kind of social media.  No one wants a bunch of jargon or long- technical terms thrown at them,  Use language that engages your reader without talking over their heads.  This can go for tone as well.  It’s important to keep it conversational while still being informative.
  4. Be Interactive.  The whole purpose of social media is to create something more than just spewing information on a website.  Social media creates an opportunity for communication between an organization and its audience to go from a one-way communication to a two-way communication.  Social media allows for people to communicate with an organization directly while also interacting with people following the page.  Being interactive can come in many forms whether you want to create a poll, use infographics, post questions, or ask for feedback, there are a whole list of ways to be interactive with your audience.
  5. Keep Track of What’s Working. It’s important to keep track of the progress and success of your page.  Analytics is a new way to keep track of what is and what is not working on your different social media pages.  You can track what people like, what posts got shared the most, and what got the most attention.  This is useful because it allows you to keep track of what posts are doing well and what people liked the most.  You would’t want to waste time making posts that people aren’t responding well to when you could be producing content similar to those that were doing well.

While social media can be confusing at times, it is worth the success that comes from using it.  Social media offers a chance for organizations to branch out and brand themselves online.  Onward to success.

Let’s Get Ethical

By this point, you have learned about social media websites, the best strategies for creating content, and even how to check and see how successful your content is, but now it is time to think about how your content will affect/is affecting the people who see it.

When it comes to social media, producers have certain ethical obligations when creating and spreading content.  We have to take into account what considerations we should take into account before posting anything or how our personal social media presence might affect our organization’s media presence.

Things to Consider

When posting things for your organization or campaign, there are a few things to think about before hitting that “Post” button.  Can your content offend or insult anyone?  Is it helpful?  Can it be easily misinterpreted?

Understanding what is best to post or not to post can be difficult, but there are ways of taking some of the pressure off you.  Different websites, such as the TEAM Up page, have created different sets of guidelines for posting about specific content.

For example, TEAM Up created a set of social media guidelines for posting about mental health and suicide prevention.  Of course, this is not the end-all-be-all for what you can and cannot post, but taking these guidelines into consideration can save you a lot of grief in the long run.

Contrary to what your natural instinct may be, avoid going trendy with your content.  The Think Progress website referred to one tragic attempt of being trendy that eventually crashed and burned, i.e. “The Dress” made by the Salvation Army.
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salvation army

“The Dress” was originally created to address the issue of domestic violence by using the then-popular topic of the White and Gold Dress vs. the Black and Blue Dress.  Unfortunately, this attempt backfired and brought on an onslaught of angry comments about the ad.  While the original “The Dress” trend was lighthearted, using it in relation to a serious topic made the issue of domestic violence seem “less serious.”

Dealing with Negative Comments

All of your posts can’t be winners, so there might be a time when your organization receives backlash from something you post.  Now this does not always call for taking down the post itself.  In one instance, MAC Cosmetics was slammed with a wave of racist comments after they posted a picture of an African American woman’s lips on their page.  Sometimes the negative reaction people have to content is because of their own personal prejudices, but that is not to say the content itself is bad.

So what do you do when people start commenting negatively on your post?  An article by Insight180 offes a few tips on dealing with negative comments:

  • Always respond. Whether it is your organization actually responding or the community responding, it is always important to address the issue.  By responding with a positive tone shows that you and your organization have nothing to hide.
  • Contact the commenter privately.  By contacting them privately, you are showing the commenter that you are trying to resolve the situation.  It also allows your organization to control the negative content by keeping it in a private message rather than on the public page where everyone can see it.
  • Delete and Ban. If a commenter is posting profane, unjustified, or rude comments on a post, it is best to just delete the comment itself and, again, contact the user privately.  If you come across a user persistent on posting inappropriate comments, it may just be better to ban or block them altogether.

At the end of the day, there are certain obligations producers have when creating, posting, and maintaining content.  Remember to think before you post and create/maintain a safe environment for your audience to discuss and comment.

Check Your Stats

You’ve made it through creating pages for your organization, you’ve learned how to produce good content for your page, but how do you know if what you’re doing is successful?  Tracking your analytics will tell you just how successful you’re doing on social media.

