Sometimes the toughest thing to do in social media is not to say anything at all.
You know the urges. Someone said something about your school. A dean somewhere opens their Facebook account for the first time in a month, sees the comment and wants something done about it. Or there’s a Twitter conversation that you think would benefit from the school’s perspective, but you haven’t been officially tagged. Should you jump in?
As the defender of your brand on social media, your instincts are usually screaming,
But despite those urges, sometimes the best thing to do is to shut up and listen.
There’s nowhere on social media where the need to hush and listen is more important than on Reddit. That’s a lesson I learned quickly when I came to Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in May 2017.
RIT developed one of the most active collegiate subreddits around over the years (at one time it was listed as the second most trafficked college or university subreddit), and they did it independently of university marketing or public relations initiative. The community was created by alumni and current students and it’s continued to thrive.
In short, they’d gotten along just fine without university officials butting in.
That success though, presents a conundrum—there’s nearly 10,000 pairs of eyeballs that you could be communicating with, but in all likelihood they feel as if they don’t need you. What do you do?
In our case, we decided to:
We calculated that we’ll understand our audience and the student experience better by listening to what they’re saying first, instead of building a content-producing strategy around Reddit. And we view ourselves as guests in the community’s space, so we gain insight through proactive silence. The fact that the RIT brand is not omnipresent in the subreddit gives a layer of authenticity that frankly isn’t present in other forums where users know the brand is either in charge or watching from a branded account.
What’s Our Formula?
Our approach doesn’t work for all platforms, but proactive silence offers a unique opportunity to gain insights from your audiences. Sometimes when you’re dealing with an online community, your best approach is to shut up and listen.
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The post In Social, Sometimes the Best Advice Is to Shut Up and Listen originally appeared on the Campus Sonar Brain Waves blog.