SOCIAL MEDIA BEST PRACTICES BY PROMISE UZOMA OKORO
A PAPER PRESENTED BY EVANG. PROMISE UZOMA OKORO AT THE 2018 ASSEMBLIES OF GOD NATIONAL MEDIA ORIENTATION HELD FROM 17TH – 20TH APRIL 2018 AT THE EVANGEL HOUSE, NATIONAL HEADQUATERS OF ASSEMBLIES OF GOD NIGERIA ENUGU.
Preamble: “The Church has decades of history in traditional media campaigns using a broadcast approach, ‘pushing’ content out to large audiences”.
“The game has changed with the advent of new media paradigms, especially social media. Social media is the primary way most people on earth engage with media content. It is no longer enough to tell the story you want to tell over traditional media or social media channels, and hope that you will connect with an audience.
“We must learn to shape our strategies and our content to ‘pull’ people into conversations. We need to learn how to connect with audiences that filter and search for the stories they want to hear, based on their interests and desires. This requires a radical re-thinking on our part! We need an approach that can foster deeper connections and make “disciples who make disciples” to saturate a culture.
Definition of Terms: Social Media is the Platform where Information flows faster than the Conventional Media.
According to Merriam Websters: It is forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos)
Social media belongs to the Theory of Mass Communication known as the “Uses and Gratification” Theory.
Uses and gratifications theory (UGT) is an approach to understanding why and how people actively seek out specific media to satisfy specific needs. UGT is an audience-centered approach to understanding mass communication. Diverging from other media effect theories that question “what does media do to people?”, UGT focuses on “what do people do with media?
It assumes that audience members are not passive consumers of media. Rather, the audience has power over their media consumption and assumes an active role in interpreting and integrating media into their own lives. Unlike other theoretical perspectives, UGT holds that audiences are responsible for choosing media to meet their desires and needs to achieve gratification. This theory would then imply that the media compete against other information sources for viewers’ gratification.
Uses and gratifications theory is relevant to social media because of its origins in the communications literature. Social media is a communication mechanism that allows users to communicate with thousands, and perhaps billions, of individuals all over the world (Williams et al., 2012). The basic premise of uses and gratifications theory is that individuals will seek out media among competitors that fulfills their needs and leads to ultimate gratifications .
The Social media is a cool medium because it requires audience participation unlike the Hote Media which tends to force users into swallowing what ever they Encode.
Media scholar Marshall McLuhan created two categories: hot vs. cool media.
Hot media is that which engages one sense completely. It demands little interaction from the user because it ‘spoon-feeds’ the content. Typically the content of hot media is restricted to what the source offers at that specific time. Examples of hot media include radio and film because they engage one sense of the user to an extent that although the user’s attention is focused on the content, their participation is minimal.
Cool media generally uses low-definition media that engages several senses less completely in that it demands a great deal of interaction on the part of the audience. Audiences then participate more because they are required to perceive the gaps in the content themselves.
In trying to break this Topic Down, we shall look at the General Best Practices and the Platforms Best Practices.
General Best Practices
Presence and Maintenance
• Social media accounts must be logged into a minimum of once per day to monitor and respond to posts, comments, mentions, etc.
• Be present and responsive. Having an official social media account requires diligent maintenance and upkeep, including answering users’ questions and monitoring comments. Establishing and then deserting or not regularly checking a social media channel is not allowed at Tufts.
• Frequency of updates varies for each channel. Use an editorial calendar to schedule content creation (and subsequent publication) more efficiently. Don’t hoard content and post it all at once.
• On Twitter, users expect frequent updates. Accountsshould have enough content to post each day. Managers should login each day to check mentions and direct messages.
• People expect less frequent posts from pages on Facebook. Login at least once per day to check on the page and monitor check ins, tags and comments; posting content 3-5 times each week is reasonable.
• Instagram accounts should have enough content to post at least a few times each week. Managers should login each day to like and comment on users’ photos, and monitor comments and tags.
• For a video or photo service like Flickr or YouTube, where content is less likely to be fed en masse into a user’s stream, update according to how much content you have available. If you have a video a day or a video a month, either is fine. If you have no photos for three weeks before receiving 50 from a recent event, feel free to add them all at once.
Measurement and Analytics
• Measurement and analytics are key to assessing your success in social media.
• Software applications such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite can help you organize your use and monitoring of Twitter. Facebook Insights offer a wealth of knowledge, there are a multitude of free Twitter metrics tools available, and Google Alerts can help you track keywords.
• Study the data provided by the respective analytics functions in Facebook (Insights), Twitter (analytics.twitter.com), YouTube (Insights) and Flickr (Stats). There are also free services available for tracking Twitter and Instagram metrics. Determine relevant statistics and track them over time.
• Match analytics information against content and engagement to determine what caused certain results.
• Use this information to better understand your audience and to inform content decisions.
• Be personable and accessible, while keeping in mind the guidelines offered here. Having a personality and a voice will help you build your audience.
