Take a deep breath of release. You just did a lot of technical work and came out of it alive. Pat yourself on the back; you deserve it. We now shift gears to a less technical, more front-end set of lessons. We’ll start this off with everybody’s favorite thing right now: Social Media.

This lesson is going to be less about technical learning and more about practice. You already know how to evaluate and install plugins, you’ve set up your RSS feeds and what such. In truth those are things everyone knows how to do, but not everyone knows how to effectively utilize social media and properly integrate it into their website.

Determining a Social Media Strategy

The way that you go about using social media is really something that you need to ask yourself and think hard about. Let’s pretend that we’re implementing a project at a small non-profit. You get there and do an assessment of their current online presence and discover a few things:

  1. They have a website that’s built on WordPress
  2. They have a Twitter which has sent out 5 tweets about a year ago and has been silent since then
  3. They have a Facebook profile that likewise hasn’t seen much activity lately

This kind of thing is fairly common. Orgs and businesses say to themselves, “I gotta get in on that sweet social media!”. I used to work at a restaurant called ‘Big Daddy’s Diner’ that tried to establish some sort of presence online, but it failed for a few reasons.

  1. We made a Facebook profile instead of a page
  2. We didn’t spend time customizing our Facebook or Twitter profiles
  3. We didn’t have a plan for what we wanted to post or how often
  4. We didn’t know whose job it was supposed to be to do all of this

Let’s explore what went wrong at Big Daddy’s Diner and see what we should have done instead

Facebook Profile vs Page

You’ve probably seen FB posts buy businesses before. Yoplait yogurt is an industry succes story of the social media marketing world. What I assumed was that they just created a FB profile of a “person” named Yoplait. As it turns out, this is actually a violation of the Terms Of Service of Facebook. Profiles are for living, breathing, human beings. Pages are for businesses, products, etc. FB is starting to call “Profiles” “Timelines”, because they’re Facebook and like to change everything up all the time. Here is what they say about the difference:

Each person has one account and login information. Each account can have a personal timeline and manage multiple Pages.


Personal Timelines

  • Timelines are for individual, non-commercial use.
  • Timelines represent individual people and must be held under an individual name.
  • You can follow Timelines to see public updates of people you’re interested in but aren’t friends with.

 

Facebook Pages

  • Pages look similar to personal timelines, but they offer unique tools for connecting people to a topic you care about, like a business, brand, organization or celebrity.
  • Pages are managed by admins who have personal timelines. Pages are not separate Facebook accounts and do not have separate login information from your timeline.
  • Pages provide insights to help admins understand how people are interacting with the Page.
  • You can like a Page to see updates in News Feed about brands you care about.

These differences are important in a number of ways. From a technical standpoint, you can’t create like or other social plugins that relate to a FB profile. You have to have an app. For instance, you want to add a like button on your WordPress site that will like your FB page when clicked. You must have that like button linked to a FB page. Additionally, there are several other sharing services that will only work with FB pages.

At Big Daddy’s, we made a profile and thus couldn’t use add a like or share button to our pitiful website. It was also odd for potential followers. They didn’t like the idea of “Friending” a restaurant and having us be able to see their photos and updates and everything.

Spending Time Making It Look Good

Good advice for most things: don’t half-finish anything. Always complete what you started. Neither our Facebook or Twitter had much time put into them to make them look good. When people come to your social media pages, they don’t like being greeted by a cheap looking, half-completed, page.

Facebook has this guide on making your page look good, and here is a guide someone wrote about making the most of your Twitter homescreen.

Plan What You’re Using These Things For

As I said, there was no real plan about what these accounts were for. We just kinda said, “We need a Facebook!” and that was the end of it. No wonder they didn’t go anywhere. This is a problem that you see in a lot of organizations. They know that social media are important, but don’t know what makes them so.  It’s your job to help an organization figure out what it is that they are trying to do and what platform they’re trying to do it on.

This image is a Social Media Publishing Matrix

Great article linked to picture!

The purpose is to get you thinking about what different social media platforms are good for. You must consider the strengths of each different one. The above matrix is by no means exhaustive. There are a few dozen different methods of social sharing that people utilize. Each one of them functions in a different way and thus serves a particular function differently.

Assign a Specific Person or Persons to Manage These

At Big Daddy’s we eventually decided that we would post our daily specials, but the problem was that we didn’t know who’s job it was to post to FB and Twitter. Was it the chef/owners? The first server to get there? How would we do it? If you’ve ever worked in a group of any type, then you know that if you don’t delineate tasks, they won’t get done. When setting up a social media plan with your org, make sure that they understand that this needs to be somebody’s responsibility. It won’t work if they “just post whenever”.

Have a Posting Schedule

All the above issues were capped off with us not knowing how often to post. If your org is serious about this social media thing, then they should expect to post at least once a week. What they post is another discussion, but how often they post should be solidified.

