Communication Services & Information Technology
University of California
Communication Services & Information Technology

Social Media Toolkit

Using social media for university purposes?

You’ve come to the right place. Online communication tools can be difficult to navigate. We’ve put together some resources to help you create a successful and robust social media campaign for your unit.

Before you begin, follow these helpful steps:

  1. Change your thinking: When you think of social media, do you think of wasted time? Losing control? Failure? Opening yourself up to negative comments and opinions? These are all common fears. While social media does require a good degree of transparency and openness, the benefits often outweigh the cons. Think of openness as a positive rather than a negative – there’s no other platform for your clients to feel as engaged and connected to you. You have the perfect chance to make yourself welcoming and approachable. How will your unit prepare for this shift in thinking?
    • Make sure everyone in your unit is on board with this new adventure. Seek help from co-workers in setting up policies and procedures. Know how to respond to negative comments and spam. 
    • Look at examples of similar units and see how they have succeeded with social media. Don’t hesitate to contact other UC ANR units using social media and ask them for suggestions.
    • Allow room for mistakes and give it time. Your unit will make mistakes. Success won’t come overnight, and it may take several attempts to achieve. Be open to errors and leave room for adapting and learning.
    • Understand that the online conversations are going to happen, with or without you. Being present on social media allows you to be a part of the conversation.
    • Need more convincing? Read these articles on why social media is good. 
  2. Identify your objective: What are your goals in having a social media account? What information do you want to share? What action do you want to encourage? How will having this social media account help you achieve these goals?
    • Keep your objectives SMART (simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely)
    • Sample objectives: Being more open and approachable to your clientele, building relationships with community members, creating awareness about your unit or important issues, increasing visitor traffic to your website
    • Click here for more sample objectives
  3. Know your audience: Who should you be communicating with to reach your objective? How or where can you find them (blog, twitter, facebook)?
    • Sample audiences: California farmers, avocado growers, southern California citrus growers, California home-gardeners, etc.
    • If you’re not sure who your audience is or what they are looking for, try practicing listening online. Find some key individuals in the industry and see what they’re talking about online. Find similar organizations and see what they’re saying and how people are responding.
    • Not sure where to find your audience? Read these user stats, or look through this Wikipedia list of all social media platforms and their users.
  4. Determine your resources: What time, skills and tools do you have available to maintain a social media account? Who will be responsible for your social media presence? Will your accounts be handled by an individual or a team of people? How many hours will you allow yourself or your team to dedicate to social media?
    • Think twice about starting a social media account only to hand it over to interns or students to maintain without some structure or oversight. If you do not think you have the time to regularly maintain an account, consider partnering with others who share a similar audience and objectives. This article talks about the benefits and drawbacks of having social media interns.  
    • Once you determine how much time you want to spend on social media, stick to it! It is very easy to get carried away and lose track of time. Remember to stick within your resources. Read more about time management on social media with this article
    • If you’re having a team of people monitor your social media accounts, figure out how to maintain a common voice and message consistency. Make sure everyone is on the same page with your goals and objectives. Consider picking a common voice and having all users adhere to it, or having team members put their initials at the end of their posts to let your followers know who is posting.  
  5. Keep your message consistent: What does your audience already know about you? What do you want them to know about you? What information are they looking for? You already have a website, you’re already communicating with your clients either via mail or email. Your message is already out there. Now you just have to integrate your social media communications. Keeping your message consistent and integrating all of your communications strategies will help you better support your objectives.  
    • But remember social media, unlike other communication forms, allows for listening and building relationships. Think of it as a two-way conversation.
    • Learn more about integrating your communications with this article.
  6. Measure your success: How will you know if you’re being successful with social media? What will you use to measure your success? Will it be based on the number of likes/followers? The number of comments?
    • Pick a measurement that is relevant to your objective. If your objective is to have more people come to your workshops, then your measurement of success could be your number of attendees. If your objective is to create awareness, then your measurement could be the number of likes, followers, re-tweets, or your weekly Facebook reach. Need some ideas? Look at this list of metrics other organizations have used. 
  7. Switch things up: Once you measure your success, make sure you use that data moving forward. Recognize your campaign as an adaptable and flexible plan. Don’t be afraid to change things that aren’t working. And don’t be afraid to experiment with new things – you won’t know if it works until you try it!   

Still confused? Need help? No problem. There are plenty of online resources to guide you through your social media campaign. Some of our favorites include:

When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask. Marissa Palin, UC ANR Marketing Coordinator, is available to help you with any questions or suggestions.

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