Channel Strategy at Duke: Audiences, Platforms and How We Decide What to Post Where

When we started really thinking about how we wanted to share our content at Duke, we realized we needed to think about both audience and platform. As it turns out, it was harder than we thought to answer the questions, “Who is our audience?” and, “What are our platforms?”

We started with the question of audience. It’s a question that bears a little more thought than it would if we were selling widgets, since we’re trying to reach a lot of different audiences at once and there’s not one single, measurable goal we’re shooting for.

We came up with something that looked like this:chart of all Duke audiences

If that’s not enough to make your head spin, then we had to think about all of the platforms that we have available for our use, and which audiences use which platforms. Can we reach all of our students with a newsletter? Are a large percentage of our alumni fans on our Facebook page? What about prospective students in China, where many of our social channels are not accessible?

We ended up with a really, really complicated grid. Don’t look at this for too long. Your brain will melt.

Ok, so the chart above isn’t super helpful. When I shared it with my colleagues, most of them kind of just got glassy-eyed and uninterested. I get it. It’s too much.

But, what this chart allowed me to do was come up with a channel strategy: a way to say what each Duke channel can be used for, based on where our audiences interact.

Each slide looks something like this:

It’s a living document that everyone on the social media team can reference, and it changes as our policies change, which means we can pivot if Facebook changes their algorithm (again) or if Instagram adds a shiny new feature.

Your mileage will vary, of course. Each institution will have unique audiences and demographics for each platform.

We’ve found, though, that as a social media and content team at Duke, having everything spelled out like this means we can strategize together, create with the same goal in mind, and fill in for each other a lot easier than we could before.

Want to hear more about this? I’ll be speaking on this topic at the Social Fresh conference in December. Other speakers include folks from IBM, Starbucks and Facebook. Hope you’ll join me there to hear about lots of actionable and practical tips, tricks and case studies.

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