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by • 15 Jun, 2009 • TechnologyComments (8)9490

Practical advice on developing your presence on social media websites

Social Media websitesOne of my first jobs as a Community Manager for the Museum of National History was to build a presence on existing social media websites. There’s quite some literature available on social media strategy. That helps. I think I developed a strategy that could be the envy of all museums worldwide. (I’ll brag about that when it starts to pay off.)

However, what I noticed is that strategy is only one. There’s also the practical side of becoming active on social media websites. I didn’t read a word about that. I simply used my experience as a user and the small things I did in the past and thought this would work for a large ambitious museum as well.

That proved a learning experience. Looking back on the first month, I can already identify things that I could and should have done better. Therefore I’d like to share my practical experiences with developing a social media presence with you. Please share your experiences as well to avoid others to make our mistakes.

  1. Consider your “username” carefully. On most social networks your username is almost an irrelevant thing you only see in the URL. Nevertheless, it’s good to be consistent. Therefore, use a service like NameChk to see which name is available on the websites you’d like to use. Remember Twitter has a 15-character limit on usernames.
  2. Pick a good standard password. All social networks have different password requirements. Pick a standard password that is at least 8 characters long and combines numbers and letters. Add some capital letters to make the password stronger.
  3. Make sure your logo fits in a square. Websites such as Flickr require a square logo. Make sure you have a square version of your logo in different sizes available when you start making accounts. Your rectangular logo can be used when possible (on Facebook, for instance).
  4. Have different descriptions at hand. I made a document with the description of the museum in different lengths. Twitter has a 160-character limit, LinkedIn a 250-character minimum. Write different descriptions, from one line to some paragraphs, to cover all social networks.
  5. Make sure you have some basic content. Nothing looks sadder than an empty profile page. Therefore, make sure you have some basic content to post. Import your RSS feed where possible. Have some photos at hand to post them. Think about some discussion questions. Post some events.
  6. Link your social media presence. The activity on different social media websites shouldn’t be isolated. Therefore, every time you register a new account, make sure you link to it from the places where you already have an account.
  7. Have some friends you know you can trust. If your page on Facebook only has 4 fans, it doesn’t look trustworthy. Therefore, make sure you have a group of people at hand who will become fan, friend or follower of your page. I don’t know how many is OK, but I notice on Twitter that the more followers we have, the more new followers we get.

Probably there’s much more practical advice on how to start the social media presence of your company or organisation. If you have some, please share it here, so future community managers have an easier job. Thanks in advance!

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  • Thank you, Jasper.
    You’ve covered all the basics. I would add some that have been useful for me to start with “my” museum in Barcelona:
    1. Be a personal user of social networks such as Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook before entering yur museum. Experiment, contribute.
    2. Research what other museums are doing in different platforms. Excellent examples in US and UK mainly
    3. Write for social networks differently from how you do for the”official” website. Avoid direct marketing, be interesting, offer a plus, listen carefully, reply agile.
    4. Start small, start right away
    5. Explain the project to the rest of museum staff, be prepared for some resistance, be motivating, be patient.
    6. Enjoy: there is a whole new world there!!
    http://twitter.com/innova2
    @innova2

  • Thank you, Jasper.
    You’ve covered all the basics. I would add some that have been useful for me to start with “my” museum in Barcelona:
    1. Be a personal user of social networks such as Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook before entering yur museum. Experiment, contribute.
    2. Research what other museums are doing in different platforms. Excellent examples in US and UK mainly
    3. Write for social networks differently from how you do for the”official” website. Avoid direct marketing, be interesting, offer a plus, listen carefully, reply agile.
    4. Start small, start right away
    5. Explain the project to the rest of museum staff, be prepared for some resistance, be motivating, be patient.
    6. Enjoy: there is a whole new world there!!
    http://twitter.com/innova2
    @innova2

  • Thanks for your useful contribution, Conxa. Strong points. From my (limited) experience I especially would like to stress your point 4. Start small.
    From what I’ve noticed, I realise that every social network you join, adds incredibly to the amount of standard daily activities. It takes time to get them in your system.
    And point 6. is my personal favourite. It’s great to have all the positive interaction with my audience through Twitter and other media.
    Thanks again!

  • Jasper, something that might be usefull to keep an eye on all your social media activities, is to create your own dashboard in netvibes (or similar services).

    Furthermore I would add probably the most important one to be succesfull as a community manager, and that is having fun! ;-)

  • Thanks for your comment, Marco. I think it’s important for every job to enjoy it, always. And I do most certainly enjoy my job as Community Manager. It’s a wonderful opportunity.

    I was unaware of netvibes, but I will check it ASAP. Thanks!

  • Hi Jasper,
    Enjoyed reading your post. Very sound advice. One more point I would add is that many businesses spend 80-90% of time/resources building their social media presence but not nearly enough time promoting it. “Build it and they will not come” unless you tell your customers about it, so definitely include links to your social media pages and blogs into your existing media – email, DM, and even business cards.

  • Thanks for your useful contribution, Conxa. Strong points. From my (limited) experience I especially would like to stress your point 4. Start small.
    From what I’ve noticed, I realise that every social network you join, adds incredibly to the amount of standard daily activities. It takes time to get them in your system.
    And point 6. is my personal favourite. It’s great to have all the positive interaction with my audience through Twitter and other media.
    Thanks again!

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