Social Media Strategy: Allow for Control

Do you ever stop to think about just why people are so angry at telemarketers? I’ve seen people be worked up into a rage over them. And when they call on their cell phone and not just the land line, the gloves are off at this point.

I think a big part of it has to do with a loss of control of what information reaches them and when. You expect people you know and are expecting calls from to be calling you, but a call from a telemarketer is an unwanted interruption in a medium where you want to control how you interact with it.

So when you are thinking about your social media outreach, take a moment to consider the need for the people you are reaching to control the message. People love control, so why not give it to them? Let’s look at a few examples.

Example: School News Alerts

Parents need information about important things like snow days. This info needs to be timely and accurate, so let’s think about our approach here: where can we get this information out?

  • Email List – Email is quick, easy, and many parents are checking it in the morning. Create a school news alert email list and allow for parents to opt out.
  • SMS and Phone – Automated texts and telephone calls are not easy to miss and are great for parents who are running around in the morning occupied with things other than the internet. If you can allow for your parents to choose between and text and a call, that’s even better.
  • Twitter – Twitter is a good way to reach younger, more tech savvy parents, and if they want to get their news this way, it’s a good idea to provide it to them. Create a school news and alert Twitter account just for this to keep your public-oriented account clean of day to day operation material.

Rather than saying “you’ll get an email” or “we’ll call you”, we’ve created three streams that will have a solution for every parent that gives them the feeling of control over how your information is going to enter their lives. We now fit into a parent’s morning in the way they want us to, and that makes for happy parents.

Example: Alumni News

This one is a little trickier, because we are dealing with a wide range of people and content. The goal of our strategy is to provide various avenues for alumni to stay in touch with the school, so let’s list some possible content avenues.

  • Facebook and Twitter – These are the two classic tools that allow alumni a lot of control over how they get their alumni news. It shows up in their Twitter stream, or Facebook news feed, and are perfect ways to connect with young alumni.
  • Email – Once again, email is a way that a lot of middle-age alumni might want to receive information. Make sure you do it right with an unsubscribe option.
  • Newsletter – Many alumni outreach programs have a newsletter, but they don’t let alumni easily unsubscribe from it in favor of their digital counterparts. Allow alumni to stop getting a paper newsletter, and you’ll offer an even greater degree of control.
  • Alumni Blog – This one is somewhat uncommon, but is a great tool for alumni who take in content via feed readers. These alumni are probably more likely to sit down and read a blog post, as I know many feed readers save up content to sit down and thumb through at a later date.

Now, if I am an alumni at the school with this social media platform strategy, I can pick the way that I want to connect. For me, it would be Twitter, because I like having things I am personally involved with in my personal Twitter stream. I don’t need a newsletter or an email. But that’s just me, for an alum 10 years older than me, he might love the newsletter.

Don’t be Afraid of Repeating Content

One issue that I can see arising is that most of these channels will have the same content. A post on the alumni Facebook page will also be on Twitter and an item in an email digest. However, the idea behind the plan is that our users can control how it comes into their lives, so they are going to pick 1 or 2 of these channels and know that they are getting all the information that they should be getting. This strategy fails to make sense once we have content that is just on Facebook or just in a newsletter.

Let People Know the Choices

Finally, it is futile to provide choices without knowing your target audiences know what the choices are. Communicate them clearly to alumni and let them know where content is. You could have an alumni ignoring your emails and newsletter who would be very engaged on Twitter, or the other way around.

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