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Glittering promises to transform you into a social media powerhouse overnight are scams. Focusing on a long-term method to grow your social media presence, though, is a good idea.

Many groups, including college journalism outlets, are strategizing on the best ways to use social media to expand their brands. I have my own strategy for increasing followers, finding people, increasing hits and helping others, which I use daily at my job as Technology Manager for George Mason University’s Office of Student Media. I’ve made an acrostic for the strategy: MEGA.

MEGA Social Media:

  1. Monitor related topics
  2. Engage the audience
  3. Grow your coverage
  4. Be Active

A surprising number of folks fail to do all of these things. So I figure a bit of expansion might be helpful.

Monitor

The importance of keeping an eye on who is talking about your media outlet, university and the surrounding community cannot be understated.

Benefits:

  • Catch stories in their infancy
  • See what topics are angering or pleasing the student body
  • Find opportunities to engage
  • Discover common interests of the students and staff
  • Find out about events

Methods:

  • Follow students on TwitterFacebook and anywhere else you can find them
  • Track known student blogs
  • Follow university- or community-associated hashtags
  • Keep an active Twitter search on your university and surrounding area
  • Follow your university and area’s name on Lazyfeed
  • Set up Google Alerts and subscribe to Google’s Search and Blog feeds

Engage

All your friends on Twitter or Facebook won’t mean anything if you can’t engage them with your content. You have to talk to them, work with them and relax with them. Otherwise they won’t care about anything you have to say and they won’t click on your links.

Benefits:

  • Engagement shows your users that you care
  • Creating relationships with readers can translate into direct tips
  • Better chance that users will click on your shared links
  • Becoming a member of the community shows that you have a stake in it

Methods:

  • Talk with students and staff on Facebook and Twitter
  • Reply to questions relevant to your community, even those not directed to you
  • Comment on student and staff blogs, but remember to link back
  • Feature student and staff blogs using their trackback links
  • Create or sponsor offline events like Tweetups
  • Show up; don’t forget the “social” part of social media
  • Connect people: when you see potential students visiting the university, point them towards other users with the major the visitors are interested in; they may be your future audience
  • Don’t be afraid to challenge authority or start a reasonable controversy: publicity is publicity
  • Use Follow Friday to highlight students and staff on Twitter each week

Grow

You should be listening to what people are talking about and discovering the needs and interests of your community. This will create opportunities to target specific segments of students and staff and provide them with specialized content.

Benefits:

  • Access to niche groups and unique campus population segments
  • Get known for serving student or campus needs
  • It creates experts on your staff or feeds that can be easily referred to
  • You make your audience happy
  • By creating content in response to engagement you reward contributors to the conversation and encourage future connections

Methods:

  • Create topic-specific Twitter feeds that aggregate specific flavors of content. A few examples: a sports feed manned by your sports editor; a news feed for the town your campus is in; a local job feed for recent graduates
  • Provide separate RSS feeds for popular sections or topics
  • Create hashtags
  • Provide a Twitter feed just for alerts so students can subscribe with their phones
  • Create features such as dining guides
  • Create a Twitter directory or list of students and staff

Be Active

This one is simple. Continue to update your feeds and content. The Internet and its users have short memories. You need to constantly be posting and promoting content. Promote outside content to become a valuable source of relevant information; this ranges from student blogs to an article by the city paper about your university.

Benefits:

  • It keeps users interested, and your various presences fresh

Methods:

  • Hook up RSS to Facebook or Twitter using Twitterfeed (You can direct it to shorten links using a bit.ly account and track metrics)
  • Share interesting articles relevant to your university
  • Embrace opportunities to create new content in new ways
  • Don’t grow faster than you can handle
  • Make sure to enrich your Facebook fanpage with multimedia posts
  • Use SocialOomph or HootSuite to schedule tweets. This way you won’t have huge gluts of links with long periods of downtime
  • Use Yahoo Pipes to retweet relevant Twitter posts

Note: This is a repost of my original posting from http://blog.upiu.com. It is posted here in accordance with a Creative Commons licence.

Preview image from Flickr user bunnyhero.
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  1. Steve on Friday 4, 2011

    This is an excellent article that certainly drew my interest, since I publish a local news site and also work at a university where I keep an eye on related internet activity.

    Over the years I’ve slowly collected a number of sources to automatically notify me about online activity related to the University – including many of the techniques you’ve outlined here – but I see a couple of new resources you’ve mentioned that I’ll have to investigate.

    Another place to grab an RSS feed from is via relevant keyword searches on Youtube – ie. your university’s name, abbreviations, etc. I’ve been notified about quite a few very interesting videos that have been posted there over the years.

    Good job! :)

  2. AramZS on Friday 4, 2011

    Thanks Steve! I’m glad to help.

    I actually use a site called PageFlakes which allows you to search a number of video sources at once. It’s very useful.

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