Spotlight on social media

  • February 08, 2017

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat – chances are you’re on at least one of these social media for personal or professional reasons, and have heard of the others.

Our Section and Forum liaisons and our Communications department field numerous requests each year from groups hoping that establishing a social media presence will help them communicate better with members.

There are two things that are true of all forms of social media engagement:

  1. The site has to be a place where people already go or are willing to add to their daily Internet round. There’s no point in setting up a Twitter handle if the bulk of the members you want to speak with aren’t on Twitter. And let’s face it, more than a decade after it was launched, if your members aren’t already on Twitter they’re unlikely to join and become active.
  2. You have to feed the beast regularly. You might get people to go to your Facebook page when you first launch it, out of curiosity, but you’ll only keep them coming back if you continue to post new items that are relevant to them. A social media presence requires an ongoing commitment of time and energy.

So if your Section or Forum wants to establish a social media presence, great. That’s a good instinct, to want to get your message farther and wider than it’s already going. But there are a number of questions you need to consider, discuss amongst yourselves – and answer – before we can go ahead with setting it up for you:

  • What are you hoping to accomplish? Do you want to reach members that aren’t being reached, or maybe to create a new forum for discussion and information sharing? Knowing what you want from social media will help you decide which vehicle is appropriate.
  • How likely is it to work? Have members been clamouring for a Facebook page, or is it an attempt to create engagement? Remember, if your members aren’t already active online, it will be very difficult to get them to create the habit of going to a new site.
  • What will be your hook? What is the thing your members need that they can’t get elsewhere that they will get from this new social media presence? Why would they come in the first place, and why would they return? While nearly everyone is plugged in these days, most people already have their go-to websites, and they don’t have the time – or feel the need – for another. How will you convince them that this is must-see?
  • What is your plan for feeding the beast? The CBA’s social media adviser requires a six-month schedule, in advance, for populating a social media site at regular intervals. You need to know before you start who will be responsible for creating or adding new content, and that person or committee will be accountable for maintaining the site. Inactive sites, or Twitter handles, will be taken down.

The thing to remember is that each form of social media has its own strengths and weaknesses – some are far better suited to certain purposes than others, and they all speak to different audiences.

The three best-known social media sites, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, have different built-in audiences and perceived purposes and it’s important to do your research before choosing what to go with. Knowing your audience is key.

See the CBA Social Media Policy which lays out some of the requirements for establishing a social media presence. There is also a Social Media Policy for Sections and Twitter Best Practices document that your liaison can make available to you.