How many clicks does it take to achieve success in a social media campaign? When it comes to creating a social media campaign across one or more social platforms, you first need to define your goals and set up the metrics you will use to interpret the progress on those goals. In this case, the right metric analyzing tools will count all those clicks for you.

But before you begin determining which metric tools will be most useful in your assessment of your goals, you should decide how your brand voice should sound. What information do you want to convey to prospective students and current students? Your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ feeds may revolve around the same basic content but the brand voice may fluctuate slightly depending on the platform.

Why? Audiences’ expectations vary from one social media platform to another. The very style and structure of your sentences need to fit in with each specific platform. Writing social media content is challenging in a subtle way. Although you want your brand voice to fit in with each platform’s idiosyncratic feed style, you also have the challenge of making sure the content you post is set apart from the rest of the feed just enough that it doesn’t disappear into the quickly moving social media landscape.

Facebook might be your institution’s masthead, meant to be taken seriously, but she still knows how to have some fun. She will feed your followers all the important details without cluttering up your followers’ feed.

Twitter might be your slightly sarcastic and yet chatty, communications director, who feels the need to touch base with everyone and keep everyone up to date with a stream-of-consciousness feed that is filled with multiple tweets and retweets, not too different than the singsong chirping of a bird. A tweet comes in frequent but short chirps.

LinkedIn is where formal introductions are made between prospective students curious about your faculty and alumni who want to stay up to date on their alma mater as well as people they knew from your institution. LinkedIn is a tool for your human resource staff to post information on new faculty searches and it can draw interest from potential new students as well as potential new faculty when it is used to highlight the successes of the institution.

Knowing your brand, the platform styles, your audience, and what content you need to be providing is important to set up before your first post or tweet.

Next comes content development and curation. It might seem counterintuitive to schedule social media posts. Social media is about the now. However, it is also about establishing brand, establishing connections and relationships with stakeholders, cultivating trust and transparency with your current followers (students, faculty, and staff), and introducing potential new followers (prospective students and their families as well as prospective new faculty). That is a tall order to fill for just one tool of communication.

So, although you need to be fluid in conversing about the immediate messages and stories of the now, you also want to build on some long-term goals of recruitment and retention. Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are team assets to social media. This is where content development and curation enter into the strategy. Some social media content can be centered, even if loosely, around keywords (supported by the analysis of the metrics) that are targeted to bring the right kind of traffic to your website, not just your social media platforms. There are prospective students who are interested in what you have to offer them but they need to hear about you first.

Creating a content repository calendar can be an efficient way of storing original content. All the posts, the media, the links, the platforms, and the targeted keywords are incubated until ready to hatch. Creating individual scheduling calendars for each social media platform helps manage the organizational strategy of the content repository calendar.

Once you start posting from a scheduling calendar, you can start measuring all those clicks. What is the conversation rate? Evaluate the Facebook comments and the Twitter replies. What is the amplification rate? Evaluate your Facebook shares and how many of your current students or faculty are getting behind your current hashtag campaign on Twitter. What is the applause rate? Evaluate how many Twitter favorites and Facebook likes you have garnered.

Then, you adjust posts if needed depending on the metrics and start over again. Social media strategy is a cycle. Counting clicks is just a part of it.

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