What Should I Say?

Susan Evans is the director of creative services for the senior strategic communication team at the College of William & Mary.

Content is king. And if you are just getting started with a social media channel, it can be daunting to figure out what to say. Even those of us who have been doing this for a while experience an occasional dry spell or suffer through good, old-fashioned writer’s block. Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned pro, coming up with good stuff to use on your institution’s social media channels is sometimes challenging. The point of this post is to present a few suggestions.

William & Mary Commencement 2011

  1. Photos are content. People consistently respond well to campus beauty shots and pics from events. A superb piece of photography, like the one I’ve included here, needs no words. Well, maybe a caption and photo credit. (Photo by Stephen Salpukas.)
  2. Ask a question. It is, after all, a great way to start a conversation. Besides, teasing out content from the community you are building is completely appropriate in the social media realm. The more they say in the form of comments and retweets, the less you have to create.
  3. Take advantage of bragging rights and tell stories about your students, your alumni, your faculty, your programs and any and all of the other gems you’ve got.
  4. Use bits of teaser copy to tee up links to web pages that have more detail. This approach works well when using events and announcements as content for your channels.
  5. Comment about other people’s stuff; say a few words followed by links to news stories, blog posts, etc.
  6. Create regular features that people enjoy and will come back to see on a regular basis (e.g., a photo of the day, featured faculty profiles, video of the month, trivia, etc.).
  7. Include little known facts about your school. Perhaps something along the lines of  “best kept secrets” would be a well-received regular feature.
  8. Offer updates before, during and after athletic competitions. Nothing brings out pride for your college or university like game scores or a rivalry with other campuses.
  9. Share info about campus goings on. Luckily, the rhythm of the academic year is chock-full of opportunities (e.g., students are moving in, exams start today, enjoy winter break).
  10. Feature the social media channels of others. We often use the William & Mary Facebook page to promote, and give a bump to, the streams of individual programs, units and organizations.
  11. Post quotes from others. Perhaps you will stumble upon a perfect paragraph in an email message from a parent or in a phone conversation with an alum.
  12. Encourage integration of your channels by including content from one social media outlet on another (e.g., post video links from a YouTube channel on Twitter).
  13. Consider posts that evoke emotion and encourage a trip down memory lane (e.g., Congratulations, Class of 2011! We send you off with much pride and expectation. Go do great things!).

When all else fails, talk about the weather. Not kidding here, when we reference the weather in Williamsburg, responses are guaranteed.

3 responses to “What Should I Say?

  1. Krista and Joe,
    Thanks for the positive feedback; it’s always welcome!
    I was actually scratching my head trying to figure out what to write about. And, in a flash, I realized that sometimes practical advice is both useful and appreciated. It ended up being pretty easy to write too.
    I’m all for reflection, analysis, and strategy. But, at the end of the day, doing some stuff is good too.
    Susan

  2. Being in my own social media slump at the moment, it’s great to see posts like this! It’s not easy and it can get tiresome, but the diversity in content seems to be the key. Really appreciate your insight and advice :)

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