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Using Social Media: An Overview

November 9, 2012 by Emily Schneider

Relaying information through social media can be tricky and time consuming, but can be highly effective. Communication as well as feedback is instant, and disregards the nine-to-five work day with more and more people plugging in day and night.  Social media is uniquely interactive, with people responding to each other's posts and contacting each other regularly.

To effectively manage different social media accounts, you must first determine what you want to say and to whom you want to say it.

If your target audience demands a constant flow of information or high interactivity, then it might be useful to create a social media team to divide up the work and time commitment. We've found it useful to create a social media checklist to make sure your team is on the same page and putting forward a uniform voice.

Each medium relays information differently, some better than others. Here is a quick guide to information forms for different social media:


  • instantaneous
  • brief bursts of information
  • highly interactive
  • broad audience
  • 140 characters or less
  • easily followable and searchable when hashtags (#) are used
  • moderately sharable
  • highly useful for linking
  • used to pique interest in a linked article/photo or for a brief quip


  • must be visual or contain an intriguing original graphic linking to an article
  • highly sharable
  • moderately interactive
  • easily categorizable
  • niche audience
  • used to save things so that one can come back to re-read them later


  • conversational
  • highly interactive
  • broad or specifically targeted audience with adjustable settings
  • moderately sharable
  • used to create and publicize events through invitations
  • good for brief messages
  • also for sharing links to other sources
  • site security management changes a lot


  • audience must have a smartphone with web access
  • niche audience
  • used mainly for promotions and contests

g+ (Google Plus):

  • still emerging as a new social media tool
  • low interactivity when not using the hangout feature
  • broad or niche audience
  • moderately sharable
  • currently most used for the hangout feature, allowing up to 10 people to participate in a video conference as well as allowing more users to watch but not participate
  • can be used for streaming events or lectures from across the globe


  • original video content
  • broad audience
  • highly sharable
  • low interactivity
  • used to share video content

Blogging/web features:

  • of variable length: can be longer articles which other social media can link to
  • tailors to broad or niche audience
  • can be used to link externally as well

Remember, social media is casual and social, so don't be afraid to sound human. Adding a voice and a personality to your account will promote sharing and help you to attain more followers, broadening your audience. If posts are too generic or formal, they could be mistakenly read as spam or glossed over. 

Once you've chosen your message, chosen the correct medium, and tailored it to your audience, you're ready to post! For more social media tips follow Learning and Support Services on:

Twitter - @UWLSS




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