Paid starts the conversation, but organic will keep it going.
Call it nostalgia or maybe just getting older, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how far we’ve come from those early days on Facebook 14 years ago. I remember sitting in my college dorm room as my roommate rushed in, asking if I had signed up for “The Facebook” yet so we could connect with our counterparts at Harvard and other Boston-area institutions. I, of course, had no idea what she was talking about, but by the end of the evening, I was officially part of this new social network.
It’s been a wild ride launching my career in the social media marketing space as these networks launched their own presences, and I’ve always felt like we’ve been in this together, me and Facebook: encountering growing pains, celebrating successes, and learning from mistakes as we forge our paths in this ever-evolving world. I’ve had a front seat all these years, and I still pinch myself that this is my job!
At Carnegie Dartlet, I get to help colleges and universities get social with their target audiences by taking advantage of the extensive data available to craft niche marketing segmentations and capitalizing on an already engaged audience on these social media platforms. All social media campaigns are designed to align with a school’s goals (both online and offline) and shaped through audience development, budget allocations, and measurement for the best social impact.
But advertising dollars are only part of the story. As marketers, we spend months dedicating resources—designers, writers, analysts—as well as actual advertising spend to social media. We A/B test copy; we dip ours toes into new formats and ad placements; we adjust targeting until we get it just right, and then on the last day of a flight’s campaign, we shut down these social media accounts and call it a day, right? Wait…no. Of course not!
However, maintaining these social profiles’ organic presence is often pushed to the back burner as an afterthought or something that someone will get to when they have a free moment. And that “free moment” may not happen for days, weeks, or even months. All the effort, resources, and budget that were so carefully allocated toward your paid ads could easily be erased by forgetting to keep the momentum going.
Have I convinced you yet that if you’re going to be running paid social media campaigns, you need to be developing a game plan to make sure your organic presence does its job in keeping your brand top of mind for your target audience? Here are three ideas on how to make this a reality.
1. Be realistic about your time and resources
If you know you’re only going to have a few times a day to check in on the messages your Facebook page received in the last 24 hours and pull together one post that gets shared to that page, then you want to be strategic about what platforms you use. It’s okay to not have a presence for your school on every platform—look at the data, talk to your current students, and start with just one or two platforms. You can always grow once you have more time and resources. It’s going to be better for everyone if you maintain one really strong social profile than manage five so poorly that no one is using any of them to engage with your school.
2. Outsource your content
Just because you’re the person who posts on social media doesn’t mean you have to be the only one creating content! Hire student interns to help curate content—after all, they were your target audience most recently. Use user-generated content from your community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni to showcase the range of experiences associated with your school. If your college has a dedicated hashtag, this is a great way to find that content. Enlist the help of others on campus by following other departments’ accounts and share relevant content from their pages. Even if you are a team of one, you have an extension of team members available on your campus! Try to post a couple of times a week, but even just once a week will make a huge difference in keeping your audience engaged.
3. Test, test, and test some more
Just like you do with your paid ads, it’s important to test and optimize organic content to see what is resonating the most with your audience. Mix up your content by adding in photos and videos. The data will let you know what types of content work best. And along these lines, don’t be afraid to abandon a platform if you aren’t seeing the results you expected! What platforms work for one large public university in the Midwest might not work for a small private college in the Northeast. By remaining agile, you can adjust as necessary, as our target audiences migrate from one social media platform to the other and back again.
If you’re ready to take your social media campaign to the next level, contact us today!