How to Develop Your Social Media Strategy for Alumni Engagement – Part 2

In my last post, I outlined how to engage your online ambassadors as you develop your online and social media strategy. Now I’ll describe the components that make up a good strategy.

After (or better yet, before) you’ve forged strong relationships with online ambassadors, your strategy will serve as your road map for anyone in your organization charged with managing the conversation with your members and other constituents online. The strategy is a document that clearly communicates what your alumni association is trying to accomplish online and how you’re going to do it. Post it online so that it’s available to your conversation managers 24 hours a day (the Internet never sleeps).

The strategy should include the following:

A social media strategy should serve as your organization’s online road map.

Goals What are you trying to accomplish? Put this in writing and make sure everyone knows AND understands your goals.

Realistic Look at Resources In a perfect world, you’ve hired a full-time online and social media manager (eventually, they’ll be as commonplace as communication directors …or maybe they’ll be the communication director). However, if the decision to hire a social media manager hasn’t been made yet, you’ll need to make do with what you already have. Often that means forming a committee of current employees to manage content and conversations online. For a great example of where that’s working well, have a look at this video on UNC’s social media committee for development.

Resources might also include any capital investments you make. For example, do you want to invest in high quality camera gear? Maybe you have the budget to invest in a green-screen studio for your organization?

Tools Facebook? Instagram? Pinterest? What are you going to use to get your message across? It helps your conversation managers if this is clearly established and put in writing.

Tactics (a.k.a. your Content Strategy) This is a crucial component to your online and social media strategy. This is what an alumni relations officer will refer to at 5 pm on a Saturday when they’re trying to answer a time-sensitive question from a prominent alum via Twitter. Your tactics will instruct conversation managers on what they should post and when. What makes for good video content? What photo galleries are most popular? What items should be avoided at all costs? Part of your content strategy will already be determined by what your audience tells you they want. The rest should be focused on how you’re planning on working your messages into that content that meets audience demand.

Method of Measurement This is a crucial component that will tell you whether what you’re doing is working or if you need to change course. And there’s nothing wrong with changing course. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why you measure your strategy’s progress toward reaching your goals. The best online and social media strategies are the result of multiple revisions over time. Even if you get it right the first time, your audience’s needs and wants will change and you need to be ready to change with them. Keeping track of your strategy with multiple methods of measurement will help you do that.

Justin Ware is the Director of Interactive Communication at Bentz Whaley Flessner. For more on Justin, click here.

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