On 19th November, I ran a session on creating and using a social media plan. Although social media is, by it’s very nature, ephemeral and casual in tone, if it is approached in a too casual way, it can generate confusion, chaos and anxiety. A planned approach, on the other hand, can help to organise thoughts and direct efforts.
The benefits of planning can help with –
- Raising your personal-professional profile
- Promoting a specific event
- Promoting a specific piece of work
The plan itself is built using –
- A blog as the foundation and using blog posts for the most comprehensive, detailed and thoughtful writeups of events (more on events, below).
- Promoting blog posts via different communication channels which are appropriate for our intended audience, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and remembering not to neglect more traditional channels such as email lists if they are used within your community.
- Enriching blog posts linking to or embedding additional media such as slides, videos, full-text articles, research data and podcasts.
What is an event?
For the purposes of promotion, you can work up pretty much anything that is happening, has happened or is going to happen into an event. Opening your fridge can be an event. Although you might want to tie a fridge-opening into your work in some way.
Events can be –
- Publishing a paper in a journal
- Presenting a paper at a conference or workshop
- Attending a conference or workshop
- Discovering some interesting things in your research
- Summarising a conversation that helped with your work
- Reading a good book or article and writing up our thoughts as an informal review/think piece
- Capturing a conversation on Twitter about your research area
A plan can help you to communicate your highlights – from a published paper to a breakthrough research finding, sharing your ideas will –
- Keep you visible
- Help to build up an audience
- Keep you in the conversation with other people who share your interests
- Inspire you by sharing your work with others and, in return, seeing what they are working on
- Improve your communication skills and get you into conversations about your research area
Social Media Planning in 7 Steps…
Step 1 – pre-event preparation
No matter how small the event, pre-event planning is worth doing. I helps you to find a focus and work out not only what you are going to use, but when you are going to use it. Even a short, informal book review can benefit from pre-event planning. Start by alerting people that you have a book you are excited about reading, and let them know ahead of time that you will be blogging your thoughts on that book.
For pre-planning, look at –
- What do people need to know?
- Do you need to make your audience aware of time, date, venue?
- How about maps, pre-event reading links, or any other information in advance?
- Take time to get the details right here and save them so you can re-use them when needed.
Step 2 – pre-event channels
- Identify your media channels – think about where your audience will look for information.
- Blog (everything should start with a blog post even if it is a short one as this will provide the link you will send out so people can see what’s going to happen in more detail).
- Select the channels you will use to alert people about what is going to happen, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Email discussion lists
- Make sure any additional resources, such as an abstract of a paper or research data, are available online so you can link and/or embed them into your blog post.
Step 3 – At the event preparation
Plan in advance which channels will be available during the event itself, and if it is sensible to do any sharing live, during the event. Be wary of taking on too much if you are actually speaking or chairing anything at a conference, for example.
- Preparing for the event – what do you want to share and how?
- Live tweeting?
- Live blogging?
- Live video streaming?
- Who will do what during the event?
- No matter what the scale of the event is, it’s worth considering the options.
Also consider if it’s better to miss out this stage and just do pre-event and post-event publicity. This is a sensible option if you will be otherwise engaged at the event itself – for example if you are giving a presentation or running a workshop, or indeed if the ‘live’ event isn’t suitable (actually reading a book isn’t a sharing event, maybe).
Step 4 – At the event additional preparation for ‘official’ events
- Check what equipment and internet access you will have available during the event.
- If this is in a controlled area (something happening in your own space or a space you ar familiar with), you know will be aware of the advantages and shortcomings.
- If you are going to be in a space that is new and you don’t control, such as a conference or workshop, be sure to speak to both the organisers and the venue about what is available and what is allowed.
- If the event is public, check if it is OK to take photos, record sound and shoot videos, and if you will need any official agreements with other participants. Remember to respect the rules of the event and the requests of others with regard to their own privacy, even if it means abandoning your initial plans.
If your event is something organised and involving other people (such as a conference, workshop etc), check out what the organisers have planned already. They may, for example, have a photographer or someone making videos, or live tweeting. This could create free enrichment for you! Just remember to include links or embed outputs into your blog, tweets, updates when you write them.
Step 5 – During the event
- Having planned in the previous stage what you will be doing, this stage should be simple.
- But it IS live, so be prepared for unexpected things to happen, for last minute changes and to get stuff wrong!
- Live tweeting and blogging is a skill, and it improves with practice.
- Remember to any official tags where available, or agree your own where none are available.
**A word of warning** – if you are speaking or chairing a session, try and get someone else to take over any live social media, or even miss out the ‘live’ part completely. It’s better to do a pre and post event coverage well than try and spread yourself too thinly, get stressed and be unable to focus on the main event.
Step 6 – After the event
- This is all about consolidating the event information.
- Write a summary blog post, even if you did live coverage of the event. The summary should contain links and/or embedded content created around the event by yourself and others.
- Share a link to your blog post via Twitter, Facebook – use every channel that you used when you promoted your pre-event blog post. Handily, you can check on your plan to make sure you don’t miss anything!
- If you don’t have all the things available online that you want to link to, or you discover additional material later on, you can always add it in. The most important thing is to get your summary post out quickly. You can always edit to include new stuff later, or write an additional post that covers extra content.
Step 7 – Tidying up
- Make sure all your outputs are available online, and can be linked to easily.
- Put publications in a repository where possible – always aim to link to your work. Full text is better, but an abstract will do if that is all that is available.
- Put any presentations in Slideshare or something similar.
- Upload photos, podcasts and videos (Flickr and YouTube are popular, but other sites are available).
- If there were other people covering the event as well, check where they have shared content – link to blog posts, and link up on other social media channels where you can.
- Join in the general discussion and buzz around an event if others experienced it too.
Throughout it all, remember this is a conversation – you are not broadcasting, you are sharing. So answer tweets at you, respond to comments, reply to emails on lists. You may adapt your own thoughts and techniques and learn new skills – which is, of course, another event you can blog about and share….
On the day, we discussed using TweetDeck for managing Twitter as it gives you separate columns for following hashtags, seeing tweets @ you and handling multiple Twitter accounts. Other options similar to TweetDeck are –
We also discussed general advice on blogging, so the following resources might be useful for more information on blogging in an academic/research context –
We talked briefly about Creative Commons and how CC licenses can help you manage the rights of your content online. More here – http://creativecommons.org/
I also mentioned the lists of top academic tweeters by subject, created by the LSE. The lists can be found here – http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2011/09/02/academic-tweeters-your-suggestions-in-full/
I’ve tried to cover not only the planning itself but the other things I mentioned both in the presentation and to people I spoke to individually on the day. If there is something you are interested in that I haven’t included here, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add information and links.