Don’t waste time on social media

Photo of workshop attendees doing an exercise in a seminar room of the University of Loughborough in London

Answering an exercise about purposeful social media, at the University of Loughborough in London

Loughborough University’s multi-award-winning digital comms team led a workshop Purposeful Social Media for Education and Skills Communicators on 17th May. Here Alun Edwards, service delivery manager for Public Engagement and Outreach, reports back from this event run by the CIPR Education and Skills Group. And how do you try not to waste your time on social media? Well, the judges’ comments on a recent award for the University of Loughborough’s social media work says it all:

‘Their breadth of media choice and ability to do it all on such a low budget was very creative. This appears to be a well considered campaign with a strong brand tie-in.’

How should we do the same?

At the workshop I met colleagues from MSD, Social Sciences and PAD. We all found there examples of two-way engagement and preparing a campaign. What I took away (from what was actually more a ‘101 – social media strategy for admissions’) is how to empower staff to engage using social media during a live event. For example, we were recommended to use Trello for content planning like assigning tasks and managing a timeline. I have used Trello for management tasks for years, but never for a social media campaign:

‘All this preparation frees us up to be more creative on the day!’ – Jonathan Walters, Web and Digital Manager, Loughborough University 

And how will I do the same?

Current social media campaigns which I am assisting the University with include:

  • #OxTalent2017: to demonstrate the hard work by all the entrants, but especially the winners so that we reinforce what is great about the University. My style is always very visual, but I was prompted to plan how to capture content during the event that could be used to feed future campaigns, not least the Digital Education Strategy.
  • Lest We Forget: the University is launching a brand new project in June 2017 to save the stories of the First World War. Follow us on our journey now on Facebook, and at #ww1CollectionDay.
A photo of British tommies in a studio with the social media campaign hashtag #ww1CollectionDay

One last effort. Let’s save the stories of war #ww1CollectionDay

Two-way engagement

Academic IT has long been an advocate of two-way engagement. Our history was recorded in the Jisc report by Chris Batt Consulting, Digitisation, Curation and Two-Way Engagement (2009), and our subsequent work in RunCoCo: How to Run a Community Collection Online (2011), a report which presents a simple A, B, C of advice for projects and groups who aim to ‘crowdsource’ with sustainable success:

  • Aim for Two-way engagement;
  • Be part of your community;
  • Challenge your assumptions.
Screenshot of Twitter from Eric Stoller et al about Generation Z

Reactions on Twitter to ThinkWithGoogle report on Generation Z

Social media is just another channel for two-way engagement, and something we have been involved in since before 2007.  The workshop emphasised for PR and communications professionals the power and flexibility of social and digital engagement:

  • Ways of designing and deploying a coherent social media strategy;
  • Choosing the right platform mix (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and others);
  • Planning and creating content;
  • Developing different aims/uses for different channels;
  • Engaging with influencer networks;
  • Social monitoring, metrics and evaluation; and
  • How your social media strategy fits in with the overall communications, PR and stakeholder engagement strategy.

I found at this workshop ammunition to reinforce my belief that everyone should be using online platforms (mobile especially) to engage with stakeholders, staff, students. I found inspiration to add to: e.g.

Image credits:
Seminar: Jonathan Walters (from Twitter), Web and Digital Manager at Loughborough University

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