Information, Technology & Consulting

Student Voices in Technology: Social Media for Businesses

I work as a social media manager, curating social media accounts for two businesses in addition to my own personal accounts. In all honesty, when I got these jobs I was probably not qualified for them. I thought then that maintaining my own social media presence was sufficient training for managing business accounts. After getting the jobs, I realized that social media platforms are entirely different when used as business tools. Making these business’ social media presences successful took time and research.

Here are a few of the steps I took to get these businesses hundreds of followers across several social media platforms.

Finding Followers

I first had to build a follower base for each account I managed. One business is affiliated with Dartmouth, so that made finding followers for Twitter and Instagram easy. I simply followed people who followed other Dartmouth-related accounts: Dartmouth Library, Dartmouth College, Dartmouth Alumni, Thayer School of Engineering, etc. More specifically, I went through Tweets and Instagram posts on these feeds and followed the people who had liked them. I reasoned that if they were willing to follow and like other Dartmouth-related content, they were likely to do the same for my organization. From that point on, my life became a flurry of following people in binges, waiting a few days, and then using a third-party app to unfollow everyone who had not yet followed my accounts back.

Making Connections

In terms of a follower base, LinkedIn and Facebook were a little more difficult to expand. These platforms do not operate on the same premise of following and unfollowing that Instagram and Twitter use—a page cannot follow a person, but a person can follow a page. My best course of action was to market these pages as heavily as possible, and rely on people’s connections to build a strong audience. I turned internally to the organization and asked its members to please follow the pages and like the posts. I used these pages to promote events and share them with friends. The organization even paid to “boost” these posts and events, which basically meant that Facebook or LinkedIn would push that event to more peoples’ newsfeeds.

Pinterest: A New Frontier

Pinterest, the fifth platform I manage accounts for, was my biggest weakness. I did not have a personal Pinterest account at the time that I got my first job as a social media manager, but my new boss thought it was the new frontier in online marketing. The best I could do was try, so I created all kinds of boards to help promote the business and its products. Pinterest, I discovered, is all about finding the right ways to organize the information you want to post. It actually helped divide the business’ products into digestible units of information, and the Pinterest for Business analytics became a great tool in helping me decipher which pins were more successful in getting a click-through to the business’ website.

Lessons in Modern Business

Working as a social media manager is interesting because the learning curve is steep. The massive user base of social media platforms provides a safety cushion to ensure that any risks I take have little to no negative impact on the accounts I managed. Maybe we would lose a couple of followers if they were not interested in the recent posts, but there were always several more willing to take their place. I have learned about promoting pins and posts, pinning Tweets, using business analytics across different platforms, and hunting down audiences who will follow, like, and share my posts. I know the rules and limitations of each platform, which third-party apps are the most helpful in managing different accounts, and how to measure the success of a post given the different needs of each business I work for.

People ask me how I learned all of these tips and tricks about the different platforms, thinking it far more complex than it really is—my learning process has largely comprised of trial, error, and Google searches. My time as a social media manager has been an interesting lesson on the uses and impacts of social media platforms beyond the personal realm. It has given me a greater understanding of what the social media revolution has meant for businesses, and how businesses have had to grow and change in order to keep up.

Elena Alicea ’16 is an anthropology major and psychology minor from Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Dartmouth Subtleties, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Dartmouth for Nepal, and she works for the Neukom DALI Lab and the Web Services Student Content Corps.

Information, Technology & Consulting