Starting a new social media account? Ask yourself these 5 questions first.

July 23, 2019

Social media isn’t just a rising trend anymore; it’s now a part of every strong communication and marketing presence. However, adding social media to your communication strategy doesn’t have to include creating your own accounts on every platform available. Before you decide to create a new account, take a moment to ask yourself the following questions.

What is my objective for this platform?

A strong platform presence requires a strategy, and a strong social media strategy begins with identifying one or more objectives. From here you can decide what content you should share to achieve this objective.

Defining your objectives will also help you define success. For instance, suppose your objective for starting a Twitter account is to communicate important and timely information to your faculty, staff, and students. You can estimate the size of this audience and, after some time, calculate what percentage of your audience you’re reaching with this information.

Who am I trying to reach?

First, if your answer is “everyone,” you might need to take a step back and look at your objectives again. To create a strong platform strategy, you need to define your target audiences.

Are you trying to reach prospective undergraduate students, or are you hoping to communicate with a small but important network of industry leaders? Before getting started on a platform, take a look at the demographics of the platform’s active user base to make sure you’re reaching the right people. The annual platform demographics review from Sprout Social Blog is a good resource for this information.

For example, 75% of all Instagram users are between 18 and 24 years old. Recently, Instagram became the top platform for teenagers, surpassing Snapchat for the first time. Twitter’s largest age demographic is also quite young, with 40% of its active users falling between 18 and 29 years of age. They are more likely to have a college degree and live in an urban area rather than a rural area. Beyond age and location, LinkedIn offers insights into the career level statistics of its users. Currently, 45% of active LinkedIn users are in an upper management position—defined as a position between director and C-suite.

A follow-up question you should ask yourself is, “Why is my audience on this platform?” For instance, LinkedIn users are interested in building their careers by strengthening connections, building industry knowledge, and seeking new opportunities. Make sure your communications objectives align with audience goals as well; otherwise, your content will not provide value.

Can I post as often as needed?

Social media platforms are designed for fast-paced creation and consumption of content. To keep up with the pace of each platform, you’ll need to set aside time to curate, create, and share content. You’ll also need to be sure you check in on posts to answer questions, reply to comments, and measure engagement.

One study, noted in a 2018 article published by Inc., provided the following best practices, calculated through 10 data-driven studies of optimal daily post frequency:

  • Facebook: 1 post 
  • Twitter: 15 Tweets 
  • Pinterest: 11 Pins 
  • LinkedIn: 1 post 
  • Instagram: 1-2 posts 

Twitter has the highest recommended frequency, largely due to the nature of its chronological and fast-paced newsfeed. Additionally, most nonviral tweets receive half of their total interactions within the first 24 minutes of posting; engagement declines as new tweets emerge.

In a recent analysis of University of Minnesota Twitter accounts, only 36% tweeted on a daily or near-daily basis. Another 34% tweeted on a weekly basis. These same accounts were more likely to have a follower base of at least 1,000, while those that posted less frequently typically had a smaller follower base. To build and maintain a strong audience, accounts need to maintain an active presence.

What will I post?

Do you have access to the content needed to keep your presence active? Do you need to create new content to achieve your objectives and reach your audience? We recommend a helpful exercise you can use to ensure you are able to gather and create enough content for your account. For at least two weeks, gather and create the content you would post to your new account. This can help you determine whether this will be a more time-consuming or difficult task than you originally anticipated, or if you’re easily able to keep the account as active as needed.

Is there an existing account that can achieve my objectives and reach my audience more effectively?

A more established account may already be reaching the same audience you’re targeting, and it will likely have a much higher follower count. We always encourage units and departments to speak with college- or campus-level communicators to discuss whether there’s an existing account that you can partner with to share your content and reach your audience without having to start from scratch.

Similarly, if you have an account that you suspect is duplicating efforts to reach an audience with the same content as another University of Minnesota account, consider assessing an account merge or partnership. Recently, we closed the Faculty & Staff social media accounts after an analysis revealed we were duplicating many of the efforts of existing University accounts. Other University communicators have made similar decisions to ensure their social media presence is efficient and effective.

If you would like to meet to discuss social media strategy or talk through the possibility of starting a new social media account, please don’t hesitate to reach out to University Relations through brand@umn.edu.