• Once you have established your social media presence, cross-promote in your various channels, both online and offline. If you have a brochure or a website, drive people to your social media channels, and vice versa. Just because people are very active with your Twitter account doesn’t mean they don’t need a pamphlet or an updated website.
• Don’t judge your success solely on numbers. While it is tempting to use views, fans or followers as a metric by which to assess your engagement in social media, it is not the ideal measurement. In social media, quality trumps quantity. Every community is different. You may have fewer followers on Twitter, but if you are cultivating a highly engaged community, the number means little.
• Success with building community via social media is not an end result; it is a process. You have to be present and engaged consistently over time, and you have to measure the effectiveness of that engagement over time.
Platform Specific Best Practices
Managers of Facebook pages must be able to check on the page at least once a day and should have enough content to post at least once each week. Each Facebook page should have at least two admins.
• Do not create a personal profile for a university department, organization or office. Profiles are designed for individuals only and users may view inappropriate profiles as misleading. Creating a “personal account for anything other than an individual person” is a violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service and Facebook warns that violators are at risk of “permanently losing access to the account and all of its content.”
• Avoid posting the same status updates on both Facebook and Twitter. Some services and applications allow you to post the exact same text and links to both channels at once. Since Twitter and Facebook are different mediums with different audiences, tone, frequency of posts, and strategy and goals, updates to each should be unique. Visually, these statuses often look incorrect since they may go over Twitter’s character limit or don’t show the link correctly on Facebook. If you want to post the same information on both channels, craft each status so that it makes the most of the style and tools of each platform.
• Pay attention to your insights. Facebook insights offer a lot of information on the people who like your page and what they are interested in. Your job is to understand what the insights mean and use them to create posts that will engage your fans, encourage interaction with the page, and attract new likes.
• Be visually pleasing. Users visiting your page are drawn to visually appealing layouts and posts. Be sure to highlight photos and other visual posts, remember to delete pasted links in status updates, and edit status so they are not too lengthy.
• Let your fans speak. People may sometimes comment on a post or post something on your page’s wall that is critical or negative. Correcting a mistake, apologizing and offering better in the future, or providing information about the event in question is often the best way to let the poster know you have heard them. Unless the post is profane, obscene, harassing or threatening, it is not a best practice to delete it. People may also post something very positive on your page – you can allow these posts on your main timeline to bring extra attention to them.
Twitter encourages frequent updates, engagement and retweeting content. Account managers must be able to login to the account at least once per day and should be able to post often and respond with some immediacy. At least two people in a department should have the password to an official Tufts Twitter account.
• Listen and Respond. Don’t only monitor those tweets that mention your handle directly, but set up a search so you can keep an ear on what is happening when people do not tag you in their tweet. When it’s appropriate, respond or retweet.
• Avoid posting the same status updates on both Twitter and Facebook. Some services and applications allow you to post the exact same text and links to both channels at once. Since Twitter and Facebook are different mediums with different audiences, tone, frequency of posts, strategy and goals, updates to each should be unique. Visually, these statuses often do not look correct since they go over Twitter’s character limit or don’t show the link correctly on Facebook. If you want to post the same information on both channels, craft each status so that it makes the most of the style and tools of each platform.
• Use hashtags and mention other users. Two of the key elements of Twitter is the use of hashtags and the ability to tag other users in your tweets. Hashtags allow users to join a greater conversation, so including one or two relevant hashtags in your tweets will put your tweet in front of more than just your followers. Tagging other accounts in your tweet gives them credit for the material (for example crediting a link to @nytimes) and alerts them that they’ve been mentioned, which may prompt them to retweet or comment on your tweet.
• Pay attention to analytics. Free Twitter metrics are available at analytics.twitter.com. These metrics offer some insight into the reach and popularity of your tweets. Your job is to understand what the metrics mean and use them to create tweets that will engage your fans, encourage retweets and favorites, and attract new followers.
• Follow back. Following back those who follow you is a great relationship builder. Fostering relationships and encouraging interaction is key, so following back relevant, appropriate followers builds goodwill with our audiences.
• Use a client. Clients like TweetDeck have many advantages that make them great tools for managing your Twitter account:
• You can schedule tweets in advance, so even if you cannot check your account continuously, you can schedule appropriate tweets throughout the day.
• Their interfaces allow you to choose various streams to monitor, so you can monitor tweets that mention you, Tufts’ lists, search terms, direct messages, etc.
Instagram is a free photo and video sharing app that allows users to apply digital filters, frames and special effects to their photos and videos. Managers of Instagram accounts should check on the account at least once each day and have enough content to post a few times each week.
• Use hashtags. Like Twitter, Instagram uses tags. Tagging your photos means that more people may see them, since they may be searching that tag. But be careful: too many tags can be seen as spammy.
• Interact with others. Search for photos that may be relevant to your department, office or group. Interact with others by liking and commenting on photos that are relevant to you.
• Tag locations. Tagging the location where the photo was taken gives some context to the image.
• Consider stories. Instagram stories are special photos and videos that are seen by followers for just 24 hours. They appear at the top of the Instagram feed.
