Social Circles - How to engage on social media
Phrases such as virtual communities, meaningful dialogue and collaborative conversations float around our social media strategies but what do they mean on a simple practical level.
I run a number of social media channels and attempting to create something effective amidst the noise of constant requests to “post this”, “tweet this” or “can we do something now around this trending hashtag” can be a challenging endeavour.
We know that social media has the potential to add reach, depth and greater visibility to our communications but how do we harness its potential and integrate it into both on and offline communications?
There are a lot of answers to this question but I would like to focus on the idea of a social circle and how we can use social media to enrich our communications, crowdsource content and build supporter voices into our messaging.
It is tempting to jump onto every social bandwagon, from Back to the Future to trending hashtags, but trying to contort your message to fit a trend is both time consuming and rarely effective. Plus, by treating social media as a standalone, disconnected entity we are not utilising it effectively.
If we want to generate engagement and participation we firstly need to be selective about what trends we use and then we need to demonstrate that all participation is appreciated and valuable. We do this by setting up social circles.
For example, we can use weekday hashtags (#MotivationMonday, #TipTuesday, #ThrowBackThursday) to pose questions to our online community, we then build the responses into our mainstream communications, publish to our primary space (usually a website) and then signpost, circulate and promote.
All promotional activity should thank participants and encourage them to share and circulate amongst their networks. To complete the circle we review performance via simple metrics and online analytics before circulating internally as a way of generating new ideas and organisational buy in.
The more we demonstrate the importance of social media interactions, the more we encourage people to set aside a little of their smartphone time to become part of our digital community.
Sonia Mullineux, Head of Alumni Communications, University of Edinburgh
Sonia Mullineux began working in digital communications straight from university at a small independent publishing house in Birmingham. She has worked primarily online ever since, and is now Head of Alumni Communications at the University of Edinburgh and responsible for the delivery of an integrated alumni and donor communications strategy that utilises both online and offline communications channels.