Kansas State University



10 Questions to ask before starting a social media account

Before starting a new account or adding new channels to your social media presence give some thought to the questions and answers below.

1.) What should my college/department or unit aim to achieve with social media? Consider how you will engage with current and prospective students, alumni, parents, community and corporate stakeholders with informative and creative content. Consider how you will share news and information to support the K-State 2025 visionary plan. How will you provide excellent customer service and drive traffic to your website and blogs?

2.)  Who is your target audience? Before building a social media strategy, understand and define who you’re trying to reach. Include content that is balanced and appealing to all segments of your audience. Different channels speak to different audiences, and what works for one channel might not work for others.

  • For example, Instagram has a younger audience demographic than Facebook and Twitter. At K-State, the university Instagram account content is targeted to prospective and current students and young alumni.
  • Also, consider if your messaging is for an internal or external audience. If your messaging is more for an internal audience consider other forms of communications and social media including K-State Today, direct email campaigns or private Facebook or LinkedIn groups. Understanding your audience will help you create engaging content on the best channel to yield the most effective results.

3.) What are the risks associated with starting a social media account? Social media is changing constantly. Plan to attend university social media roundtables to network and learn about new social media trends.

Risks to consider before starting an account:

  • Errors.
  • Fake or hacked accounts.
  • There are no filters or gate keepers.
  • Legal issues.
  • Trolls. Trolls are people who post inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

The best solution to minimizing these risks is having a solid plan in place prior to setting up a social media account. This blog post will help you get started, but the K-State social media services staff is here to help you. Here are basic solutions to risks listed above.

  • Post content that encourages positive interaction and feedback.
  • Identify hot button issues in your department/unit/program and stay away from posting about them. Have a plan of action in case these issues are posted on social media from an outside account.
  • Make sure you have all the facts before you post. Double-check everything for accuracy, spelling and grammar. Double-check links to ensure they are going to the right web page.
  • Link to your sources when possible and give credit to other university units when you include their updates on your site.
  • Correct errors quickly and visibly.
  • Think twice before retweeting. Be sure the content is relevant to your audience, check to make sure the links are correct and examine photos.
  • To respond to a “troll” on social media, express that you would like to help them and direct the conversation offline. e.g. Thanks for your feedback. Please contact social media@k-state.edu with concerns so we may better assist you.

4.) When will you find the time to manage social media? Consider if  you or other staff members can carve time out of your schedules each day to post, monitor channels and measure outcomes. It will take more than one person to make a university account successful.

5.) Who should set up and maintain our social media accounts? One of the biggest mistakes when launching a social media account is underestimating the amount of time required to respond and moderate discussions.

Designate at least two administrators for each social media account. This makes it easier to keep the social media account active and up-to-date. Create a flexible schedule for posting timely content that is relevant to your unit. To develop a consistent flow of content, determine in advance when and what you will post. Inactive social media accounts reflect negatively on the university. Social Media Services may require that inactive accounts be taken down.

6.) Should we have a presence on all of the popular social media networks?
To begin, build a presence on just one social channel, at least for the first few months. Which channel? Find out what by asking your audience which platforms they use the most.  As your following grows. you may decide to branch out to other channels.

7.) What are the best social networks? K-State has a robust presence on Twitter. President Schulz is very active on Twitter and he and Noel Schulz have been recognized as higher education’s first couple of Twitter.  The K-State Twitter community is collaborative and shares (retweets) news from other departments. Twitter is a great channel to begin on without having to worry about building a following  on channels with limited organic reach.

8.) How often should I post new content on my social networks? Two to five times a day, depending on the channel. Twitter is fast paced and you can retweet content from other users. Your followers visit social-media sites at different times of the day. To reach more of your followers more often, stagger your posts consistently throughout the day. Customize your posts for each channel. It is not considered a best practice to connect accounts and share the same content across channels.

9.) What types of content should I post on which social platforms? Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram are visually heavy. Be selective with images by using high-quality photos that are the correct sizes for various social media channels. Also, find various campus stock photos via University Photo Service’s Zenfolio collection.

Tip: Use the free online service, Canva to design and optimize photos for social media.

On Twitter, aim for a good balance of tweeting about your news and retweeting others’ content. Curate a diverse mix of content types including, photos, short videos, news, tips,  thoughtful questions, etc.) across your social-media platforms to keep things interesting and fresh. See more about creating a Twitter content strategy.

10.)  How can I measure the success and return on investment of my social media marketing efforts? It’s important to continually track your social media marketing metrics in order to gauge which tactics and types of posts work and which don’t.

Most social platforms offer their own metrics. Facebook, for instance, gives Page administrators access to Page Insights data for free. Twitter offers in-depth analytics and a 28-day summary showcasing top performing posts and engagement information.

One of the free tools to view Instagram analytics is iconosquare.com. Use Google Analytics to see how effective your social media campaigns are at driving traffic to your main website or online store.

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