How to Get Started with Social Media

Follow these five steps to get started

1. Review ACC’s social media guidelines and best practices

Social media is easy and inexpensive to use, making it an attractive means of communication. However, it also can damage valued relationships and pose risks to the college’s reputation. Read these Social Media Guidelines & Best Practices before engaging in social media.

2. Prepare a social media plan

Before setting up your social networking site, it’s important to have clear goals and expectations. Answer these questions to get started:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What do you want to accomplish through social media?
  • How do you want your audience to respond?
  • Have you integrated social media into your larger communications plan? Social media should complement your website and other marketing materials.
  • Which social media platform is right for you? Understand the various social networking sites, then decide which one is best suited to your audience and goals.
  • Do you have a plan for monitoring and moderating conversations on your social media page, both positive and negative?

These questions can help you get started; a detailed social media plan will help you formulate your overall approach and involvement with social media.

3. Start an account

Your social networking site should not be tied to an individual’s work e-mail address. It’s recommended that you create an organizational or “functional” e-mail address. You can set up a shared account (e.g. Google group) — to use as your social media account’s primary email address. This creates a central address for your social media and establishes a backup mechanism so that others can access your account as needed. Note that some services require you to create an email account on that service (e.g. Flickr requires an email address).

Additional guidelines for setting up accounts:

  • Seek supervisor approval if you are creating an account that will represent a college office or department.
  • Keep your contact information accurate and up-to-date.
  • Carefully manage password distribution and access to your site.
  • To maximize exposure and participation with your social media site, make it as easy as possible for people to find it when searching online. Suggestions for how to do this:
    • Use Austin Community College in the title of the site, if possible
    • Avoid using only acronyms when naming your site
  • Use the ACC logo and follow branding and logo guidelines.
  • Reply to comments when appropriate, and do so promptly. We recommend that you check for new posts and comments daily.

4. Establish your voice

When many people ask how to “use” social media, they’re often asking what voice or style of writing to adopt. While there is not one universal answer to this question, here are some tips:

  • When in doubt, be yourself. In most instances, informal language is the most effective. Your target audience will more likely interact with your content if it is presented with a casual, personable voice.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Share media such as photos, videos, audio, or even existing relevant articles. The best way to express your thoughts or opinions may involve few words.
  • Be helpful. Often, social media communicators are the new customer service representatives. If you can’t answer a question, apologize and refer the user to someone who can.
  • If appropriate, carry out live discussions. Social media is best used in real time.
  • Try to be consistently responsive. Respond to direct replies and comments with some form of acknowledgement, even if it’s just to say thanks for their ideas. Every bit of feedback is a measure of success for your social media campaign.
  • Your social media voice should exemplify a consistent, discernable personality. While this may be as simple as a change in syntax or as complex as evoking a particular attitude, the essential goal is to create a sort of character that users feel comfortable responding to.
  • Write deliberately and accurately. Just like in the real world, saying what you mean and meaning what you say communicates authenticity. Step one is to get people to listen to you; step two is to ensure they trust your expertise.
  • Respect copyright laws. Always give credit and link to your sources.
  • Refrain from broadcasting private issues and topics.
  • Accept failures graciously. Acknowledging and correcting mistakes promptly will help you maintain rapport with readers and in some cases, strengthen it.
  • Remember that you are speaking to a group, not just a collection of individuals. Adopt a more communal voice that sounds reasonable to the diverse backgrounds that compose that group.
  • Have a sense of humor. Readers skim online, and they’re much more likely to click on or share something that’s amusing.

5. Develop your ACC identity

When you represent ACC on social media, there are certain visual and naming elements that need to be designed and selected for your social platform. Become familiar with ACC’s brand identity, which includes the college’s chosen typefaces, wordmarks, and colors.

As you set up and design your accounts, you may be prompted to upload a profile picture or “avatar.” Some networks, such as Twitter and YouTube, allow you to create custom backgrounds, and adjust colors and other design elements.

Be mindful of how your avatar will be displayed within different social networks. For instance, on the mobile versions of some sites, your avatar may be displayed smaller or different than what you expect.

Consider consulting a graphic designer for help creating an avatar or image that is easily recognizable at different sizes. While many sites limit the file size of image uploads, it’s important that your image have the highest resolution possible. Contact us if you need help creating your social media identity.

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