Using Social Media for Engagement, Part One: Planning

Continuing from the previous post discussing social media sites operating in an online ecosystem, the next two posts will consider how to use different social media components to increase student engagement. The information is split, so that part one focuses on planning and part two on implementation.


Firstly, explicitly plan the project activity: what to do and how to record it. You should also decide whether you want the escalation and publicity that social media offers, then cut your cloth accordingly. If publicity and sharing is not required, all social sites have privacy settings to restrict access and prevent content from entering the public domain. Some student activities will just take advantage of the communication benefits social media offers. If you do want escalation and publicity (through sharing), you need to engineer the content’s popularity and consider its half-life (how long before the information becomes stale and half as popular).  Early phase: the most important phase. Time spent refining here, will greatly impact the quality of the finished product.

The Conversation Prism version 4, by Brian Solis and JESS3 is presented as a social media reference resource. Available for free download (see the link below).
  1. Complete the activity and record it, using the variety of media you intend to publish with on social sites (students should be producing the content). Words, photos, video, audio, music, design or illustration. Middle phase.

  2. Edit and hone that media into the most succinct and palatable form possible (blog posts 4-500 words), YouTube videos (2 mins), Vine (6.5 seconds), Twitter 140 chars. Middle phase.

  3. Select your social publishing platform or channel, according to content. The following is no ad hoc list, but a summary of tried and tested platforms. They all integrate well with other platforms, have large committed communities, acceptable data practices and are robust long-term performers; making them worth learning how to use (a large reference poster of the ‘Conversation Prism‘ is available for free download). They represent a carefully curated list of the best in class – unique monthly users are in brackets:


    • VideoYouTube (1,000m), Vimeo (100m).
    • Video (broadcast) – Google Hangouts (350m).
    • Video (microclips) – Vine (40m).
    • AudioSoundcloud (250m).
    • Audio (podcast) – Podomatic & Feedburner.
    • Audio (radio) – Shoutcast.
    • MusicSoundcloud (250m), Next Big Sound.
    • WordsWordPress, Blogger, Tumblr (150m), Google+ Pages, Facebook Pages (1,100m).
    • Words (microblogs) – Twitter (300m), Google+, Diaspora (closed access).
    • DiscussionPinterest (180m), Google+ Communities.
    • Photos500px (10m), Flickr (90m), Instagram (150m), Pinterest (180m).
    • DesignDribbble.
    • ArtBehance.
    • IllustrationCoroflot.
    • EventsGoogle+ Events, Eventbrite.
    • PresentationPrezi, Slideshare. Middle phase.


The platform list is a menu, where you select those media types most suitable to your project. You could theoretically use them all, but unless you’re representing a Fortune 500 company with bottomless pockets, you won’t have the time or resources. Select 2-3 for your pilot project. Middle phase.

  1. Post the event or activity content online, collect statistics, review & continue to report. Some content never becomes stale. Impressive photographs continue to draw traffic irrespective of when they were taken, news & fads have the shortest half-life. Late phase.

  2. Cross-pollinate your channels. If you have good photo, video or audio content of an event, publicise it via other channels; instead of just the platform the content was uploaded to. Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook & Google+ are best at ‘pointing to other locations’. Late phase.


In summary: the project is carefully planned (n.b. the activity, not the technology), content is collected and refined, then uploaded to the most suitable platform. The process is not about ‘putting something on Twitter’, but about devising a media project and then deploying it to an appropriate selection of social media sites.



Next post: Using Social Media for Engagement, Part Two: Implementing.

Previous post: The Online Ecosystem: Balancing Social Media.


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