#MIZRFL: Managing Social Media

Sure, I’m on the news editing track here in the J-School, but I’m still trying to figure out exactly what kind of job I want in journalism. After this year, I could see myself doing social media and web work for a living.

I’ve greatly enjoyed managing Relay For Life of Mizzou’s Facebook page and Twitter account this year. I’ve been addicted to social media since I signed up for Facebook my freshman year, and I’ve been Relaying since before Mark Zuckerberg even dreamed of Facebook, so I thought this would be a pretty easy task. However, it turned out to require more work and thought — but also be more fun — than I had anticipated.

Relay hasn’t had the strongest track record when it comes to social media. Only about 200 people liked the Facebook page and maybe 300 people followed the Twitter account when I first started posting in September.

I knew a key would be to first boost visibility — what’s the point of posting a message if no one sees it? I started following steering committee members, other Relay For Life events (especially those at other universities), American Cancer Society subsets, MU student organizations and health news outlets on Twitter. I did the same on Facebook by liking those pages, and I suggested that my friends like Relay For Life of Mizzou on Facebook (and that other SteerCo members do the same. Through that, a social media giveaway we did at the event and the visibility of our regular posts, we’re now up to 423 likes on Facebook and 565 Twitter followers on Twitter (as of the time I wrote this).

Since September or October, I’ve been posting and tweeting about every other day. Some of these posts have dealt with monthly social media initiatives of the American Cancer Society, such as raising awareness of different types of cancer. Others have been shared from other Relay For Life/American Cancer Society social media accounts. Others concern cancer-related issues at MU and in the Columbia community. And, of course, others promote our event.

Posts and tweets with a local focus seem to get the most traffic, though prevention techniques also usually get likes. People especially like photos, videos and the total amount we raised.

Much of this, however, also depends on the time of day this is published. Is it published during usual class time, when many students have a Facebook tab open? Is it published during lunch time, when more people are talking than staring at laptops? Is it published in the morning, when some people might not be up? Is it published before dinnertime, when people are returning from classes for the day? Is it published at night, when people are trying to cram for an exam or write a paper last-minute?

I find articles published later in the day often get a lot of visibility, which leads to more likes, which leads to even increased visibility as the post appears on more live Facebook feeds. But, of course, this is also based on content.

Anyway, managing these social media accounts has made me more interested in social media and its role in journalism, advertising and public relations. I want to keep working with social media in my extracurricular activities, and I’m definitely planning to take Participatory Journalism (a class that works with the Missourian’s social media accounts and analytics) before I graduate.

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