Sorry to disappoint… this post isn’t about Wu-Tang (sorta). It’s about an amazing post I read on Eduniverse by social media strategist Liz Gross called: The Key to Becoming a Social Business? Stop Focusing on Social Media
The title itself is a concept really, huh? How do you stop focusing on social media when that’s kinda your job description? Well, here are some quotes I pulled from the post that really get down to ideas I’ve been struggling with… the tug of war between tactics and strategy. One-offs vs. large scale ideas.
Social media is simply a tool. Right now those tools include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. I’m fully expecting those names to fall out of rotation and be placed by others within a few years
This is why I’m not chomping at the bit to bust out an Instagram video strategy, or snatch up as many Pinterest followers as possible before the platform figures out how to monetize. I’m more concerned with using these new, shiny tools to impact key business metrics like customer satisfaction than with the number of Facebook likes I acquire daily or how many impressions our last tweet received. I’m more concerned with being an internal agent of change, and helping my organization leverage the latest social technologies in a way that helps us be better
The post was directed more towards businesses, agencies and companies… but how do we factor this in to higher-ed? It’s tricky with higher-ed because we’re not trying to sell an education, right? I mean we are, but we’re not. We’re packaging it as less a product, and more a story. We’re trying to get prospects to become part of the story of college. Because college is pretty awesome, right?
(By the way, here’s a cool breakdown between corporate speak and higher-ed speak. The language is essential.)
It’s easy to lose sight of the story when we’re too caught up with increasing follower growth or trying to get the most reach. When we focus too much of our attention on those details, you’ve allowed the social channel to become a capital-S and capital-C “Social Channel”… as in the network has control over outcomes, rather than you taking full responsibility. Sounds familiar…
Joking aside, this can lead to an increase in one-off posts that, yes, give you a lot of reach, and also grab the eyes of potential followers but (at the end of the day) doesn’t provide any value, engagement and overall contribution to the story of your brand/institution.
I’m guilty of it, too. And it’s not just me, but I see a lot of universities do that with their social media strategy. Photos of beautiful buildings and nature on campus. It’s so easy to do those posts, and especially in the summer, you fall victim to one-offs all the time because content isn’t flowing as rapidly and heavily as Fall/Spring.
Social media is a vessel and tool… not the one that steers or wields. As a manager/strategist/etc, we must wield the tools to communicate and find unique ways to communicate with each tool. Whether it’s to provide customer service via Twitter, or creating Facebook groups for accepted students to hangout, or using Instagram to take photos of colorful graduation caps.
Reading Liz Gross’ article led me to think about my flow for social media strategy. How to go about an idea like #FIUFinals or campaigns like that. I broke it down to 6 things.
Idea is the thought in really no form… but with a target.
Strategy comes from having that idea evolve, Pokemon-style, into large-scale, 40,000-foot-view, Charizard shit… as in how does it affect the story of your brand and will it persevere.
Tool refers to the social channels that fit the idea. If something works better on Instagram than go with that. Communication predates the tool.
Execution is the implementation and the action going forth. Be attentive, patient and strategic. This is like the GZA/Liquid Swords phase of the idea-flow.
Engage refers to, not only your audience, but you as well. We’re talking with, not talking to.
Lastly, record… which has you analyzing your metrics and seeing how affective, numbers-wise, the idea was. NREAM – Numbers Rule Everything Around Me… which at the end of the day it does. If there was no engagement, then there was a roadbump in the flow. Ideas need to materialize and be strategized. The beauty of the “record” is that it forces you to analyze your faults and fix them for next time.
Notice, however, that I didn’t specify a social platform in the flow. It’s because communication predates the bells and whistles, and when social media isn’t relevant anymore… one thing will be and that’s communication. You can learn the “how” easily, it’s the “what” and the “why” that is hard.
P.S. I get all of my social media blog posts idea from the Wu.