Whether we’re ready to admit this or not – social media, with its constantly growing selection of platforms, is truly where we spend most of our online time. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that most companies choose to spend a large portion of their marketing and sales budget online. The proof is in the pudding. A successful social media strategy increases brand awareness and overall sales for products and companies alike. That being said, what can come as a surprise is that, provided your Horizon 2020 project is funded, you’re going to need to start thinking of a social media strategy (and implementing it) for your project as well. There’s a lot to consider when strategizing and implementing social media for Horizon 2020. This guide is the perfect place to start.
Why is social media for Horizon 2020 funded projects so important?
It’s difficult to narrow down all the reasons why you must have a social media strategy. Really. When done right, it can bring great value to your Horizon 2020 project. To make a long story short, let’s look at some of the top reasons your Horizon 2020 project needs a social media strategy:
- Social media activity will help you maximize the impact of your Horizon 2020 project. Briefly, a funded Horizon 2020 project must carry out various dissemination and communication activities that seek to maximize the impact of the research project. We’ve already gone into great lengths on this subject through a dedicated article, (and highly advise to start there if this specific concept needs more attention). With that in mind, a solid social media strategy that clearly extends the story and voice of your research can be a great way to achieve said expectations for dissemination and communication of your project. These, in turn, will help to maximize the impact of your project.
- Your audience is waiting for you there. While you still need to figure out exactly where, your audience is 100% on social media. One of the most important marketing tactics follows that you must begin a conversation with your audience where they already spend their time, rather than expect them to come and meet you where you are (your website, for example). Therefore, kicking off a social media strategy and meeting your audience there is crucial to spread your word and enhance the impact of your project.
- Create a relationship with your audience. Social media is a network through which you can connect with your target audience, answer their questions, provide them with valuable insights, and show them the benefits of your project. This opportunity to formulate and cultivate relationships with your audience is truly invaluable to your project.
- Drive relevant audience to your project’s website. So you’ve taken the time to create a website for your project (if you haven’t, head over to this article to learn exactly why you should). Unfortunately, your website’s reach won’t span farther than your immediate peers unless you find the relevant channels and outlets through which to tell everyone it actually exists. Social media will help you to promote your website and make sure more people are heading to it to learn all about your research project and its potential for impact.
- Increase the audience base with customers who don’t already know about your Horizon 2020 project. All social media platforms are built on the premise of interaction and engagement. Each platform has tools to make this happen easily. Whether it’s through share buttons, groups or communities – social media can help you constantly grow the number of people that know about you and your project, and span further than your immediate circles and communities.
- Establish yourself as an authority in your field of research. You can be truly innovative in your field of research. Your project can be mind-blowingly groundbreaking. But how much of an impact will this serve if no one is there to listen? Your presence on social media, the content you share, the discussions you lead, the questions you answer – all these will show people exactly why they need to follow and engage with your project (and with you).
- Increase the potential to establish more partnerships for your project. With high-quality content and cultivated relationships, your social media followers can quickly transition to more avid supporters and collaborators for your project.
Tips for choosing the correct social media channels
Having established why you need social media for Horizon 2020, it’s time to figure out exactly where it needs to be implemented. Let’s face it – there are easily more social media platforms than we can count on two hands. From the very famous platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to more niche platforms such as Academia.edu and Researchgate – it’d be wrong to assume that you must have a presence in all platforms.
To choose the right channels , consider the following tips and questions:
- Understand the purpose of each social media platform. Doing so will help you decide if said platform is right for your project. For example – Instagram is a visual-sharing platform, while LinkedIn is for professional and business-oriented connections. Clearly, they aren’t attracting the same audience base. Or, provided some individuals are using both of the above platforms, it certainly is not with the same expectations or goals in mind.
- Who is your target audience? Given the specific characteristics of your audience base – you need to know exactly where they are hanging out. So, before you begin to research the various social media platforms that exist, have a very clear picture of who you are targeting. That way, when you do begin to look through your options, it’ll be much easier to sift out the ones that simply are not relevant. Keep in mind, it is certainly possible that you’ll have more than one target audience “persona”, so be sure to clearly identify and understand who you are targeting (so you’ll know where to find them).
- What are your overall goals? A solid social media for Horizon 2020 strategy can help you achieve some very important goals for your research project. Would you like to position your research at the heart of a specific area of interest/scientific discipline/ industry? Would you like to become a leading voice in the ecosystem for which your research is relevant? If your goals are clear, it can be a tremendous step towards knowing where to be active.
- What type of content would you like to communicate to your audience? If your Horizon 2020 project will need to update with long-form articles, for example, it probably won’t make too much sense to rely heavily on Twitter, where post length is very restricting and limited. For the matter of sharing said articles about your project, Academia.edu is an excellent platform that is entirely centered around uploading article-length pieces. Basically, another important step before checking out the possibilities is to think more accurately about what it is you’d like to deliver, and in what format. This will help you to narrow down your options.