Auto-posting

WordPress and Facebook both have native options for scheduling a pre-composed post. Twitter does not, but there are many clients that allow you to do that and we’ll go over them shortly. It’s just helpful to have a structure in place. If one is so inclined, they can sit down and write and schedule posts for the next several weeks.

Tools for Managing the Tangled Web We Weave

So you’ve got a website that has your blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account. That’s three things. Three different places to write content for. Three different sites to log into. Three different things to worry about. In the words of every infomercial ever, “There’s got to be a better way!” Well there is! We’re smart so we turn to technical solutions for our technical problems.

Web Clients

Hootsuite

hootsuite.com

This is a free program that acts as a dashboard for your social media accounts. It allows you to make and schedule posts on a variety of social media platforms including FB and Twitter. Hootsuite is a very easy to learn web app. They have a series of tutorial videos that make learning it a breeze. It even has a free mobile app!

WordPress Plugins

Check out this article from WPMU. It has a very nice comparison of the most popular WP social plugins.

Jetpack by WordPress.com

jetpack.me

Jetpack is a very well developed plugin by Automattic, the company that runs WordPress.com. There are a lot of features to be found in this plugin and you should definitely explore those for yourself. For the purposes of this lesson, we’ll focus on their publication feature. Publication will connect your WordPress site with your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts so that when you make a blog post on your website, links to it will show up on those other accounts.

Social from MailChimp

mailchimp.com/social-plugin-for-wordpress

This has a “Broadcast” feature similar to Jetpack although it’s not as automated. After publishing a post, you approve what is going to show up on Facebook and Twitter. Some prefer to have that control over what’s going out. It also has a feature to replace your default comment areas with their modified one that allows people to make comments using their FB or Twitter usernames, as well as pulling in comments from the FB posts.

Sharing Options for Users

Whenever you can put the work in the hands of the user, do it. Smart websites build in ways for their users to easily share content. You’ve no doubt seen “like” and “share” and “re-blog” boxes all over the net. These are useful, but there are important things to consider. There are many reasons why you shouldn’t go crazy with the sharing.

There are so many social sharing platforms that you may be tempted to install widgets and plugins that allow you to add share buttons for 20+ different platforms. This may not be a good idea for some of these reasons:

  1. If you make to many share buttons available, your user may get overwhelmed (see image below)
    • Are you really going to lose out on shares if you don’t allow your users to share to Plurk with one click?
  2. The more share methods you add, the more it weighs down your load speed.  Share buttons and widgets are often produced using scripts and make outside requests. This isn’t always an issue, but some, like Facebook social plugins, can really bog your site down
    • To see this in action, try installing the official Facebook plugin Enable a few of the FB sharing options and see how slow your site is because of it
  3. There are aesthetics to consider, and having a ton of sharing buttons splashed all over the place can make your site ugly
    • Just take a look at that share panel

Jetpack

Jetpack has a lot of free features and share buttons are one of them. It allows you to place share buttons on posts and pages.

Socialize

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/socialize/

Very straightforward backend customization. It allows you to add social sharing buttons to the sides, top, or bottom of posts. It also allows you to choose if the sharing buttons show up on the frontpage or if you only want them on single pages.

Customize display Buttons on the right At the bottom of the post

We’re sure you can discover more for yourself. Just Google “Sharing plugins for wordpress” and you’ll find some good stuff. Also, check out the review we linked above.

Homework

You will be designing a social media strategy for a fictional client. To that end you’ll be creating a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, a Hootsuite account, and scheduling posts. Also, adding sharing options.

Create Accounts/Pages

Facebook

You will create a Facebook Page. Follow this guide for help on making one. The page must have a cover photo that’s 851 x 315 pixels, and a profile picture. What you choose to use for images is up to you. If you can make this page relate to your GIIP project then we highly recommend you do so.

If you don’t have a Facebook account, then make one for this assignment. You don’t need to start using Facebook, but you do need to do this stuff to learn about it.

Twitter

Create a Twitter account. Use the same profile picture as you did for the Facebook page.

Hootsuite

Create a Hootsuite account and link up your Twitter and FB page to it.

Schedule Posts

Using Hootsuite, compose two posts that will simultaneously post on Facebook and Twitter. Schedule one to post at 7:30 PM May 16  and the other to post at 6:00 PM May 23. To prove you did this, take a screenshot of your Hootsuite “Publisher” page (example). The posts can be whatever you want, but try and pretend like you’re doing this for your actual org.

Sharing Buttons

Using any one of the plugins detailed above (or one you find yourself), add social sharing buttons to your site. You can add them to whatever pages you want (front page, single posts, pages, etc.).

Submitting

Take a screenshot of you Hootsuite publisher page to prove that scheduled the posts and upload it on Moodle. In the “Notes” part of the submission portal, include a link to your newly created Facebook page as well as your Twitter handle. That second part is very important. If you don’t do it, you will lose points.