“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, you just have to take the first step.” - Dr. Wayne Dyer
Starting on social media can be scary, but a little bravery goes a long way. Individuals and organizations are always taking the plunge into the social media world! According to Brandwatch, in 2016, Facebook added 500,000 new users every day; that’s 6 new profiles every second! Before you sign up for an account, here are a few tips from the team at HIV.gov.
Tip #1: Determine Who Your Audience Will Be
Different populations live in different parts of the digital world. Are you looking to reach youth or older adults? African Americans or Latinos? Rural or urban areas? Segmenting your audience will help you to create a page that is specific to your product or service. Ask yourself these questions about your audience before you make a page:
- Who am I trying to reach?
- How are they using social media?
- If I don’t know, how can I find out?
These three simple questions will help you avoid being too broad and confusing to your potential audience.
I had to take the time to learn the target audience. Then, I set up a plan. Learning the audience comes first always. How can you make a difference in someone’s life without knowing who they are?-Jazmyne Stephenson, Digital Media Coordinator, Office of Minority Health Resource Center
Tip #2: Do Your Research
Now that you’ve figured out the audience you want to reach with social media, it’s time to find out more about them. Sites like Pew and Nielsen provide articles and other research data on the behavior of specific populations based on race, ethnicity, age, and other demographics. Data from these and other sites will help to answer questions like:
- What platforms do [insert population] tend to frequent most?
- What age group tends to post on [insert platform]?
- What content is most likely to speak to [insert population]?
Focus groups are also a great way to get more data on your audience. Recruit individuals from your target population through your local networks or organization. Ask participants how often they use social media, what they use it for, and gauge their interest in your content. Finally, a survey is an affordable and easy way to get data about your audience and their social media preferences. SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, and Qualtrics are some free tools for developing and disseminating surveys.
Tip #3: Decide if a Page or Profile Is Right For You
Before signing up for a social media account, it’s important to know the difference between a page and a profile. Let’s use Facebook for example. A Facebook profile is an account created for personal use that you might use to share photos, videos, posts, and other content with family and friends. To view your content, users have to send you a friend request.
A Facebook page is for business/organizational use. Pages allow you the same privileges as profiles but have additional features. Pages allow you to schedule posts, conduct polls, create promotions, purchase ads, and sell products/services. Pages also give you access to analytics on how well your page is performing. Users must ‘like’ your page to view your content. To sign up for a page, you must first have a profile.
Reading the fine print before you sign up is crucial. For example, using a personal profile for business / organizational use, especially if you are selling a product or service, violates Facebook's terms of service. This may also apply to other sites like Twitter or Instagram as well. Knowing these nuances will help to keep your profile or page from being shut down.
Tip #4: Set SMART Objectives for Your Page
Once you’ve decided if a page or a profile is the right choice, you’ll want to develop SMART objectives. SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive. SMART objectives are like pinpoints on a map. They tell us where we need to get to, how long it will take, how much distance we'll need to travel, and whether it’s realistic and achievable to get where we think we want to go. By developing SMART objectives, you’ll set expectations on metrics such as followers, engagement, email sign-ups, and other variables. Think about what’s most important to you and work from there.
When starting a new page, have a defined voice and goal for the page beforehand and don’t be discouraged if followers are slow to find you. Followers will pick up as you continue to post content consistent with your defined message.Dina Perry, Social Media Strategist, NIH/NIAID/OCGR
Tip #5: Develop a Strategy
When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Launching a social media page is easy but developing a strategy [PDF, 4.8 MB] is where the real work lies. Individuals and agencies often enter into social media without a plan and rarely see a return on investment (ROI). To combat this, we recommend a few things:
- Conducting social listening
- Building an editorial calendar
- Defining your short- and long-term project goals
To develop and refine our strategy, we meet weekly to discuss new content for our editorial calendar and share information across various local, state, and federal agencies and with the HIV community. This 50-minute meeting enables us to think critically about each move we make and how they relate to our overall communication goals and strategy. We ask ourselves: What is the call-to-action? What do we want others to do as a result of this message?
During this meeting, we often visit past content and brainstorm around our failures and successes before taking on new projects. We also think about ways to create new partnerships and maintain existing ones, because it’s important to think both internally and externally about your strategy. Who can support the work you’re doing? Do you share a common goal with another agency? Is there a weekly, monthly, or quarterly meeting you can attend to share information about your digital efforts? The truth of the matter is that we need others. We can’t do everything by ourselves.
Here are a few resources that talk more about strategy in depth:
- 7 Social Media Template to Save You Hours of Work
- How to Create An Extraordinary Social Media Strategy for 2018
In a world of fancy social media platforms, it's easy to be FOMO'd into the newest tool. HIV.gov Director Miguel Gomez has a quote that I love - "social media is like a free puppy" - it looks great and it's free but it takes a LOT of work.Pavni GuhAroy, Black AIDS Institute
We have so much more to share with you that we couldn’t fit it all in one post! Stop by next week to learn the remaining 5 tips to make your social media page a success! While you’re here, visit our Virtual Office Hours page to get free technical assistance with social media and other digital tools. Sign up for our email alerts to get more digital tips and tricks right to your inbox. See you soon!