UD senior news editor Meredith Chapman (center) joins a discussion on social media strategy at the June 21 Employee Development Roundtable where she was a featured panelist and moderator.

Social media best practices

Social media experts engage Employee Development Roundtable

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12:55 p.m., July 16, 2013--There was no shortage of responses when attendees at the University of Delaware’s eighth Employee Development Roundtable were asked to name some of the questions and challenges surrounding their implementation of a social media strategy for their organizations.

Those questions included which social media platforms should our organization be “on,” what should our social media strategy be and how should we measure its effectiveness, and how often -- and what -- should we post? 

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Professionals from nearly 50 of the region’s businesses and organizations attended the Employee Development Roundtable to focus on social media strategy. The June 21 event was sponsored by UD’s Division of Professional and Continuing Studies, the UD Career Services Center and the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, and was held at the Marriott Courtyard Newark at the University of Delaware.

A panel representing some of Delaware’s top social media strategists took their cues from the list of audience-submitted questions, and led an interactive discussion of social media best practices, and how social media tools can be used to engage customers, clients and the community.

Moderated by Meredith Chapman, senior news editor at UD, the panel also featured Kelly Bachman, social media manager for Delaware Gov. Jack Markell; Kristin Davis, vice president of communications and marketing for the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement (DANA); and Lori Seaman, social media director for AAA Club Partners.

The panelists shared a wide range of insights into social media best practices, drawing from their experiences in a variety of environments. Some highlights:

  • Social media environments are about building relationships and community. Communicating via social media is about relating to your audience and addressing what they’re interested in. “How can we get people to care?” is the question Davis says an organization should brainstorm in order to come up with their social media message. If your posts are solely about promoting your product or organization, your audience will get tired of being talked “at” and move on.
  • Social media may not be for everyone. Some organizations feel a great deal of pressure to be “on” social media because everyone else is. Instead, individual organizations should evaluate their own needs and goals. Who is the audience? What is the goal of engaging that audience? What should the organization’s message and content be? Do they have the resources to sustain a presence on a given social media platform?
  • Be cautious with your message. “Would it be appropriate as a newspaper headline?” is the litmus test Bachman suggests before posting anything for your organization. Content posted on social media “goes live” instantly, will exist virtually forever, and is often re-posted and re-purposed in other media environments. Would your content be appropriate if it were quoted in another venue or seen by a wider audience, representing yourself and your organization? 
  • Create a flow of information within your organization. In a large or medium-sized business or organization, staff managing the organization’s social media outlets don’t automatically know all the “good stuff” happening in all departments. Communication can occur through team meetings, in-house social media posting calendars, and creating organized channels for passing along content. Chapman detailed her creation of an electronic Social Media Content Submission Form built with a simple Google App.
  • Build on existing marketing and communication efforts. As Seaman pointed out, “It’s important to remember that most of us already understand many aspects of social media. We already understand marketing, customer service, reputation management, recruitment, and so on. Social media is simply a new tool that can support our organizations’ existing strategies more effectively, or with a wider reach. There might be a desire to use social media for any and all purposes, but it may be more effective to prioritize and choose a few appropriate goals that an organization wants social media to help achieve.”

The roundtable was well-received by participants, many of whom enthusiastically commented about the responsiveness of the panelists, and the tips and take-aways gained at the event. One attendee stated, “I felt much more comfortable about attacking social media challenges...it doesn't seem as overwhelming as it did before I attended the roundtable.”

Panelists Seaman and Chapman will be serving as instructors in the University’s Social Media Marketing Strategy program beginning this fall, designed for businesses and organizations who want to use social media to help market their products and services.

Several roundtable attendees expressed interest in volunteering their organizations to serve as case studies for the program, with the potential benefit of receiving social media recommendations resulting from the program participants’ professional projects. 

By the way, the panelists agreed that the maximum number of Facebook posts in one day for any organization should almost never be more than two, except in very rare cases, when there are extremely compelling messages.

For information about the Social Media Marketing Strategy program or the next Employee Development Roundtable, contact UD’s Division of Professional and Continuing Studies at continuing-ed@udel.edu or 302-831-7600, or visit the website.

Article by Nora Riehl Zelluk

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

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