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  • Writer's pictureJon McBride

Adding Value through a Social Media Awards Program

It's always nice to be awarded for your work.

It's extra nice when you can share that recognition with your superiors as evidence of the high quality work you're doing.

It's also great when the awards show where the awards are presented isn't horrible.

Those are the key motivations and elements within the annual BYU Golden Hashtags. It's an awards program now going into its eighth year running, described as the Golden Globes meeting a tutorial for higher ed social media.

Run by BYU's central communications office, submissions are open to all social media managers who run an account for a campus entity. Everyone from the microbiology department to alumni relations to the copyright and licensing office participates. They submit their best social media content of the past academic year and the central communications office puts the submissions into different categories and awards the best of the best.

Last year's BYU Golden Hashtags had a plethora of submissions and included awards for excellence in engagement, excellence in social video, excellence in Instagram stories, excellence in humor, excellence in access, excellence in impact and much more.

The awards are announced and handed out at an event where the BYU social media manager community (and others who are interested) are invited. Certificates and prizes are distributed. But also, takeaways and best practices are shared. What was it exactly that made the award-winning content effective, successful and/or impactful? What best practices were employed? Answers to those questions are shared, while those in attendance are encouraged to think about how the best practices shown can be replicated in comparable projects in their areas.

It's heartening to see how much a Golden Hashtag award means to many of these employees ... and their bosses. That's priority No. 1 with this stuff.

But working at a large institution with various social properties that are almost impossible to police and govern, it can be a lot more productive to promote best practices in a format like this to show what is being done effectively, rather than just having to inject yourself when things are going wrong. Something about a carrot and a stick?

The Golden Hashtags is the culminating event of the year for the BYU Social Media Committee. The committee is comprised of anyone on campus who touches or helps run a BYU-related social property. We try to meet once a month where we'll go through a case study or have a guest speaker or look broadly at trends and best practices in a roundtable format. We also have a private Facebook group where we can share things and chat with each other any time.

Questions? Interested in setting up something similar at your institution? Shoot me an email, and I'd love to chat:

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