Tracking analytics is one way to find out exactly what is working for your page and what isn’t working, otherwise you could be wasting time in certain areas.

Contrary to popular belief, success on social media does not consist of how many posts you’ve made, your follower to following ratio, or how often you post.  What matters is what happens after you post.

Avinash Kaushik says, “Did you grab attention? Did you deliver delight? Did you cause people to want to share? Did you initiate a discussion? Did you cause people to take an action? Did your participation deliver economic value?”

In the past, people and companies would have to spend large amounts of money finding people or programs to do their analytics for them, but with social networks constantly updating and changing, sites like FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter have created analytic dashboards right on the website and app for free!

twitter-analytics-dashboard

Here are a few “How To” sites on how to use analytics for each site: TwitterFacebookLinkedIn.

Understanding Your Stats

Kaushik describes four different metrics that can be used to analyze social media:

  • Conversation Rate: The conversation rate is the number of audience comments per post. It’s fairly easy to determine this rate on most social media (Facebook, specifically) because it will give you the total number of comments per post.  On other sites, such as Twitter, it is a little more difficult to calculate.  You often have to take into account the quote-tweets and the mentions that come from a tweet.
  • Amplification Rate: Amplification is the rate at which your followers share your content through their network.  This could be a share a Facebook or a retweet on Twitter.  It is important to take this specific statistic into consideration when planning future content because this shows what content people found most shareable.
  • Applause Rate: This one is basically what it sounds like.  The Applause rate is how many people liked or favorited your post.  This is quite literally how many “applauded” your content by liking it.
  • Economic Value: Economic value is the sum of short and long term revenue and cost savings.  Another way to describe this rate is a page’s ROI (Return on Investment).  This could be how many donations your page is generating or how much money your page is bringing in.

It’s All About Strategy

Creating the different social media accounts is half the battle when it comes to being successful online.  While social media can have incredible pay off when used well. success does not come without strategy.  Strategy can be a make or break key when it comes to making your mark online.smm_icons

Before we get started, just a refresher on the basics.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Guide to Writing for Social Media reiterates that successful social media campaigns should have four main goals: defining a target audience, determining objectives, choosing the right media for your message, and determining how much time and effort to put into it.

Another point made by the CDC is using plain language when working on social media.  Using a lot of jargon and technical terms often turns people off to whatever information you are trying to present.  The same can be said for long, dense posts.  If a person cannot easily pick out information and understand it, how can we expect them to want to engage with it?  The CDC gives a few tips when using plain language:

  • Quickly engage the reader
  • Limit use of jargon, technical, or scientific language
  • Write in active voice
  • Keep messages short
  • Write in a friendly but professional tone
  • Choose familiar terms, and use them consistently
  • Use numbers when they help you make your point

When it comes to creating content, it’s important to keep your audience in mind and cater to their needs when posting.

Creating Content

Social media won’t always be a “schedule and leave it alone” ordeal.  A lot of the time, social media pages are going to need attention and maintenance.  The CDC says social media content should be relevant, useful, engaging, easy to understand/share, friendly, and action-oriented.

If you’re running short on ideas, Forbes created a helpful list of ways to engage with your audience through content. A few examples are:

  • Create polls
  • Use infographics
  • Fill-in-the-blank posts
  • Post questions
  • Post pictures of your product, your company, or an employee
  • Ask for input and feedback

A sure-fire way of creating good, quality content is planning it out ahead of time.  Similar to writing papers in school drafting and editing can be crucial to how the content will eventually turn out.  Planning it out ahead of time also allows the content to look better put together and intentional.  It also gives you time to brainstorm different ideas and decide what ideas would work best rather than trying to throw something together last minute.

When planning ahead, it is not only about the content itself, but the day and time you plan on posting it.  If a holiday or event is coming up, your organization would want to adjust as needed.  You wouldn’t want to be posting about healthy tips for Thanksgiving in June.

Finally, it is incredibly important to listen to your audience.  What posts are getting the most attention?  Which ones are receiving the most likes, shares, or retweets?  Pay attention to what your audience is responding to and what they want to see and work from there.