6 Steps to Making our Engagement and Impressions Spike in 2018

One of the most important aspects of digital strategy is reflection.

As many of you know, I spearhead social media at a small Division I university. I’m a one man show – I tweet updates; I create all graphics and templates; I write, shoot, and edit all videos. And my budget is $0. On top of that, I constantly have to explain to mostly uninformed administration why all of this is important.

Last summer (our offseason), I proposed a new social strategy to the department. My goal was simple: Develop a deeper connection to a broader audience.

The proposal yielded mixed reviews. Stubborn administration didn’t quite see the importance of some of my strategy. They saw social entirely as a way to relay information. They were hesitant to use it for anything else. Many great ideas went to waste in that meeting.

Alas. What ideas passed of my 15,000 word plan (which was mostly jotted concepts and fragments) improved numbers across the board. Our engagement rate saw all-time highs and our impressions spiked.

Analytics showed us a few things. First and foremost, information wasn’t the only important aspect of social content. No kidding. Most of our content that was made strictly for entertainment or aesthetic purposes was our most important and influential. Secondly, our audience embraced the change. Third, my strategy invigorated a previously uninspired department.

The amount of student athletes and coaches that approach me and say “You’re the guy who makes all the videos, right? Well what if we did this…” is overwhelming. It still happens on a daily basis.

Our Twitter page alone drew an army of an audience, reaching our 2017 number of impressions in three months less. Our Facebook, which was once dead in the water, was completely rejuvenated. And our Instagram and Snapchat were finally used correctly.

Today, I want to share my strategy with you. My strategy can be broken down into six steps:

  1. A new brand image.
    The importance of brand is huge. You want to find something that your audience can easily scroll through their feed and, in an instant, know that the content belongs to your team. This takes a lot of trial and error, but I think we finally found something over the summer that worked for our strategy.
  2. More video content.
    Video is a great way to be creative and unique, but it’s prioritized on certain social algorithms. While sticking to our brand image, I made simple hype videos for our men’s basketball team before every home game. These videos were some of our most successful content.
  3. Original content.
    Working for an understaffed and overworked department made it easy for us to get lazy with digital content. It was easy to see that our Twitter had become a link dump and our Instagram and Facebook were systematic and robotic. Consistency is key, but there’s a thin line between harmony and monotony. We connected with our audience to develop quality original content. Which brings us to…
  4. Develop a connection with the audience.
    Our audience understood that we were revamping digital efforts. Things like allowing our followers to vote for our Player of the Week award made them feel like they were part of the process. Keep in mind we’re a small school, so much of our social audience is made of college students and student athletes. We found that college kids love to be incorporated into what we do- they love to see their names and faces in our content. Some of our projects still received regular compliments months later.
  5. Content calendar.
    Organization was one of our keys to success. While I come up with strategy and graphic templates, I still rely on five other individuals to carry out my plan. With six content creators in the department, a content calendar was a great way to stay on top of things. Using Google Calendar is a nice, fluid program for multiple users.
  6. Experiment.
    Things we used for the first time in 2016-17:1. Live video
    2. Instagram carousels
    3. Twitter polls
    4. Cinemagraphs
    5. Motion graphics
    6. Custom Snapchat filtersThey all worked to varying degrees of success. While a few of these things are almost antiquated at this point, that just goes to show how fast digital moves. If you don’t stop to look around some time, you might miss it. #

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