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Six Tips for a Digital Phi


By David Almacy, Widener ‘92

As the saying goes, some of the greatest stories are those that are never told.  However, the growth of the Internet and social media makes it easier to avoid that.  Today, the evolving media landscape allows each of us to tell our own story, and we have more channels than ever to do so.

Our digital footprint is defined by how we are represented online – specifically by the content that’s published on websites, blogs, social media and organized based on relevancy via search engines.  The web not only provides your chapter with the ability to tell and archive your own stories, but it also allows for new avenues to directly connect people to Phi Delta Theta news in real time.

Here are six digital tips to ensure that your chapter is getting the most out of your online presence:

Content is King
Obviously, the first step is to ensure that someone in your chapter is designated with the responsibility of cataloging chapter events and activities online.  In the past, this has been the job of the secretary or historian, but these days, anyone with a mobile device can snap photos, tweet, post status updates or upload video on the fly.  However, appointing a member charged with aggregating content will assist in managing the coverage and ensure that anything published online is timely and relevant.

Own the Web
Whether it’s a blog or an official Phi Delt chapter website, owning an online outlet is essential.  This is a place where you control all the content and can provide unique first person perspective.  When writing for the web, be concise.  It only takes a few minutes to type up a couple paragraphs to describe an event.  Stick with the basics of what we all learned in Journalism 101 by answering who, what, when, where, why and how.  Then, seek out a couple supporting quotes from members or other participants and, when possible, include multimedia to add a little color.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Clicks
Visual content such as photos and video are always a plus.  They add context to the story and increase the chances that your posts will be seen.  A recent eMarketer study (11/8/11) showed that click through rates increase when photos and videos are included in Facebook posts.  Video assets could include event footage, participant interviews, photo slideshows, music and graphics.  Ideally, the final product should be short – no more than three to five minutes.  When posting, choose relevant titles that accurately describe the event along with specific keywords (Phi Delta Theta, chapter name, school, event, members) for your images, photo sets and video so that others can find them more easily when searching.  Also, embedding YouTube videos and Flickr albums into your blog or chapter website will help with analytics and provide an opportunity for other users to share and cross-promote.

Social Sharing
Be sure to leverage some of the social media sites and networks that are available to you.  When setting up accounts, consider reserving consistent usernames on behalf of the chapter and indicate publicly who is responsible for managing the properties and posting updates.  Of course, Facebook and Twitter are among the largest of these social communities, but there are many more to explore such as YouTube and Vimeo for video, Flickr and Instagram for photos, Path for personal networks, LinkedIn for career development and alumni networking, Foursquare for location-based event “check-ins” and the newest contender to the space, Google+.  Many of these tools are free and offer quick and easy upload and embed features which allow for optimal online sharing. Select a hashtag (such as #phidelt) for attendees and interested parties to use when tweeting which will assist in identifying and aggregating social media content.  Don’t be shy about cross-promoting across channels, everyone consumes information differently.

Community Engagement
Publishing content is just the first step.  By building an active and engaged online community, you will increase the chances that your content will be seen and shared.  Use the chapter’s social media accounts to follow and connect with your chapter brothers, Phi Delt alumni, other Greek organizations, fellow students, school administrators and faculty, community leaders and local media.  Remember, the web is a social medium, so it is important to listen to your community when they engage with you.  Respond to their posts in a timely manner and be sure to share their content in your channels from time to time, as well.  In general, try to publish regularly and offer a variety of posts such as short status updates, links to blog entries, photos, news items, school team sports scores, tweets, video, trivia, alumni notes, etc.  Lastly, don’t discount the value of email.  Although texting and mobile application use is on the rise, most people still rely heavily on email for communication.  Build a solid email list and actively manage it over time.  When sending, provide short updates in the body of the email with links back to the chapter’s website or social media property.  This will increase traffic, boost followers and further establish your channels as credible sources of information.

Build Content Partnerships
As an old friend used to say, you can catch more fish with several lines in the water.  The same is true when seeking to reach a wider online audience.  One blog post on a specific website can generate conversation among a small community but if published and linked via many sites, the impact will be far greater.  Seek online content partnerships with community organizations, media and campus groups.  Establish relationships with local blogs whether near campus, in neighboring cities or within your geographic region.  Also, there may be other Phi Delt chapters that can help spread the word.  So, be sure to follow our brothers via social media and feel free to re-post if you see something of interest.

So, let’s put this all together.  After covering an event by collecting photos and video footage, type up a short summary, upload the video to YouTube, embed it into a post on your website or blog, tweet out a headline with link, share it in Facebook and then email it to your list.  Track which platform gains the most traction then mix it up and adapt for future postings.

Indeed, the power of social media is changing how we all connect and communicate.  Taking advantage of these online tools will enhance your ability to share your Phi Delta Theta experience, celebrate chapter successes, promote member activities, engage with interested audiences and build online community.  And everyone plays a role.  After all, one tweet is no tweet!

David Almacy is a senior vice president on the digital public affairs team at Edelman public relations in Washington, DC.  Previously, he was the White House Internet Director for President George W. Bush where he managed online communications strategy and was the spokesman and lead contact for digital influentials.  After graduation from Widener University, where he was initiated into Phi Delta Theta as a member of the Pennsylvania Mu Chapter, Brother Almacy worked for the general headquarters as a chapter consultant.  He later served the fraternity as a province president and is the current chairman of the Survey Commission, Phi Delta Theta’s expansion committee.  He lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife, Julie, and two daughters. Follow David’s tweets (@almacy) and check out his blog CapitalGig where he writes about the intersection of technology and politics in our Nation’s Capital.