Let’s shake things up.

A couple of months ago I used a perhaps bizarre analogy to explain brand social presences, “we can’t all be red skittles.” Let me explain.


In my previous life we created our Facebook pages by department, in the University environment many do so by school or program. We identify ourselves online from our own point of view, rather than that of the target demographic we aim to engage . Furthermore, for years we have embraced social media in all facets of our organizations because we thought it was the cool thing to do. At the University of Michigan we have a multitude of social presences, some are extremely popular and therefore, delicious red skittles. Others appeal to specific audiences who have organic advocates for their cause, we’ll call them purple, orange or even green. Lastly, there are the yellow skittles. The ones, let’s be honest, some people pick out of the bag for the “circular file” or pass off on friends. These “yellow skittles” lack viable content of interest to many outside of their own organization, or may be associated with a short term project or event. These accounts need the name recognition of a larger brand to help promote their resources and information to a broader demographic. Simply put, they are a hashtag.

Are you a yellow skittle?

Here are #5Things to Ask Yourself BEFORE, or while pursuing social media for your business, institution or organization:

  1. Why do I want to explore social media?
  2. What are my primary objectives; outreach, education, transparency, customer service?
  3. How will I stand out? With billions of people logging into platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram each day, what added value do I have to proved?
  4. Who is my target demographic and where is their social presence strongest?
  5. Where is my competition? Are other organizations like mine actively engaged in social media? What are they doing right…or wrong?

Parting thoughts: don’t be afraid to say no to social, or to partner with a collaborative organization to expand your potential audience and available content. Consider being thematic, rather than branding yourself with a vague acronym. Do you homework, this is college after all!