The Power of Social Contests, Twitter Takeovers and More: Recapping BU’s Fall 2021 Social Media Communicators Meeting
By Dave McDonald, Associate Director of Social Media
Each semester the social media communicators across Boston University’s campuses gather to reconnect, discuss what’s new in the industry, and showcase successful campaigns and innovative ideas. The fall 2021 meeting didn’t skip a beat. This semester’s meeting kicked off with an update on what’s new and upcoming in the industry, followed by insightful presentations from colleagues from BU’s Hariri Institute for Computing and the Department of Alumni Relations. Here’s your rundown on how higher ed professionals can leverage social media to meet their goals:
What’s New on Social:
Our meeting kicked off with a look at some of the new features available or coming soon across social. This includes Instagram Guides, TikTok Spark Ads, Twitter’s “leave conversation” option, and more:
Guides offer an easy way to curate and group key content for your audience. They can work as an extension of a website or blog, and work great for highlighting informative posts from other credible social media accounts. Some popular guides on Instagram we’ve seen are step-by-step instructions, promoting causes and resources, lists of tips and tricks, and events. On the @BostonU page, we’ve transformed a lot of the content on our Back2BU COVID-19 prevention site into a useful guide for our followers to consume.
Creating a guide on your page is simple:
- Go to your Instagram Profile page, tap the “+” icon on the top right of your screen then tap “Guide” on the menu.
- From there you will have three options to choose from: Places, Products, and Posts
- After you select your Guide type you can start choosing what to add to your Guide.
- Once you add your title, select your Cover Photo, and captions for each post included in the Guide, you are ready to publish. Click “Next” in the top right corner of your screen and then tap “Share.”
- Once you tap “Share” your Guide is public to your followers. To access your Guides your followers will click the “Guide” icon on your Instagram’s profile page.
Twitter: Leave Conversations and Remove Follower Options:
According to Social Media Today, this feature is coming soon and will enable users to untag themselves from a discussion and keep them from being mentioned again within that thread. This is a handy new option to avoid the dreaded Twitter pile-ons based on an unrelated Tweet and serves as a great way to reduce spam in your inbox. It is worth noting that this feature should be used sparingly when facing direct criticism from your Twitter followers.
The platform is also coming out with a feature that would enable users to simply remove a follower, which would stop them from seeing your tweets. Similar to the leave conversation option, this can be useful for reducing unwanted noise from Twitter trolls and spam accounts and serves as a great way to distance your account from a follower without the drama of blocking them. However, similar to the leave conversation option, once released, it should be used cautiously when facing direct criticism from your Twitter followers.
TikTok Spark Ads and Stories:
As our team continues to grow our presence on TikTok and experiment with what works best, we look forward to utilizing Spark Ads, TikTok’s newest way to amplify user-generated content that speaks to your brand. Spark Ads enables brands to amplify existing organic videos that fit their campaign objectives such as video views and conversions. Brands can now tap into the plethora of creative, diverse content and connect with the creators who help bring these products and services to life. These ads allow brands to build long-lasting connections that are authentic and rooted in the community.
Following the lead of Snapchat and Instagram, the platform will also be coming out with a stories function. Like its predecessors, TikTok Stories will disappear after 24 hours and would be displayed in a collapsible left-hand side panel in the main feed of the app. There’s no word yet on a “swipe up” option.
Hosting Reddit AMAs and Twitter Takeovers
BU Hariri Institute’s Marketing and Communications specialist, Gina Mantica was next at-bat to brief the group on her department’s success in hosting Reddit Ask Me Anythings (AMAs) and Twitter Takeovers.
With the goal of increasing the institutes’ online presence, she led the effort of creating a Linkedin page, Institute branded zoom backgrounds and hashtag campaign, and more. However, it was her success with Reddit AMAs and Twitter takeovers that really took off with her audience. In her presentation, she highlighted some key tips and tricks to follow for both a successful AMA and a takeover on Twitter.
