Just like in the high school lunchroom – as famously depicted in the movie Mean Girls – social media users tend to segregate themselves into cliques of like-minded people: Lurkers, Quizzers, Informers, Ultras, Dippers, Ranters, Approval-Seekers, Virgins, Ghosts, Deniers, Changelings, Peacocks, Inquirers, Informants, Helpers, Class Clowns, Go-Getters, Thought Provokers, Entertainers, and more.
As you wander into the social media cafeteria, it can sometimes be challenging just to decide which table you are going to sit at.
But for the social media managers among us, there is only one option, says Nate Moll, Social Media Specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“If you’re thinking of which table to sit at, I would try to move around to all of these,” Nate said Wednesday at the August Social Media Breakfast Madison event at the UW Memorial Union. “That’s what I try to do with our accounts.”
There are many different types of students on campus, he said, and he tries to reach them all through the university’s social channels.
“Your strategy should have the ability to speak to a diverse audience in a variety of ways in order to appeal to all of their needs.”
Nate works with four other people out of an office on Bascom Hill, but they get around campus a lot and are assisted by a campus community of social media enthusiasts – called UW Social – who manage more than 750 accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and more.
“It’s a well oiled machine and it’s really strength in numbers,” he said.
To be successful in social media, he said, “You have to first define the overall brand strategy and then identify how social can bring that to life.”
What we want as marketers is not always what our customers want, he noted, so it is important to find common ground.
Quoting Steve Jobs, he said: “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them,” adding that you have to use social listening to find out what that is.
UW-Madison is a huge, diverse campus, and Nate has to cover every angle, from football games to world-renowned research.
“If we could talk about sunsets at the terrace and Bucky and game days all day long I totally would because, I tell you, our likes and retweets would just be astronomical,” he said. “But that’s not necessarily advancing the university’s brand and its mission. We are also trying to build affinity and share many other things that are going on at the university, so you have to build a balanced approach.”
Some of the campus research – while extremely important – can be a hard sell on Twitter, he noted. In those cases, “You got to cover that broccoli with cheese and make it palatable.”
“It’s amazing how much is going on each and every day. There’s a lot to take in and a lot to manage.”
What is his “secret sauce” for sorting it all out? That’s simple, Nate said, it is talking to people.
“That’s exactly what got us our #1 Twitter ranking in higher ed,” he said. “I would say on our accounts we are 90% conversational and only 10% outbound.”
Every Thursday at 6 p.m., for example, Nate takes his smartphone down to the Union Terrace shooting the scenery and interviewing people on Periscope, using the hashtag #Terracescope.
It’s been very popular, and it was the result of generating an idea, learning a new tool and taking a risk. All an outgrowth of this simple formula: Try, Test, Assess, Improve.
“Just go out and do it,” Nate said. “No amount of research and Mashable reading will ever equal real life experience.”
Written by Bill Hurley, (@billhurleymedia / billhurleymedia.com / beachmaniac.com) Editor, writer, social media strategist, website developer, digital publisher. BillHurleyMail@gmail.com, Bill@smbmad.org.
Video by Geekazine: