7 ideas to boost your social media power today

Target Facebook posts by geography. Tweet for impact. Develop a voice. Communicators from PBS and two medical institutions dish on what makes their social media platforms sparkle.

Editor’s note: This story is taken from Ragan’s distance-learning portal RaganTraining.com. The site contains hundreds of hours of case studies, video presentations, and interactive courses. Learn more about the session.

Your company traces its roots back to its founding in Ghent in 1611. But on Facebook you look like a newbie, because your posts date back only five years.

If you’re trying to tell the history of your organization, post images with dates-and use the timeline to tell your story, says Laura Perry, director of communications for the UCLA School of Nursing.

The school of nursing was founded in 1949 and wanted to emphasize its continuity. “We found some great pictures of milestones through our years,” she says.

In a Ragan Training video titled “30 ideas in 30 minutes,” Perry offers gems of social media advice. She is joined by Kevin Dando, PBS’s digital marketing and communications director, and Matt Wood, social media specialist at the University of Chicago Medicine.

Here are a few more pointers:

1. Target your posts by geography and demographics

Having trouble breaking through the noise? You can target Facebook posts right down to the city level or the age and sex of users, says PBS’s Dando. You have to have more than 5,000 fans to do this, but you can limit posts to people 50 and older or to specific states or cities.

“We can post something that says attention Denver, and only people who live in Denver will see it,” he says.

This clip is excerpted from a Ragan Training video, “30 Ideas in 30 Minutes.”

2. Don’t forget that call to action

Calls to action encourage retweets and, for nonprofits, donations, Perry says. “You should ask people: Retweet this; ‘like’ our page,” she says.

She cites the Union Rescue Mission’s Hope Gardens Family Center in Sylmar, Calif., a facility for women and children that would close if it didn’t raise $2.8 million in two months in 2010.

Every tweet they posted said, “Retweet this; ‘like’ our page,” Perry says. “And guess what. People did,” she adds.

The campaign also drew Hollywood endorsements.

3. Develop a personal voice for each platform

Get rid of that stuffy organizational voice and take a lesson from the Chicago Tribune‘s @ColonelTribune, says the University of Chicago’s Wood. The Trib posts links to news stories in the folksy voice of Col. Robert R. McCormick, the paper’s former owner and publisher.

“Don’t be afraid to add a little personality to it,” Wood says. “I know it’s tempting to want to hide behind third-person corporate-speak, but there are ways you can inject a little fun into the account.”

4. Consider the mobile audience and your content

When PBS tweets in the morning, more than half the people seeing its content are on mobile apps, especially Facebook and Twitter, Dando says. You should not only use responsive design, but also consider the content you post while people are staring at those smartphones on the commuter train.

“We try not to link to videos early in the morning,” he says. “We try to be text friendly and use responsive design.”

5. Tweet for maximum impact

There are 400 million tweets every day, Perry says. Getting noticed can be a challenge.

Tools such as Hoot Suite, TweetDeck, and Buffer are becoming familiar as ways to manage the impact of your tweets, but have you tried Trendsmap? It helps you see what’s trending in a particular area and can help you target by city.

And don’t forget good old trial and error. “When do you get the most retweets and attention?” Perry says. “That’s probably when your audience is listening to you.”

6. Make all your events social media friendly

If you host a live event, stick up posters letting people know what hashtags to use, Dando says. Make sure people can see them when they walk in.

“Send a subtle signal to everyone: ‘Yes, we invite you to be social,'” Dando says.

You can set up “Twitterfalls” on screens in the room, showing live tweets on your hashtag. At PBS, people walk up to the monitors and take pictures-and they’ll tweet those.

7. Squat on your name

Haven’t decided what to do on every social media platform? You’re not alone. But quick: Grab your company and organization’s name on Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, and anything else you can think of.

That way you won’t later discover somebody already claimed your spot, forcing you to post as “UCLASchoolOfNursing1275 or something else like that,” Perry says.

@r_working

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