Change is constant. In the world of social media, this concept takes on a life of its own. Twitter and Pinterest took the world by storm in the blink of an eye. A “tweet” used to only describe birds and a “pin” referred to sewing. These ordinary words were transformed into social media jargon overnight and popular forms of communication, like print, were no longer enough.
Navigating this constant change is challenging. The time it takes to manage, research and understand each platform and the terminology is exhausting. Not to mention, how does one fold that into your existing strategy? As a communications professional in higher education, there is an added level of difficulty – you are one department among dozens at your university. You have to define your strategy and carve out a niche in line with the mission of your university, your division AND your department. Many communication staff members in higher education have very unique roles, such as social media specialist in career services at a major research university known for business. That is quite the niche.
How do you create a niche? How do you leverage it? How do you keep up? Here a few insights:
1) Claim Your Space. Create your account first, fill in the gaps later. Why? Vanity URLs. Once a name is claimed, it’s gone. Many organizations and celebrities learned this with Twitter the hard way. Consistent branding optimizes your visibility and search engine results, so you need to be consistent with your account names. You do not have to post an update to Facebook, send out a Tweet or Pin an image to Pinterest right away. But, you also do not want someone else taking your name or the headache to reclaim that space.
2) Be Creative. Think about how new tools can support your current work and expand your service in an efficient way. Search for best practices and examples outside of higher education. There are fantastic ideas out there that can be translated into our industry.
3) Embrace The Change. I feed off of the energy created by social media. It’s interactive. There is a lot of information. That is a good thing. It has also become popular and powerful for a reason – people want to talk and connect with each other.
Many of us have been, and still can get, overwhelmed by the dynamic, changing nature of social media. You just need to create a few rules (or use these), to bring some order to the chaos. In the end, we are social beings and these platforms harness that principle in new, exciting and fun ways. Keep that in mind and apply it to your work.