When social media networks were quickly gaining popularity amongst young people, parents would warn, “You can’t believe everything you read online.” Nearly two decades later, the roles are reversed.
By the time those parents figured out how to make a Facebook account, or find their child’s fInsta (fake Instagram account), the next generation of media-savvy users had already broken all the rules, switched platforms and left the mainstream social media landscape in ruins. Meanwhile, the next generation is on to the next platform producing their own high-end content, leaving CEOs and marketing executives confused about the last decade of social media planning.
Here’s the good news: Just because the platforms and vocabulary change doesn’t mean everything you’ve learned is for naught.
Emma Gaddy is the Digital Content Specialist at the University of Mississippi where she has spent the last four years producing content for social media. She says you don’t have to be an expert at Twitch or Tik Tok to understand social media.
“The ins and outs of each platform are different, but I think with learning how you want to present yourself as a whole, you can better hone in on how you want to present yourself on each platform,” Gaddy says. “In higher ed., we have a whole brand we’re working out of here, but that brand operates differently on each platform. It’s a little bit of understanding how we want the public to see us, and how we can communicate that on each of our platforms.”
In fact, she said with the increasing trend of social media platform churn, her team finds themselves using platform as a demographic datapoint and audience predictor.
“For us in higher ed, we have to keep a presence on all of these platforms that we utilize regardless because not only are we trying to reach the students, we’re reaching parents, we’re reaching alumni, we’re reaching grandparents,” Gaddy says. “We have such a broad audience that we can’t really move on from where we share information. Granted, the content we put on Instagram is not always the content we’re going to be on Facebook, but we make sure each of those audiences get the information.”
Emma has been helping establish a social media presence for the elementary school her mom works for. The first thing she did was establish a look and tone, which mostly had to do with limiting fonts, colors and photo styles. After that, she picked a platform. Since most of the parents used Facebook as their primary form of communication in the community, the decision was easy.
That’s what it comes down to: Where is your audience?,” she said. “And understanding how you can best reach them based on where they are getting their information.”
Social media doesn’t have to be difficult, and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. But to do it well, there needs to be a little perspective, a little consistency, and a lot of understanding where you audience is, and what they want from you.