Tiffani Stephenson is the Coordinator for Marketing and Assessment at UF RecSports, co-owner of Teach 352 Social and a frequent speaker at industry events. Prior to her current position, Tiffani had overseen the IFAS-wide social media strategy across all internal units and platforms. She assisted Florida’s 67 county extension offices in account creation, training and marketing, as well as analyzed the successes and social performance for more than 300 social media accounts.
Tiffani is also a student at University of Florida, pursuing her graduate degree in Mass Communications with a specialization in Social Media. Her current research focuses on establishing multimedia communications strategies using traditional and social spaces for branding and visibility.
By Tiffani Stephenson
University of Florida Rec Sports, Marketing and Assessment Coordinator
It’s no secret that writing is integral to a scientist’s career; research papers, grant applications and journal articles are commonplace. However in the social media age, writing formats include blogging and tweeting. A social media platform, like Twitter, can be a rather useful networking and research discovery tool that helps spread the word about research, and help scientists engage with the public.
Many times when scientists communicate with the public, they’re dealing with a science-interested, but non-specialist audience. Scientists, then, should challenge themselves to think about the big picture of their research’s implications, considering the ‘so what?’ and ‘why does it matter?’ Providing familiarity with the problem at hand enables people to understand it and recognize how it affects them directly.
Regardless of messages and goals, scientists always need to understand their audience. A researcher wouldn’t talk the same way to a potential funder as they would a local reporter or peer in their field. Knowing whether your followers are peers or a wider cross-section of society is helpful when writing for and engaging with them.
I’ve found that the best scientists with a social media presence do the following four things very well. They:
1. Are simplistic in their messaging.
2. Refrain from using jargon.
3. Are relevant.
4. Know what their audience finds important.
To be successful in social media, scientists need to tailor messages for the people they’re trying to engage. Whether it’s videos, blogs or tweets, two things determine the format in which the scientist chooses to disseminate their messages, a keen understanding of their audience and how that audience uses new information.
Additionally, effective communication means transmitting a message clearly and concisely. So, unless you can provide context from statistics, use fewer of them in your explanations. The more succinct ways one can get the essentials of their message across, the better.
This, in turn, makes it easier for their audience to listen, absorb and act on their message.
Social media empowers everyone to tell his or her story. Users from around the world are following their passions, creating art and curating content. But Influencers find a way to connect with others and attract a following. They create their own influence. Any user can be influential about something, but a true influencer masters a specific topic within their niche, can get people to pay attention, and can get people to act.
A common misconception is that a social media influencer has to also be a celebrity. Not necessarily! An influencer could be a blogger with 500 subscribers. Or, it could be that famous person with a million followers. It could even be campus partners who are advocating for you every chance they get. They’re all influencers because they establish trust with and satisfy an audience. They are exceptional at expressing original thought, as well as creating authentic, credible content. Like a boulder picking up speed as it rolls down hill, an influencer can help tell your, or your brand’s, story by accelerating reach, or increasing the number of people exposed to your brand.
The most effective collaborations occur when both parties have an affinity for each other and audiences that share a common care. The brand brings value to the influencer with exposure opportunities in a campaign, while the brand builds relationships virtually with the influencer’s large and active audience, and hopefully gets those people to perform a desired action, such as downloading a new journal article.
Here’s where to start…
Approaching influencers. Make a list of the top 10 people in a certain industry, tell them why you think they’re amazing and invite them to collaborate on a mini-campaign in the form of tweets, images, or blog posts!
Once the campaign is complete, measure its impact – this can provide a great deal of insight into who to your audience is and where their interests lie.
You can measure impact by creating a strategy. First, goals must be established and aligned with overall business goals. Key performance indicators (KPIs), or actions to track include – but are not limited to – new followers, filled out contact forms, downloads of a PDF file, or online purchases.
Next, you’ll want to identify which social media platforms will be used for the campaign. This should be based on your target market and where they spend most of their time online. For example, if your target market is between the ages of 35 to 54, they are most likely to spend time on Facebook, whereas a target market of 18- to 24-year-olds will spend their time on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. Knowing this information will help you communicate in the right place at the right time to the ideal audience.
Then, track your campaign, starting with a benchmark. This could be “0” if you’re starting a new social media account from scratch, or it could be the number of fans and followers you have at the start of a new campaign.
Finally, find out if your social promotion grew legs by using historical data. You can select a period of time, often referring to daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly, and take note of any differences in your social media goals and the actions you outlined in the beginning. For example, if your goal was to increase post engagement on Facebook, look at each of your posts from that selected period of time and see which received the most number of likes, comments and shares and the least negative feedback. This information can help you create similar posts that you’re audience is interested in seeing. If you’re seeing growth, or a positive difference over your designated period of time, you’re doing well!
Don’t get discouraged if you’re seeing stagnation or a negative difference over time. That’s your indicator to return to the drawing board and make some changes to your strategy. This way your research and initiatives can reach the audience it deserves.
University of Florida Rec Sports