Metrics for your social media activity
As a researcher, you can surely agree that creating a research methodology with no guiding metrics for success is not ideal in any way. Well, the same can be said for your social media for Horizon 2020 strategy. Heading out into the social world without any metrics or guiding numbers to work by will have you constantly wondering if your work is amounting to any value. So, what do you want to achieve out of your social media activities? Is your focus on becoming a leading voice in your research field? In the context of academia, would you like to increase exposure, followers and potentially, at some point, gain additional official citations in articles?If you are a company, are you interested in growing the customer base for your product? Gaining valuable partners and investors? Each goal calls for different social media activities. This is why knowing what you want to achieve will help you tailor a strategy that gets you closer to meeting your marks. For example, if you want to position yourself as a leading voice, you’ll have to focus on very insightful and valuable content. Then, you’ll want to track just how far and wide it reaches by noting the number of shares and other engagement metrics it receives. Alternatively, if you want to get more citations – an increase in public exposure through social media can potentially lead to increased awareness about your research (and ultimately more followers and more acknowledgment in general ), which can finally lead to more exposure in the scientific community & more citations.
The do’s of social media strategy
Whatever social media channels you choose, and for whichever purposes or goals, there are some very important guiding rules that can, and should, be applied across all channels. Consider the following “do’s” as you drill down on your social media strategy for your Horizon 2020 project:
- Create a social media calendar. Instead of being tasked with deciding each and every day what content to share, and where – posts can be scheduled over a large span of time. Apart from spontaneous unforeseen updates about your project, there is a lot of information and topics you can choose to share ahead of time. Doing so will not only save you a TON of time, it will also help ensure you’re sticking with your strategy and executing the messages and information you want the audience to learn about.
- Share interesting & valuable content. Social media is flooded with content. Literally. New content is posted and shared every second to the point that we can easily miss out on information that is actually incredibly relevant to us. Knowing this – it is important to ensure that content you share is not only highly valuable and interesting, but also extremely eye-catching. Quality is definitely better than quantity. So – if you catch yourself making more posts, but unsure if the content itself is actually worth the “share” button, simply leave it out.
- Know the best times to post. Not only does your content need to be excellent, it also needs to meet the audience’s eyes at relevant times. For example, sharing a post at 7:00, when most people are still waking up, will most likely mean your post won’t score too many engagement points. But – it isn’t 7:00 everywhere! Where is your target audience located? What time is it by them? Thing is, people take to different social media platforms at different times. Research the best times (days & times during the day) to post on each platform you’re active on. There’s constantly updating metrics on this information (this social media guide is a great example) so you can be sure to be updated all the time.
- Choose a theme for your content. If people start taking to your content, they will surely want to see more of it. If your content has a specific “look” – be it colors, images, type of writing… your audience will make a mental note of that and easily pick it out of the crowd of posts. Therefore, having a unique and specific “theme” to your content off the bat is an important “must-do” in social media strategy.
- Have the same social media handle across all platforms. If your social media strategy is to be executed across more than one social media platform, make sure to have the same handles (AKA social media names) for all channels. This consistency will help your supporting audience follow you wherever you are.
- Customize the content you share to fit the “rules” of each social media platform. No two social media platforms are the same. Keep this in mind as you share your posts away across the various channels. While you can be sharing the same “topics” or “ideas” – each platform has its own rules for what works and what doesn’t. For example – Twitter will only allow you to post up to 280 characters at a time, while Facebook doesn’t have a cap or limit. Instagram is ALL about images and photos. If you don’t give your audience what they are expecting in the specific platform they are on, you’ll lose points and their overall trust or interest very quickly.
Tools to help you manage social media for Horizon 2020
So how can you know if your social media marketing efforts are actually bringing real value to your Horizon 2020 project and its goals? How can you ensure you are most efficient when carrying out your social media strategy? Luckily – there’s a wide selection of platforms that were initiated with the sole purpose of answering the above questions. It can seem silly, more platforms to help you manage other…platforms. But these can really become life-savers in the context of social media. With so many to choose from, consider the following “categories” of platforms that can help you in the process.
- Social media dashboard – Essentially, a social media dashboard connects and syncs with all the social media platforms you are active on. Therefore, it can provide daily, weekly, monthly status reports on your activity in each channel. This way, you can understand what content is working, and where, so if adjustments need to be made in your overall strategy you’ll have a very good indication.
- Social media management – A social media calendar no doubt reduces a lot of the time you’d have spent if you needed to think about your daily social media activity. But, how about being even MORE efficient with your work? That’s exactly what a social media management tool is for. When implemented correctly, it will help you manage multiple social profiles in one place, schedule posts in advance, track analytics across platforms, and the list goes on.
- Content aggregator – Though you’ll prefer most of your content to be curated by you (or your consortium) and specifically about your project – sometimes you’ll just draw a blank with something new to say. Other times – you’ll find that someone else has already said what you intend to, and there is no need to take the time and resources to do it yourself. Since it is important to keep pace with your social media strategy, and not disappear on your already engaged audience, you’ll want to have additional sources of content to share. This way, the weight of creating new and valuable content isn’t entirely resting on your shoulders. Just like the name, content aggregators are platforms that aggregate various types of content from a large selection of channels, news outlets, media profiles, and more. Instead of heading out on an endless search for new content, you can simply customize the content aggregator platform of your choice based on the relevant subjects and topics you need to share in any case.
There you have it. The basics to setting off on your social media strategy for your Horizon 2020 project. As can be understood, this is an immensely important asset of your dissemination and communication strategy that will increase the impact of your project. Now’s the time to set to work, research all the relevant social media platforms you’ll need to be targeting, the type of content that is important for you to share, and a guiding strategy that will oversee all of this. If you have any further questions, or require additional assistance, Enspire Science is here to be your partner and offer management and execution of this important asses of your project.