UM-Flint Social Media Strategy: Choosing Channels

If you’ve been following the formalization of UM-Flint’s social media strategy, you may recall that the team in University Relations recently set official social media goals for the university. These goals centered around the growth and engagement of UM-Flint’s online communities. If we continue through the cycle as we’ve outlined it, the next step is “choosing social media channels.”

Given that the university is already engaged on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Foursquare, we’re clearly not choosing channels from scratch. Instead, our decisions concern the channels on which to focus our energy. Which channels offer the greatest potential for building community?

If we were┬ástarting from scratch, this would be the time for research. We’d ask questions like:

  • Who do we want to reach/engage?
  • Where are these people already engaging online?
  • Which channels that will best allow us to connect and engage?

However, because we’re working a little backward, we have the advantage of seeing what’s been successful thus far. Our data tells us that:

  • Facebook is the most successful channel for us in terms of connection and engagement. As of this writing, the UM-Flint Facebook Page has more than 7,400 total likes with a potential reach of over 2 million. Engaging successfully with this audience will increase the likelihood that our content is viewed and shared.
  • With nearly 1,500 followers, the university’s Twitter account has considerable potential. There is some work to be done toward quantifying engagement and reach, but there has been a growth of interaction between followers and the @umflint account, as well as an increase in the use of the #umflint hashtag.
  • And then there’s YouTube. The videos on UM-Flint’s YouTube channel have been viewed nearly 80,000 times. Over half of those views occurred on the YouTube channel itself. The content we post is being consumed on YouTube, not just where we embed videos on the web. We’re not going to get the interaction on YouTube that we get with Facebook or Twitter, but we do need to contribute more content to our channel and give users more good stuff to find.

All of this isn’t to say that we should ignore or abandon other social networks. We will continue to use Flickr for event photos, add tips to Foursquare, and brainstorm ways to utilize new tools as they come along (Google+? Pinterest?). But as we move forward toward the goal of building and engaging communities in measurable ways, we will focus on our biggest assets. With this narrowed focus, we can more strategically develop our messaging and communication (which is our next step, if you’re keeping track).

Alaina Wiens
New Media Communications Specialist