Tips for starting a social media account

header_getting_startedStarting a social media account for a publication can be overwhelming. No matter if your staff is on Twitter, Instagram or whatever other new social media platform awaits us in the future, here are some tips for getting started on a social media account.

  • Develop a policy. Social accounts need to be a part of an editorial policy. Follow the same guidelines of print guidlines: be accurate, be objective, be clear, and correct mistakes. Look at examples for help.
  • Define a purpose for the social account. It is not about being on every possible social platform. It is about developing a presence on a social platform that makes the most sense for your publication. The different social sites have different personalities and purposes. Find which one will work best for your purpose.
  • The whole staff needs follow/like the account. They can help promote the account and invite friends to follow. Staffers can also promote their work through their own social accounts as well.
  • Follow and be followed. It is important to build an audience, and following is a part of building that community.
  • Engage with people. This can be done in a variety of ways. Prompt your audience with a question. Respond when someone mentions you or leaves a comment on our page. It can also mean responding to someone who hasn’t mentioned you. For example someone asks what time the pep assembly starts on Twitter, then respond with the answer. This will help make your account a go-to reliable source. Tag people in posts when possible.
  • Be consistent. Post daily, or multiple times a day depending on the platform being used. Sometimes students struggle with knowing what to post, so creating a reoccurring post topic can help. Look at popular trends for help. Like throwback-Thursday (#tbt), a best of the week photo album, ask a variety of people a question and post one answer a day/week. There are ways to create reoccurring content that will help with consistency.
  • Stay organized. On Facebook, keep photo albums organized. On Twitter make lists. Make lists for teachers, alumni, school activites, local businesses. This will help clear up the stream and will make engaging with other users much more manageable.
  • Use an 80/20 rule. In order to build relationships, you have to be in tune with what is interesting for your audience. 80% of the time the posts should not be about your publication but posts that engage and interest your audience. You have to build a relationship with them, so when you need them to read an article or purchase a yearbook, they will be more inclined to.  The other 20% of the time should be self-promotion. For example if you were a cat food company then 80% of the time you should post cute cat picture, videos or articles, and 20% of the time specials about your company.
  • Don’t be a robot. It is ok to have a voice and personality. Just keep it consistent. Be conversational with posts and updates. Keep the voice professional and consistent, but people want to interact with a personality, not a machine.
  • Learn from others. Follow people who can help you learn. That can be professional news organizations, other schools, or advisers. Connect with local news organizations for help and feedback on your social accounts.
  • Publicize the account. Make sure people know about the account. Hang up fliers, create the hashtags for events at the school, have a contest through the social account.

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