Listen and Learn
I find that a common mistake made by people trying to offer a service is that they think they know what their audience wants. I have been guilty of this many times and I’m now taking the steps to listen to my audience first. Same thing applies to student councils and groups, you may have a good idea what your members want, but you should ask them to know for sure.
Since people don’t always want to fill out a survey, there are many other creative ways of getting them to tell you what they want. With Facebook and Twitter it can be as simple as asking a question in your status update, “At this year’s business dinner, would you prefer chicken or fish?” If you have been engaging your network properly you should see many responses. As well, Facebook allows you to create simple polls for voting which you can embed into your fanpage to get most measurable feedback.
One creative way involves a little guerrilla marketing. Say you want to know which event to run – a pub night or a hockey night; just ask your followers. Create a fan page for the pub night and the hockey night, then ask you followers to “Like” whichever page they prefer. The page with the most “Likes” is the event you should run.
Lastly, Google has created a few simple tools to help people listen to the world around them. These tools are Google Reader and Google Alerts. With Google Reader, you can aggregate relevant blogs and articles into one place for efficient reading, while Google Alerts allows you to monitor keys words that are flying around the inter web. Google Alerts will send you an email with a summary of where your key words appear in blogs, news articles, and more. These tools will help you stay abreast of current events so you can deliver the most relevant content to your followers.
Putting it all Together – Your Website
This is where you can get creative and bring all of your social web tools together in one place; your website. One thing I like to tell people is to not try and create their own portal because, believe it or not, they’ll be in direct competition with Facebook, Twitter, and more. What I tell people to do instead is integrate all of these tools into their website so that it’s easy for people to interact with them on any social channel.
Common steps involve, embedding your Facebook page into your website to encourage students to connect with you on Facebook. As well, posting your Twitter feed on your website allows you to update your website and deliver short messages to your followers with little to no effort. You can also embed polls, surveys, and other tools to gain feedback from your followers. Doing this allows for your followers to receive all of your updates whether it’s on your website, Facebook, Twitter, or any other portal you choose.
This brings me to my new favourite tool, the Facebook “Like” button. This button can be embedded on pretty much anything and it takes only 5 minutes to set up. By embedding a “Like” button in the content on your website, you create multiple links between your site and Facebook. This creates an easy way to share content from your website on Facebook
Last point, share everything! Everything you post on your website should be shared through all of your social networks. The more content the better, as long as the quality is there.
After reviewing all of the steps outlined in this post your next move is to create communication strategy that involves all of your social networks. But before you begin, you should ask yourself these three questions,
- What message do you want to communicate to your followers?
- Who will be in charge of these communication channels?
- What ways can you promote and grow your network?
Once you have discovered the answers to these questions you’ll have a base for creating an effective communication strategy. Remember that it doesn’t cost anything to have someone in your network so connect with as many relevant people as you can. The more people you have in your network, the larger your reach, and more students you can get involved.
Get on these channels and play around. You’ll find that trial and error is an effective way to learn how to use these channels. So spend some time on the social web and find out what works for you. Last, but not least, don’t forget to have fun.