Is Our Social Media Working?

Adventures in Social Media #4

This is the fourth and final in a series of posts on lessons learned by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science on use of social media in its Teen Science Cafe program.

What’s Working? And What’s Next?

So far, I think we’re doing pretty well! We have 114 “Likes” on Facebook at the time I wrote this, and the number is increasing steadily. Our teens made numerous posts encouraging people to come to each café, created Event Pages for each specific café, and posted thank-you notes to the speakers and links to the video of the cafés. All of this is great news!

However, our system isn’t perfect. I’ve had to send more reminder emails than I’d like, pushing the teens to post before cafes. We’ve also provided the teens with lots of interesting links about the speaker’s research and the café topic, only to be disappointed that they barely used these resources. Although we’ve encouraged them to make interactive posts like “Like this post if you know what’s in your water” or asking trivia questions, we haven’t seen that kind of post yet. Plus, I have the sneaking suspicion that the five members of the Social Media Committee are not sharing the work equally.

So here’s what we’re going to do from now on: we’re scheduling posts in advance and using the committee break-out time during our monthly meetings to write the posts. When we meet next week, we’re going to open a HootSuite account that’s linked to the Facebook page. Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts across multiple social media platforms, meaning that you can write 10 posts all at once and schedule them to appear at regular intervals leading up to a café. This way, we’ll use our meeting time to plan interesting and interactive posts, go ahead and write them and get them in the queue, and then sit back and let the technology do the work of remembering when to post. I am hopeful that this work-ahead style, combined with greater supervision from me, will eliminate many of our problems with unequal workload and lack of timely posts. If you want to follow along, please “Like” our page at: http://www.facebook.com/TeenScienceCafe!

General Facebook Guidelines:

• Aim for at least three (3) posts per week, and one (1) per day the week leading up to a café
• Mix up the content of your posts: announcements, info on the speaker, info on the topic, trivia questions, polls, contests
• Include cool photos or links in the posts
• Be sure to post a Thank You to the scientist after each café, and think about including a Fun Fact from the talk
• Post photos and video from the café, the sooner the better
• Don’t be afraid to do a direct call to action: “Like this if…” or “Share to win…”
• Research like-minded organizations on Facebook and “Like” them to expand your network. Start with your institution’s page, other teen science organizations, other teen café pages.

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