Managers of blogs should be able to check on the blog at least once a day and should have enough content to post consistently.
• Make your blog a conversation. Your blog is not the only thoughts on the subject, so raise questions, introduce other ideas and allow people to comment and continue the conversation. Monitor the comments you receive in order to weed out spam and delete any inappropriate submissions.
• Encourage readers to share your posts. Increase traffic to your blog by making it easy for readers to share the content on social media. Most platforms allow sharing plugins so make sure each blog post can be shared on at least Facebook and Twitter. Many blogs also include options for sharing on Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, Digg and Reddit.
• Make friends in the blogosphere. Do a little research and find other blogs that cover similar topics or are authored by similar bloggers. You can subscribe to these blogs so you know when they are posting. Comment and link to their post if they say something you want to reference. You can add these related blogs as well as Tufts blogs to your blogroll, which often appears in the sidebar.
• Own your opinion: Blogs often feature the author’s opinion and it’s ok to share yours. Keep in mind that you are a representative of Tufts, but that the opinions expressed in the blog are yours. If you are expressing a strong opinion, remind your readers that it is your view, not that of the university.
Flickr is an image and video hosting website and online community. Photos can be shared on Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites.
• Share only original photos. Due to copyright issues, you should only post your own original photos to Flickr. You can indicate photos that are copyright protected by including “© PUO.”.
• Tag your photos. Tagging your photos makes it easier for users to find your images in searches. Be sure to include “Tufts” or “Tufts University” tags.
• Provide a title and description for every image posted. It’s important to give context to your photos. Image titles and descriptions are also used as search criteria and making sure to include them will help others find your photos.
YouTube and Vimeo are video hosting/sharing platforms that showcase a variety of user-generated content. Videos can be shared on other social sites or taken from the platforms and embedded directly on a user’s blog or website.
• Don’t use copyrighted material. If your video is set to music, you must use royalty-free music and sound effects. To use a copyrighted piece, you must contact the owner. Most often the owner or publisher will be listed on sheet music or a CD label.
• Use proper credits. If you are creating video content for the university, include a credits slide at the end of all videos with, at minimum, a message that says (c) [year] Tufts University.
• Include “Tufts” in your file names. Including the word “Tufts” in the naming of your raw video file will help enhance your SEO. (e.g. from “StudyAbroadProfile.mov” to “TuftsStudyAbroadProfile.mov”).
• Make your content accessible. Captioning technology has progressed to the point to where it is affordable and straightforward to implement. Read more about how to create captions and subtitles on YouTube.
WhatsApp is a free to download messenger app for smartphones. WhatsApp uses the internet to send messages, images, audio or video. The service is very similar to text messaging services, however, because WhatsApp uses the internet to send messages, the cost of using WhatsApp is significantly less than texting. You can also use Whatsapp on your desktop, simply go to the Whatsapp website and download it to Mac or Windows. It is popular with teenagers because of features like group chatting, voice messages and location sharing.
Growth of WhatsApp
WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, now has 1 billion users worldwide and is the biggest online messenger app on the market. Founded in 2009 by ex-Yahoo employees it started as a small startup and swelled to 250,000 users in just a few months, growing so fast that they had to add a charge for using the service per year to slow the subscription rate down. In 2014, WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook and has seen continued growth, reaching the 1 billion mark in July 2017.
It is popular with teenagers because of features like group chatting, voice messages and location sharing.
To use WhatsApp you need a compatible smartphone or tablet with a sim card, an internet connection, and a phone number. The app uses your phone number as its username, and your account is locked to the phone, although you can transfer your contacts over to new devices. Whatsapp is free to use in Ireland but in Nigeria and other Countries you have to use your Data.
If your phone is roaming, additional mobile data charges may apply.
Whatsapp permits users to create a Group where they can add A Maximum of 256 Users and Directly Communicate with them.
In this present Information Communication and Technology age, if a church is not online, then it is not actually engaging the culture. A church needs to be where people gather and they are online and on social media. Social Media is a valid ministry of the church. Online community can enhance the physical community. “A recent research found out that 72 percent of online adults use Social Media. Every age group continues to experience growth, particularly those over 65 who have tripled their usage in the last four years.
From 13 percent in 2009 to 43 percent this year 2018, Despite the overwhelming trends in social media usage, another research discovered that less than half of all churches are engaged on Facebook. A full 40 percent are not using any social networking tools.
As such people should be transitioned from an online community to a physical one whenever possible, without abandoning the online aspect. Some people can get to church because of illness. Someone may be in a country where the gospel is persecuted . Those and similar groups can continue to engage their church online. Those participants matter to God. They are real people.” “Ideally, church will have an online presence, but will strongly encourage life-on-life interaction where social media enhances rather than excuses community.”
This can be one more tool that we have to introduce people to Jesus Christ and its church. It is not going away anytime soon, so we cannot just ignore it. Instead, we need to learn how to use it for God’s glory.
If not, we will become increasingly irrelevant in a world shaped by the internet.