We’ve been really excited to add more Tufts schools and groups to our social web gateway, most recently the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy (fan them on Facebook!), and we’re always happy to talk to people who want to jump into the social media sphere.
But (there’s always a ‘but’) one question that any school, department or organization should ask itself before hopping on the YouTwitFace bandwagon is: Is this right for us?
While services like Twitter and YouTube are game-changers and it is very enticing to dive in without really thinking out a strategy (an action usually driven by not wanting to “fall farther behind the curve”), groups should always ask themselves a couple of key questions before turning down Social Media Lane:
- Who are we talking to? What audiences are you trying to reach? Who’s out there? Who do you need to be reaching out to, and in what fashion? Some of this, you learn as you go, but having at least a basic idea of who you’d like to reach is good — and it may inform whether you commit to social media at all…
- Is this right for us? Will using these services enable us to create the community we want to create, reach the audiences we want to reach, share the messages we want to share?
- What do we hope to achieve? Just like any project, you don’t do it for the sake of doing it — you need a goal, a purpose. Do you want to boost interest in a program? Cultivate awareness of services? Drum up attendance at events? Having those goals in mind from the outset will structure your engagement and, again, tether your social media activity to a broader strategy or goal.
- Will we do this beyond today? There may be a lot of excitement around building a presence on Facebook on Tuesday, but how much will that enthusiasm have waned by Thursday, or the following Tuesday or a month from then? If your social media presence is thought out and tethered to a larger strategy or goal, that makes it more likely that you will sustain that presence. Another factor is…
- Do we have what it takes? Creating a YouTube channel may seem like an awesome idea — it may even dovetail with your broader communications strategy. But… do you have videos? Or resources to get videos made? Can you really maintain engagement on Facebook if you’re short-staffed and need to devote staff to executing the core responsibilities of the group? If you’re interested in a meaningful social media presence, it’s worth figuring out how much of a priority that is, what level of engagement and activity you would like and how many resources you can reasonably dedicate to making that happen.