The keys to great social media
Social media is a very helpful promotional tool. With its growing popularity, more and more higher education programs and organizations are using sites like Facebook and Twitter to communicate with students. Casper College supports your participation in social media and encourages you to connect to the college’s official social media sites.
The goals of your social media efforts should be to connect with your intended audience(s), start conversations, and build community and relationships. It is not just a tool to broadcast or publish.
Be authentic, transparent and honest.
Your content should always be prepared with your audience in mind. Make it easy for your audience to have a good experience with what you are sharing.
Apply best practices in customer service: social media is a great way to extend customer service efforts for your school/department/organization and become more aware of what people are saying about you.
If you’re interested in creating an official CC account, set up a social media consultation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to start the process.
While social networks are free to set up for your school, department or organization, the work to use and maintain them is not. These are some guidelines for establishing and managing Casper College-affiliated accounts:
- The account name must include “Casper College.”
- The account administrator role will be assigned to the Casper College Office of Public Relations. Only a current Casper College faculty or staff member will be allowed access to the account. The department must identify a primary and secondary person within their area that has the responsibility to the account(s).
- Use of the Casper College logo and brand imagery must be coordinated with the Casper College Brand Standards Manual and Style Guide. Landing page photos and the Casper College logo will be provided by public relations and built to the specific requirements of each account.
- All officially recognized Casper College social media sites are required to post an activity on their site at least every week of the year. Sites that cannot maintain this level of frequency will be removed.
- A link to the college’s nondiscrimination statement must be accessible on the account’s page.
Social media accounts are a great way to reach your target audience, but they can be very time-consuming and require a detailed strategy. You must have a plan to keep them active and relevant to your intended audience. Before creating your account(s), consider the following:
- Who is responsible for managing your social media presence?
- What is your goal?
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What is the message you would like to send?
- What are similar programs doing successfully to connect with their audience?
- Do you have the time and resources to maintain the account and actively engage your audience? Plan on spending at least 30 minutes a day posting content and responding to comments. (CC posts one to two times per day on Facebook and five to 10 times on Twitter at a minimum, while also managing a handful of other social accounts.)
- Can you maintain the site? A site that is slow to respond or contains older content can be more detrimental than not having a site at all.
Based on your goals and audience segmentation, you will need to decide which social media channel(s) make the most sense for your group. Your team will need to decide how to promote your accounts, relevant topics and themes, the frequency of posting (when, what time, how often) and also your plan to engage with the community (answer questions, like posts, retweet, etc.).
It helps to have a goal to work toward. Your objectives should be realistic, attainable, and measurable. There are three basic types of objectives:
- Awareness is information and knowledge. Awareness campaigns increase understanding of something and make the audience more aware of a product or idea.
- Acceptance increases positive attitudes and gains interest. Acceptance campaigns focus on how people react to information.
- Action moves people in a way you would expect. Action campaigns address a hoped-for response to information and feelings.
A site can take months to build a presence and community. If you find people are engaged in conversation and responding to your content, then you’ve accomplished much of what you set out to do.
Measure your results. Social media sites offer a wealth of information about your audience and their activity. Your audience doesn’t have to be large to be effective. The important measures are those that show your audience is engaged including likes, shares, and comments.
Official social media sites of the college are those that public relations recognize as meeting the standards of the college and having administrative rights assigned. Official sites will be set up to “follow” the primary Casper College site and all other official Casper College sites.
Official sites are required to post CC’s standard nondiscrimination paragraph. This can be done in the space provided on the site that tells more about the site’s owner, i.e., “About Casper College.”
Remember, when you post something on an official Casper College social media site, you are speaking on behalf of Casper College as a whole. Therefore, it is important to choose your words wisely and think before you click! Also, review the Casper College Brand Standards Manual and Style Guide to ensure you have everything correct.
Check your facts
Before posting, make sure all information included is accurate, up-to-date, and from a reliable source. This builds trust between you and your social media audience. Double check links to web pages make sure they are accurate and contain the information your social media post might reference.
Correct mistakes immediately
We are all human, and we all make mistakes, but it is important to correct mistakes in a timely and orderly fashion. If ever a mistake is too big to correct on your own, contact the public relations office.
