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Beginner Read

Introduction to Social Media

In 2007, the legendary tech pioneer and futurist Steve Jobs launched the first iPhone with no app store, no Instagram, no YouTube and surprisingly few reasons to check your notifications. But not even he could have predicted the influence that smartphones and, as a by-product, social media would have on the world.

Fast-forward 12 short years and social media has become so ingrained in global communication that it’s often the first port of call for any breaking news, be it cultural, socio-economic, political, personal or quite literally everything in between. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay.

Two people wearing cardboard masks shake hands

The shop window

Let’s define what we mean when we talk about social media and consider which aspects will help your organisation thrive.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a shop window to your organisation or business. It’s your chance to put your best foot forward and create meaningful relationships in three ways: championing your best efforts, developing your narrative and interacting directly with your audience. Here’s what we mean:

Champion your best efforts – Content

In 1996, Bill Gates said three words that forever changed the way businesses used the internet: “content is king”.
Your organisation’s content should be used to support your ethos and offering to your audience and beyond. The types of content that you create should relate to what it is you’re trying to achieve through your digital or social media strategy. For example, if one of your digital goals is to increase website visits, consider how your social media content drives people to your website.

Develop your narrative – Brand awareness

As a creative organisation, what is your story? What do you stand for as an organisation, and how are you communicating that? Is your offline work in synergy with your online persona, and vice-versa?

When you have a clear understanding of who you are, what you are trying to achieve, and what you’re offering that is unique, communicating your story becomes a lot easier. Defining exactly what that is will give you the focus you need and allow you to develop your brand through the content you produce online and offline. There should always be a clear alignment of the two.

Interact with your audience – Engagement

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the key to being great on social media is to be social. Engage with your audience, be conversational, ask questions. Make your audience think and answer the questions they have for you. When you can create content that answers questions and provokes responses that align with your goals and aspirations, you’ve hit the jackpot.

Viewing social media in this way allows you to start thinking about how your organisation can use a mixture of these three key areas in ways that are unique to you. For example, you may want to engage a new audience by creating some attention-grabbing digital content, or perhaps you’re trying to raise awareness around a new event or offering. With the right social media strategy in place, one which plays to the strengths of your organisation, the scope and potential benefits are vast.

What next?

This article has introduced some basic principles of planning a social media strategy, and the considerations you should make when applying it to your organisation. To learn more, you can read one of the articles linked below.

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all arts and cultural organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up to our newsletter below and follow us on Twitter @ace_dcn for the latest updates.

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