Here's hoping you're getting into the stride of fall semester! There are some new folks to this list and some others who are really stepping up the quantity/quality of their accounts' content, which is super exciting. 

I wanted to take the opportunity to put out some reminders on the resources available for social media managers at Virginia Tech, as well as offer a few tips while you're curating your content.

  • Know your platform: I've noted an increased use of infographics in spaces like in-feed Instagram, which doesn't lend itself well to a lot of text on images themselves. Mobile device screens are still on the small side, so your text may be difficult to read and you are less likely to grab users' attention with wordy graphics. Be sure to test your images on all platforms before posting to ensure they're readable and accessible. When in doubt, use an attractive image with minimal text on Instagram and put the pertinent information in the copy section of the post and/or on your Instagram Story. Avoid posting flyers as your images.
  • Make shared content work FOR you: When sharing found content, like something that may be going viral, you should ALWAYS contextualize it for your specific audience. It's tempting to share something just because it's fun, but keep in mind your unit's mission and goals, and use shared content to drive people to your websites and resources. Sharing for the simple sake of sharing isn't strategic and should be avoided. You should also never share content that has no relevance or connection to your Virginia Tech unit.
  • Avoid university issues management (1/2): While it may be fun to hop on some content that seems innocent (cough cough...a bear on campus), put on your Campus Safety hat and think about whether it's something that should be elevated and/or made light of. Centrally, we have serious discussions before sharing things that seem fun at first but could ultimately cause larger issues among our community. For example: When the otter was discovered in the Duck Pond, we made sure to clear the promotion of it with our university spokesperson and talked about the angle of education with wildlife safety. We knew that people would try to find the otter, so we wanted to make sure that they knew not to feed it. It was then shared out thoughtfully with full risk assessment made and approvals acquired. Fairen and I are here to advise if you ever want to capitalize on something like this — we can offer guidance and support!
  • Avoid university issues management (2/2): Know your role in representing Virginia Tech. Do not attempt to answer questions, posts, or messages that are outside your area of expertise. Instead, refer people to official university statements (if applicable) or resources that are available. For example, this week, a person with an unknown affiliation with the university was sending messages to a variety of VT Facebook accounts about a potential issue with one of the residence halls on campus. The central account referred her to the Housing and Residential Life contact information to report the problem, and we advised others who received her message to do the same. When in doubt, refer all questions/concerns received via social media to Fairen and me, and we will make sure to assist with how to manage. If you are not sure if we have issued a statement – just ask! Believe it or not, tweets and posts are often considered official university statements, which is another reason to be extra cautious before replying to anything.
  • Know where the line is between business and personal use of social media: If you missed it, I HIGHLY recommend viewing the training on this we did this summer. This seems to be a growing area of concern, and we want everyone to be good stewards of their digital footprint as to not impact the reputation of the university. I plan to expand this program over the next year, so please let me know if you want this presentation at your next staff meeting!
  • General knowledge: 
    • Visit vt.edu/social-media for the university policy, best practices, and training. This site is getting an update as part of an overall Brand Center refresh, so you may start seeing things moved around a bit in the coming months.
    • Use this group! Ask questions of your peers, share things you've learned, and brag if you've done something you're proud of. Social media management is a bit of a moving target, so we can all learn from one another.
    • Fairen and I are available for 1-on-1 training and consultation, and we can also come to your teams' regular meetings as guests. We have a request form here if you're interested.

— 

Susan Gill
Director of New Media
University Relations | Advancement
Virginia Tech
susan83@vt.edu
540-231-0946 | 540-750-3041