The best social media guides on the web often come directly from the very sites that we wish to use for marketing, promotion, and engagement. Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, and YouTube provide a plethora of resources that student affairs practitioners can use in their strategic communication endeavors. In no particular order, here are 8 sites that you can use to learn the "business" of social media:
Facebook for Business: Created specifically for businesses who want to use Facebook for marketing purposes, this section of Facebook's website is exceptionally helpful for administrators who want to use Facebook for engagement, education, and communications. The "Facebook Basics" section will assist practitioners in setting up a page, identifying (and focusing on) their audience, content creation, promotion, and measurement of content. Facebook for Business was created for businesses, but student affairs professionals can use it for what it really is: a guide for how to use Facebook as a communications platform. Facebook is 10 years old...if your department is still waiting to see if this thing called "The Facebook" is legit, now is the time to check out Facebook for Business.
Pinterest for Business: If you think that Pinterest is all about tattoos, popsicle sticks (hello DIYers!), and boards for "in case I get married" pins, well...you are are partly right. However, the beauty of Pinterest is that it is all about curated content. Student affairs divisions, departments, and areas have a massive amount of targeted curation potential. Pinterest for Business provides you with a variety of information on how you can use Pinterest strategically. Get started with "Pinning Principles" and you'll be well on your way to curating meaningful content for your students.
Instagram for Business: Facebook is kind of clunky on mobile devices. Thankfully, Facebook purchased Instagram and has left the image/video intact to create an amazingly user-friendly mobile and web experience. Unsurprisingly, brands have flocked to Instagram as a platform for promotion and engagement. The business site for Instagram currently redirects to their business blog. On the blog, you can "explore how businesses are using Instagram through tips, brand spotlights, API examples, and news." If you're thinking about using Instagram for admissions, career services, leadership programs, or for most other functional areas within student affairs, take a look at Instagram...it's mobile AND human friendly.
Twitter for Business: This has been my favorite destination to share with new (or super skeptical) users of Twitter. As Twitter has evolved since 2006, so has the Twitter for Business website. If you're looking for basics or a 101 about Twitter, this site has everything that you need to know. For more advanced users, check out the section on building community. Additionally, Twitter has created a parallel site for new "Twitterati" called Discover Twitter. This site is all about teaching new users the core structure of our favorite 140 character social media site.
YouTube Creator Hub: The first section of the YouTube Creator Hub (the title says it all) is all about teaching you what you need to know in order to an effective creator of web videos for YouTube. Learn about analytics, content creation tools, and ways that you can build a community / increase viewership. The Education section of this site is full of resources, strategies, and useful tips. One of my all-time favorite guides for YouTube, the "Creator Playbook" can be found within the Creator Hub.
Google+ Brands: Let's face it, most student affairs offices should operate like brands when it comes to how they use social media for engagement, customer service, promotion, and even for teaching/learning. The tactics and strategies are quite similar. Google+ hasn't exactly become the uber-popular social media site that Google would like it to be. However, because Google is Google, they can control their search algorithm. Use the Google+ Brands site to learn how to set up a Google+ page for your department as well as to claim your very own custom URL. You might not need a lot of content on your Google+ page at the moment, but it's nice to be able to have another way to direct students to your content. Sometimes a simple web search can lead a student to a Google+ page which can direct them to your website for more information. On the horizon, Google+ Communities are starting to gain momentum. More to come on this topic in a future post.
LinkedIn for Higher Education: Okay, technically this isn't a "for business" page. However, it's a super useful guide for higher education practitioners who want to get better at using LinkedIn as well as teach their students how to effectively use the platform. The introductory text says it all: "We're here to support all you do, from preparing students for careers and engaging alumni to marketing and admissions outreach." LinkedIn has become the go-to site for prospective students and alumni of institutions. Now, if only we could get more current students on board. By the way, if you're a student affairs professional, please get on LinkedIn. Show your students how to use it, be a role model for them, and teach them about the importance of LinkedIn recommendations (and the potential importance of LinkedIn endorsements).
Tumblr for Business: Tumblr is immensely popular. 125,000 news users sign up for Tumblr on a daily basis. If you're thinking about setting up a content distribution channel for your office, consider Tumblr as an option. Tumblr's business site has everything you need to know about what it takes to be successful on Tumblr. The section on getting started is your introduction to Tumblr and it's a great place to learn more about storytelling, content, and tactics for engagement.
While most of these resources are not higher education specific, they can provide ample direction, information, and tips. The next time someone is looking for a 101-level guide for one of these social media sites, feel free to direct them to this post or directly to the links that I provided above. If your office has been "waiting for the right moment" to use social media, now is that time. Jump in the social media pool, start experimenting, learn the nuance of these sites, and amplify your engagement and communication with your students.
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