Cat Herding Made Easy: Unifying Social Across a Large Organization

Cats make great social media fodder, but organizing your social media sites can be akin to the proverbial cat herding.  How can you unify and professionalize individual department social media accounts and provide needed resources across a large organization? While it often sounds like a great idea to launch a social media channel, there are many challenges to doing it well, especially if it is not your full-time job, as is the case for all of our social media (SM) administrators in the College of Health and Human Sciences. I learned from CSU’s social media committee model that a little bit of education, professionalization, and organizational guidance can go a long way!

First, some context: the College of Health and Human Sciences is a large college within Colorado State University including six departments, two schools, and multiple centers and outreach entities with their own social media sites. We have more than 400 faculty and staff, 4,700 students, and 40,000 alumni. Add in our community audiences for the many outreach programs in our college, and you get an idea of the diversity of constituents and communications goals.

Here are the steps we undertook to provide leadership to those wanting to reach their audiences on social.

1. Take Stock – Find out who in your organization has a Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn group, etc. and create a list. We turned our list into a handy online social media directory so that we can keep track, but also to drive our constituents to one place to access this information. Part of this process included deleting inactive pages, renaming pages, and combining other pages into a single group.

2. Create an Email Listserve – After creating a list of all of our college’s SM channels, we created an email listserve including all SM administrators. When CSU’s social media team sends out graphics and content that can be shared across university pages, this makes it easy to hit “forward” and get that institutional content to an even wider audience. For example, this post about the CAM the Ram 25 was distributed to all of us who serve on CSU’s social media committee and I sent it on to our college SM administrators.

facebook post CAM the Ram

The added bonus is that institutional content is high quality and easy-to-post. While not all content is a fit for our college’s diverse audiences, having ready-made content can be a lifesaver for SM administrators who wear many hats. A win-win!

3. Provide Assets – The majority of our SM administrators in the college do not have the luxury of lots of time to spend creating content or assets for their pages. Yet, who wants to follow when a profile picture is blurry, or has a logo cut off? Based on our college’s visual brand, we had a student designer create profile pictures for each one of our departments, schools, and outreach centers. Recently, our student communications assistant extraordinaire Marissa updated those to match our revamped visual brand. Standardizing and professionalizing our visual brand across the college goes a long way toward unifying our diverse entities, from Design and Merchandising to Human Development and Family Studies, to the Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center. Many have also taken us up on our offer to design updated cover art.
profile pic       profile pic

4. Promote Professional Development – CSU offers monthly social media workshops on a variety of topics such as optimizing images, using analytics, translating complicated science to SM posts, etc. I make sure all of our SM administrators are aware of these and encourage them to attend, as well as recommend they follow CSU’s social blog. In addition, our college SM administrators met as a group in August to brainstorm ideas for promoting our channels to incoming freshmen and transfer students at the Ram Welcome orientation activities. Since the vast majority of our SM sites are Facebook groups, we provided tips for Facebook Best Practices including defining voice and content buckets, sizing images, posting links, scheduling posts, tracking basic analytics, and liking and tagging each other’s pages.

So take advantage of all of that great SM knowhow and content at your institution and spread it around – a small investment of time on your part can make a big difference to your presence on social. Corralling cats is easier than you think!