Who's in charge here?
Once you have your social media channel established and you have begun to amass a following, you have to maintain it. The first and most important question is: Who is in charge of that maintenance? The person in charge of social media should have the permission (and authority) to speak on behalf of your organization. Encourage your social media manager to join the W&M Social Media Users Group in order to keep up to date on the latest goings-on, both on campus and in the social media world. In addition to a "main" person, make sure at least one other person in your organization has access to your social media accounts as backup. This way, if one person leaves or is out on vacation, you are not left with an abandoned, inaccessible or neglected channel.
Maintenance = 1 hour a month + 15 minutes a day
Social media management does not have to be a full time job (although it certainly can be), but whoever is in charge has to have enough time to set aside to update, monitor, and maintain each channel that you are active on. With one hour a month (or 15 minutes once a week), plus 5 minutes two or three times a day per channel, you can maintain a healthy and active presence.
Use the "big" block of time to plan out content for your channel. Planning can be done weekly or monthly depending on how often you anticipate posting to your channel and what is going on at your organization during that time. You can even pre-compose posts and gather supplementary links, photos or video to save time later when you post the updates. During the 5 minute daily checkups you can post (or schedule) your updates, answer any questions that have come along on the channel, read through the updates from the folks you are following or liking as your organization (possibly queuing up some content for later use), and clean out any spam that may have accumulated.
How often and when?
Ultimately "how often" boils down to how much information you have to share and the medium on which you're sharing it. Twitter is better suited to brief "at the moment" posts, and more frequent posting is the norm. Facebook uses more carefully crafted posts that have a bit more longevity. As a very general baseline, try to post 2-4 times a week on Facebook, and once or twice a day on Twitter, but keep in mind your ideal number of posts may vary. If you are covering a weekend event, perhaps posting once or twice a day on Facebook makes sense, or if it's the summer and you know most of your audience is likely to be away from social media, don't fret about posting so often.
Set measurable and realistic goals, for example:
- Attract X new fans or followers before an event
- Get Y comments, retweets or shares on a post
- Increase traffic to your website via social media by Z%
Success will not happen overnight, but if you don't track something, you'll never know how you're doing. Use Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics as a beginning baseline, and if you have the time to dedicate to it, there are dozens of free and paid analytics tools you can utilize as well.
It's not all about the numbers
Always keep in mind that 100 dedicated and engaged users are more valuable than 10,000 indifferent followers. Those 100 engaged users will share your content, and by sharing it they are "endorsing" what you are saying to their friends. These endorsements lend an authenticity to your content that is difficult to achieve on your own, and people trust their friends much more so than a brand. Cultivate and cater to your "core" audience, create interesting and engaging posts that they want to share, and those fans will generate the publicity for you.