Think before you post
Once you post something online, you may be able to delete it, but you cannot take it back. Once comments are posted, they can easily and quickly be shared, printed, and seen by a large audience.
Avoid doing the following:
- Prematurely disclosing proprietary or confidential information
- Endorsing a third-party good or service
- Posting defamatory statements
- Using photos of people without their permission. Here’s a photo release form.
- Making a copyright or trademark infringement
- Be aware of rules and regulations
Local, state, and federal laws including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) concerning student information and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) related to people’s privacy. In general, no personally identifiable information on anyone but yourself should be shared through social media.
Casper College policies with specific attention to communication policies, facility and equipment use, and acceptable use guidelines for computing resources at Casper College, which includes the connection to the Internet.
Because Casper College is an educational institution, we are held to very high standards. It is very important to proofread to ensure spelling and grammar are correct. It is even a good idea to get someone else from your office to proofread your comments before you post.
Do not “like” your own comments
Of course, you like it, you wrote it! Please refrain from “liking” comments you post.
Growing your initial audience
These tips will help you build your audience when first developing your social media account:
- Invite people in your office and other offices on campus to connect to your page.
- Monitor your posts and the response you get from people following your social media account. You will see people respond to content they find valuable.
- Keep it clean and avoid language that is obscene, vulgar, lewd, or sexually oriented.
- If the site is limited to specific topics, no posts off-topic.
- No posts encouraging illegal activity or have the potential to incite violence.
- Be truthful.
- No sensitive personal information.
- Be nice including no racism, sexism, or any other sort of “ism” that degrades another person. Nothing should be harassing, threatening or discriminatory.
- No spam and no postings of a commercial nature including those that endorse a product, service, entity or individual.
- No posts, content or messages that promote or endorse a political campaign or person.
- No posts, content or messages that could have the potential to endanger public safety.
Determine if you should respond to a comment.
- Always respond in a respectful and professional manner.
- Positive comment about Casper College. You can either let it stand or concur with it, possibly providing additional insight.
- Negative comment about Casper College:
- There is a difference between negative comments and constructive feedback. Constructive comments are helpful and allow the college the opportunity to respond and correct a bad experience.
- If the comment came from a site dedicated to negativity, it’s probably best to avoid responding but continue to monitor the situation.
- If the comment is a rant, rage, joke, or satirical in nature, it’s probably best to avoid responding.
- If the comment includes incorrect information and it doesn’t meet the criteria above, then you should respond with factual information.
- If the comment is the result of a negative experience at Casper College, you should respond and attempt to refer or rectify the situation but don’t get into details rather, handle the details via a private message or email. “I will message you the person you can get in contact with for help.” Or, “I’m really sorry you had a poor experience, please message me so that I can get more information from you and better address your concern.” Or, “I’ve sent you the contact information for someone that can help via a private message.”
- Comments should never be deleted. They may be hidden if these guidelines apply. The college may be asked to produce comments that were posted to college sites when there is a criminal or civil action in question.
- Negative reviews:
- It is always good practice to follow-up with people that give your site or the college a negative review. Reviews come in many forms from prewritten statements to stars to emojis as examples. Generally, follow-up with people that give an average or below average rating via private message and ask them if there is something you can do to improve their rating of us.
- Commenters should be held to the same standards of Casper College employees. Comments that violate the rules for social media noted above should be hidden but there are cases where removing someone’s profile or hiding a comment may become more problematic. Consult with Public Relations before hiding comments.
Trolling is when a person may become angry and post more negative comments in an attempt to undermine productive conversation. A simple solution would be to ban the person’s profile. However, this may lead to them accusing you of censorship or violation of First Amendment rights and can be difficult to handle. Many times, ignoring the commenter will resolve the situation but seek further help from public relations.
If you are unsure how to handle comments, seek the help of public relations.
Social media sites typically offer advertising or advertising-like services. These services allow you to gain access to a broader or targeted population, but they do cost extra. With Facebook, for example, a user can easily “boost” their post for an additional cost or purchase an advertisement to gain more control over who sees the ad. While these services can be highly beneficial, they’re considered advertising and should always be coordinated with public relations.