Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It Doesn’t Take a Village: Managing Social Media

Setareh Kamali, MPS, Public Affairs Specialist, Science Writing, Press & Dissemination Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health

Some agencies have the luxury of a village or team managing their social media. You would think with over 450,000 Twitter followers, 78,000 Facebook fans, and 135,247 followers on Google+, that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would have enlisted troops to keep up. However, that is not the case. At NIMH, we’ve made the day-to-day management of social media possible with a one-person operation. Here are a few tips to successfully manage social media when you’re limited in resources and personnel:

Quality, not quantity: There are numerous social media platforms at our disposable, but that doesn’t mean your agency needs to utilize each and every one. Try focusing on two or three platforms that work best to fulfill your agency’s mission and overarching communications goals. Deciding how you want to convey the mission to your audience, whether it’s through images, videos, or text, can help you identify which platforms to use.

Feed the beast: To keep your audience engaged and interested in interacting with your social media pages, aim to push out content almost every day. However, avoid spamming your audience with content! You want to give them the opportunity to view all of your posts. You certainly don’t want to lose any followers due to content overload. On days where your agency does not have original content to share, scope out other agencies with similar missions and share their content.

Utilize free analytics: There are many analytics tools out there that measure the overall success and impact of your social media efforts. If your agency is unable to afford these tools, most social media platforms provide free analytics that give you a general sense of how you’re doing. Analytics can help you develop strategies, support your social media goals, and guide the kind of content you should or shouldn’t post.

Have a back-up: In addition to your lead social media manager, it’s important for at least one other member of the communications office to understand your agency’s social media operations so he or she is prepared to step in when needed. This will ensure smooth transitions in the day-to-day management.

Patience is a virtue: It may not take a village, but it does take time to earn the trust of your audience and build a social media community. NIMH definitely did not cultivate a Twitter following of 450,000 overnight.  Give each platform about a year to grow and develop, track your milestones, and then look back on the year and evaluate what worked well and what your agency can improve upon next year.

NIMH Social Media Screenshots:
NIMH Facebook Page

NIMH Google+ Page

NIMH Twitter Page


  1. This is such an encouraging and helpful post! It's so easy to feel overwhelmed when thinking about how to implement and sustain an effective social media presence. I really appreciate the specific steps AND the reminder that there are still plenty of important things we can do with a small (but thoughtful!) team. Thanks Setareh!

  2. Very nice info shared in the above blog about Social Media Packages. Thank you for sharing such a nice and useful information.


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