Photo by Tatiana Syrikova
In his role as the social media strategist for Tufts University, Mark Daly oversees the school’s flagship and alumni social media channel strategy—with more than 330,000 followers across the combination of channels he manages. In 2022, his content organically reached up to 3.85 million users on various university channels. NISM recently spoke to Daly about the future of social media, what he sees as both scary (and exciting!), and his six top tips for social media management.
Without doubt, there is a lot of uncertainty right now with the world of social media and what its future could look like. From the role of AI to the changes to Twitter (and other platforms, who’ve also undergone significant change recently without the news coverage) to what I think is a growing gap between “social” and “media”, there is a lot of uncertainty on what could happen to social media as we know it.
I think that fact is both scary and exciting at the same time. It’s scary because we as social media professionals get into comfort zones and build our content around the needs and wants of our audiences at any time. But I think it’s also exciting because it allows us to recreate the wheel, whether it is for channels that we have already built up or for new channels that could be added to our repertoire in the future.
For those going into social media for the first time, I encourage them to be open-minded and bring creativity into the role they take over, and to learn what the goals of an organization are as it relates to social media. Bring a new perspective into the role, and evaluate what works well and what could be improved upon (most of this can be done without having a full suite of analytics).
Most brands have multiple social channels and differing audiences on each channel, and the key is to make the user experience for each channel the best it can be. This means having different strategies for different channels. And really anything else you think might be good.
Content is King:
As is the case for any social media platform, content will always be king. Determining what kinds of content work best for your audiences and your fans is what excites me about the future. The world is too digital now for some sort of social media to not exist, and the key will continue to be on how to find ways for brands to exist in the social space. It’s more of an art than a science.
Keep it Light:
In a way, I think social media is supposed to be fun and I think it’s supposed to be entertaining. And both those conditions can be met while still being professional. If your content doesn’t sound exciting to you as the social media professional, it’s not going to sound exciting to your audiences, and they won’t engage with it. While not all content will be “exciting,” and some content will take a more serious tone, there will always be ways to create copy that can still get people to click/engage. And the more people who click/engage, the further reach your posts will have and the better your chance to grow.
Value the Voice:
Your social media channels need to have a life of their own, and they can’t just be a place for you to share content that was created for non-social channels (such as news websites, announcements, etc.). They also need to have their own voice that resonates with social audiences (social media audiences are different than all other audiences).
Clarity is Key:
When it comes to social media, make your content and copy easy to understand, even by those who aren’t directly affiliated with your university. For example, not everyone is going to have a PhD in the field your content is about, but you can still find ways to speak to your audiences so they can understand what the overall message/takeaway should be.
Color it Evergreen:
Once you’ve posted content that has performed really well, find ways to re-run the content. With algorithms dominating the user experience, the more times your audience is clicking on your content, the more likely they are to see more of the content.
Evaluate the Tone:
Social media is just one of many communication tools at your disposal and not everything is meant for social media. I always try to tell people that social media isn’t a billboard (and shouldn’t be treated like one) and that sometimes there are ways to get content in front of people without posting to social media. Just because you have x number of followers on a channel doesn’t mean that x number of followers are going to see your content. When someone comes to you asking you to post to social media, don’t be afraid to evaluate the content against your strategy and what you know about your channels before committing to it.
The Bottom Line?
Find what your audiences care about, and then find ways to deliver that content to your audiences.