Social media is a powerful tool you can use to distribute relevant news, communicate with and interact with your followers.
However, social media brings with it a number of challenges. Please review the social media section of this toolkit for policies and guidelines, helpful best practices and tips on managing your social media accounts.
Before You Start a Social Media Account
UC ANR is increasingly using social media to augment traditional marketing tools. Social media plays a vital role in extending information, connecting with stakeholders and colleagues, reaching new audiences, engaging with media and advocacy.
Social media also provides an important way for Extension professionals to “listen” to others, and engage in real-time conversations. Some Extension professionals use social media to identify new collaborations and conduct research. There is real value in being on various social media platforms.
However, leveraging social media effectively requires understanding your goals, having a strategy and a plan, and dedicating time to be present in social spaces. It also requires consistency in posting and engagement. As with any Extension outreach method, be prepared to measure your impacts.
Before starting a social media account — particularly if you’re a County Office or program — consider some of the important questions posed by our colleagues at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension:
- What is the primary goal of this social media account? How will you measure those goals?
- Are there any other social media accounts with which your new account will compete? Is there really a need for this separate account?
- Who is going to manage the account? What happens if and when the selected administrator graduates or leaves the group? What is the succession plan?
- What content will you share? Do you have a strategic plan in place to schedule and create your content?
- How often will you check the account for feedback? Who will be charged with responding to feedback?
- Will your social media account provide valuable content to your followers on a consistent basis? Who will create this content?
- How will you promote the account to gain a following?
At UC ANR, we’d also ask you to consider some other questions:
- Will your social media account be a personal account? Will it be a hybrid account that is personal, but on which you also share professional work? Or will this account be an “official” account for a County Office, a program or another UC ANR group? If it’s the latter, is there an existing account that might be able to share the messages you’d like to communicate?