Tips for Hosting a Successful Reddit AMA:
Identify researchers with communication skills
While the researcher you identify may have a plethora of knowledge, that doesn’t mean they are well versed in communicating over social media. Make sure you check Twitter and other socials to see if they have a well-established presence and that they communicate their thoughts well.
Survey researchers of interests
Once you found the area of expertise you want to expand upon in your AMA, it’s important to identify the PR goal your department has that matches what the researcher will be speaking about. Once you have this set, you can narrow down your search.
This is typically related to the researcher’s expertise. For example: Answering questions on misinformation and helping people understand cybersecurity research.
Schedule the event ahead of time to enable the promotion
Scheduling your AMA ahead of time gives you time to promote the event and builds buzz. It is recommended that you schedule the event via the r/IAmA subreddit.
“Walkthrough” the day of plan with the researcher
In case they’ve never used Reddit before, it’s always best to meet with the researcher to give them an idea of what to expect. It may even benefit them to pull a previous AMA to show them how to best respond to participants and answer questions.
Twitter Takeovers: A peek into the lives of students
With many of the Hariri Institute’s faculty on summer vacation, at conferences, or otherwise occupied with research, their social channels needed engaging content to fill the summertime void. Enter Twitter Takeovers, an opportunity for graduate student fellows to showcase their work and lives as students and practice talking about their research to the general public.
Tips for a successful Twitter Takeover:
Along with a useful Twitter Takeover Guide, she distributed to the group, Gina offered up some handy tips for success.
- 5 posts required minimum, including an introduction and goodbye
Example intro: Hi, my name is XXX and I’m a PhD Candidate in YYY @collegename. I’ll be taking over this account today and sharing my research with you all. Feel free to drop any questions you have for me below!
Example outro: Thank you for tuning in to my takeover, it has been a great discussion! Unfortunately, I’m not able to respond to every comment. Please follow me at @XXX and we can keep the conversation going.
- Must use visuals in the majority of Tweets (photos or videos)
- Must discuss how their research relates to the Hariri Institute’s mission
- Should refrain from using jargon
The Power of Contests on Social:
Nothing says nostalgia like a custom-designed pint glass from your alma mater. Associate Director of Alumni Digital Engagement, Samantha Cohen proved this when she presented the success of the Boston University Alumni Association’s award-winning Pint Glass Appeal. The campaign included two key objectives: to engage with alumni via social media and increase the number of alumni donors to Boston University. This was achieved through four key phases: a design contest, voting, fundraising, and online engagement.
Phase #1: Design Contest
A webpage and a series of social media posts were created and pushed out to promote the design contest and encourage design submissions. With the help of a small $75 dollar paid social budget, the contest website received 275 clicks, resulting in seven submissions. Once Samantha’s team narrowed the designs to the final two, it was time to start the voting process.
Phase #2: Voting:
Using the Instagram Stories poll function and a Facebook post, both organic, the Alumni Association asked their followers to vote on the two final designs. The results were outstanding. The contest received 1,058 responses to the Instagram poll, 195 votes on Facebook in the form of comments, and over 300+, DMs, likes, and shares. Once voting ended, Samantha’s team used Evertrue, a software that matches social media users to users in your alumni database to pull a list of all alumni that participated, which initiated the fundraising process.
Phase #3 Fundraising:
Utilizing the email list generated from Evertrue and a segmented audience, the Alumni Relations team initiated a fundraising campaign with the winning design. Alums were encouraged to donate a minimum amount of money or more to get their custom pint glass. Using both email and a $200 dollar Facebook ad, the team’s fundraising efforts paid off, with the total amount raised from the campaign coming in over $25K! This led to the final phase: Ongoing engagement.
Phase #4: Ongoing engagement:
As the pint glasses arrived at donors’ homes, our Terrier alums were elated to see the winning pint-glass in the flesh, with many taking to social to express their excitement. This offered yet another opportunity for the Alumni Association to engage with its followers and continue to nurture those important donor relationships.
Once all was said and done, the campaign was a big success. It even earned a 2021 CASE Award. Way to go, Samantha and team! #ProudtoBU.
Have you had recent success with your social campaigns? Sound off in the comments below.