Getting started

‘Social media’ describes an ever-increasing number of digital platforms, which are used in different ways by different people. Each platform has its own strengths and uses. It can be time-consuming to learn the ins and outs of a social media platform, and even more time-consuming to grow an engaged network of fans and followers on that network.

Before you create a branded account on a social media platform, it’s really important that you’ve done some planning. It’ll help you focus on what’s important.


What purpose will your social media account serve? What function does it provide for you? For your audience? The first thing to do is determine the account’s purpose.

Is it going to be a customer service account, a discussion forum for a community of people, or a platform for your own thought leadership and profile-raising?

If you’re planning to provide University services through social media, have a look at what’s already out there. Is there any overlap? Are there opportunities to collaborate?

If there’s a clear gap, then it’s useful to identify it. Write down exactly what that gap is – an example might be ‘to provide University-wide support and advice to students on placements’. Writing this down will be really useful in shaping your strategy for the account.

If your account is a platform for your own ideas and interactions, and represents you as an individual rather than a University service, be really clear on what you’re setting out to achieve on social media. It’s probably something like ‘share academic opinions on X, network with other experts, and keep up-to-date with developments in my field of expertise’. Again, write it down.

Once you’ve done this, you might want to think about:

For more advice on getting started with social media, speak to Sheffield Hallam’s Digital Team.

Next: audience