Laura Rodriguez, a Cal State Fullerton communications alumna, shared tips with students on best practices for building a social media brand – whether for your employer, your business or yourself.
During her senior year at Cal State Fullerton, the Recording Academy / GRAMMYs named El Monte resident Laura Rodriguez as their first social media intern. Six years later, Rodriguez is a senior leader at the globally recognized music organization, helping to lead a more fully inclusive identity rebranding for the Recording Academy and ensuring that the organization’s content is front-and-center for music fans and professionals of every stripe.
While you may not be responsible for live tweeting a globally televised event or rebranding one of the most iconic institutions in a major industry sector, social media strategy is likely significant to your success – whether on the job, in an internship or in building your professional brand.
“When it comes to social media, you’re probably thinking, ‘how do I get the target audience, and how do I get people engaged?’” said Rodriguez at an April 23 event on campus. “So when you’re posting, you’re thinking about the type of content the audience wants to see.”
Building a Cohesive Strategy – Based on Metrics and Your Audience
Rodriguez emphasized that building a comprehensive social media strategy takes time. Gathering data is essential, as is ensuring that the strategy fully reflects all aspects of your organization’s identity.
“You want to make sure you have data backing everything, because you’re presenting the strategy to the executive board and executives in your company,” she told students. “I would highly suggest focusing on engagement, impressions and share of voice for social, and views and website referrals for websites. These are the words I use in meetings or when I’m talking with my analytics team.”
Be sure to keep your strategy in line with your goals. “These might be getting more followers, driving more engagement, more RSVPs for your event,” said Rodriguez. “A main goal of a lot of brands is ensuring that people go to your website rather than other websites. Whenever you set expectations, look at the analytics.”
“And when you have brand that has sub-brands, you want to ensure that your audience knows when they follow one account that there are also aware of the other accounts,”said Rodriguez. This means if your company has a main brand and a philanthropic foundation doing good work in the community, users should be aware of both regardless of which account they follow.
Knowing your audience is paramount, since the best content – and even what platforms you should be on – will be entirely different if you are primarily reaching college students versus mid- to late-career professionals with a six-figure income. How can you find that out? Analytics can help, as can understanding the segments of your market, both from a demographic (hard and fast data) and psychographic (the less-quantifiable information about lifestyles and preferences) standpoint.
Knowing What Platform is Best
Depending on who you’re reaching, your brand might not be best for every platform. For instance, Rodriguez said the Recording Academy doesn’t use Snapchat (at the moment), but that would be a good channel for a youth-oriented publication such as Teen Vogue or Seventeen.
Using the annual GRAMMY Awards as an example, Rodriguez noted what works for each platform. “On Instagram, it is more beautiful photography, backstage, and performance. For Facebook, it is the acceptance speeches, the performances, the interviews, the live stream of the red carpet. For Twitter, it is tweeting every moment.”
“LinkedIn is a super powerful platform that a lot of brands aren’t active on,” she said. “I encourage all of you to be active on it, even on a personal level.”
Still, Rodriguez believes there is some carryover between platforms as to what will be most engaging. “Usually the trends on Twitter will probably be on Instagram, too, so you can cross-pollenate,” she said.
Regardless of your identity, Rodriguez advises to expect challenges – and identify how to overcome them. “You want to know what the challenges are and find the solutions,” she said. “Write down your challenges, like ‘I’m too busy and don’t have time to post,’ and write the solutions, like ‘every day from 12 to 1, I will work on a content calendar for the week.’ If you feel you don’t have enough content, figure out how you’ll get content, such as setting up a photoshoot or going through websites for inspiration.”
Working as a Team to Get Content Published and Promoted
Even in large organizations, social media is often the domain of a relatively small team. For Rodriguez, she works with one supervisor and one colleague to run four brands, each with presences on three platforms.
“Wherever you’re working, you need to understand who’s there and what the workflow is,” said Rodriguez. “If you’re at an event and covering it, is it better to post there live or send it and then your team member can post it? And you have to think about how you will communicate with your team and what workflow is best. Is it through Slack, group texts, Instagram Group or Whatsapp? You want a schedule within your team, so if I’m posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays, someone else is posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, or on the weekend.”
Rodriguez recommends identifying milestones for your brand, as well as relevant observances on the broader calendar, to plan content with your team. “For me, it was to create a calendar of milestones of key moments, such as the anniversary of Prince’s death or when Lauryn Hill won album of the year,” she said as an example. “But also add in other things, like National High Five Day. There’s always something going on every day that can be tied back to the brand you’re working with.” (Check out Days of the Year for some of these events).
Social media strategy and content creation may be hard work, but it is the lifeblood of building a brand and, when done effectively, will ensure that you or your organization resonates with your market.
For more information, you can connect with Rodriguez on her Instagram and Twitter accounts using the @Laura_Messi handle. For more on the Recording Academy, visit them on Twitter at @RecordingAcad or on Instagram at @RecordingAcademy.
Or read more of our articles on the entertainment and hospitality sector.