Web, New Media and Design (June 2012)
Getting Started: Social Media Guidelines
University-sponsored social media presences are required to adhere to existing web policies found at University Web and New Media Resources Policy (General Policy) and Terms of Service. The world of social media changes frequently and the freedom that users have to experiment is part of what makes resources like Facebook, YouTube, Foursquare, Twitter and others exciting, engaging and interesting. With this innovative spirit in mind, these guidelines are intended to provide a general context – as a social media manager, you are representing the university and that is both a privilege and responsibility. If you have specific questions, scenarios or strategies, please contact your web and new media manager.
Before You Begin
The first step is to become familiar with LMU’s web and new media policies. We request that you observe the conversations and activity in which official LMU social media sites are currently engaged. This will give you a better idea about the university’s community culture and etiquette. Each LMU social media account must be clearly defined as distinct from other LMU social media communities by membership, purpose and/or editorial content.
Sign-Up/Register: If you haven’t already done so, click here and either sign-up for a social media account or register your account with the Office of Marketing and Communications. This happens for a few reasons: (a) you will be listed in the university’s current efforts to build a social media directory; (b) we will integrate/associate you with the fan/follower-base of the university’s master accounts; (c) for general policy reasons, the university needs to be aware of online activity engaged on the its behalf.
There are three objectives to consider before beginning your journey in social media:
- Who is the audience you wish to engage?
- What is the intended outcome of that engagement?
- Do you have the experience and time commitment to manage a social media account?
What’s your goal?
“Kids use Facebook to communicate these days” is not a good enough reason to start a Facebook fan page. What are you trying to accomplish on Twitter or LinkedIn or others that cannot be accomplished through other means? On the flip side, what are you offering users that they can’t get elsewhere? Finally, how will you measure success?
Do not fall into the trap of thinking that just because the technology exists you need to be using it. Hosting new communities in social media involves consistent effort over the long haul and is only one of many ways to engage your audience and/or clients. Please take time to consider if creating a separate social media platform for your LMU group is the most effective communication strategy.
Another common misperception is that social media is free advertising or marketing. This is not true. While there are no costs to join and participate in many social media platforms, each department, division or unit must take in account the cost of time that is involved in maintaining and producing meaningful content.
In addition, it is very important to understand that social media is a two-way medium. It is about engaging in a conversation that provides helpful, useful and relevant information and content as an essential component of that conversation rather than just broadcasting information.
It’s not about you – it’s about your audience.
Social media outlets are a way for users to engage with other people and organizations to which they are connected. But those users only stay engaged if the conversations are related to their needs and wants. Know who your users are and pay attention to what they want to get out of being connected to your group. Don’t just assume they want the same things you want to give them.
Bigger may be better.
If your group is part of a bigger organization on campus, you may be better off folding your social media presence into that of the larger group. For instance, USC has 12,689 Facebook fans, while USC Safety & Emergency Preparedness has 229. If you only have a small following, that could be a sign that you don’t need your own specific social media presence.
Facebook is not always the answer.
It’s true that Facebook is the biggest piece of the social media puzzle. But there are many other media, and depending on your goals, some may work better than others. Talk with a web and new media staffer about what is best for you.
Who’s in charge?
Someone needs to operate your Facebook, Twitter and/or YouTube channel. Define within your group who has the log-in, whether it’s one person or several, and who makes the call on what content will be posted.
Each social media account should have a social media manager. A social media manager is responsible for posting, monitoring and using content, and maintaining compliance with all of LMU policies and protocols.
Some key requirements to keep in mind regarding the responsibilities of a content manager:
- Social Media Managers must make sure content is timely and accurate. They must demonstrate that they have sufficient content to engage a community on a regular basis.
- They must have a clearly defined strategy that demonstrate knowledge of social media culture and etiquette.
- Social Media Managers must engage in communications that are acceptable in the LMU workplace and respect copyrights and disclosures.
- Social Media Managers must be responsible for gaining the expressed consent of all involved parties for the right to distribution or publication of recordings, photos, images, video, text, slideshow presentations, artwork and advertisements whether those rights are purchased or obtained without compensation.
- Social Media Managers must be responsible for constantly monitoring postings and comments to social media sites, and for deleting postings that do not adhere to LMU’s policies.
- What social media has over the institutional website is that it is interactive and generally less formal. Users can communicate with you, with each other, and in every possible direction. For that reason, it’s better to develop content that involves users, rather than just talking at them. Ask questions, take polls, offer activities, respond to inquiries—it’s all part of interacting with the community.
- Examples: Mediocre tweet: LMU Announces $50 Million Gift to Rename Science Building. Better tweet: We’re renaming the Science Building! If it was your decision, what would you name it? Best answer gets retweeted here.
- People use social media because it engages them. The content is either fun or crucially informative to their lives. So keep it fun and interesting!
Be a person
- Social media is about being social between people. Even if your posts are coming from an official LMU entity, the content is created by a person. Stay away from stiff or bureaucratic language, and remember your community wants to interact with people, not machines or offices. In doing that, be sure to remember that you are speaking as an LMU employee, so don’t say anything you wouldn’t readily stand by or say in your office.
Frequent, but not too frequent
- A key piece of engaging your community is posting regularly. If you only tweet five times a year, why would anyone follow you? Likewise, it’s overkill to post an event invitation followed by six reminder messages. Stay up-to-date, but don’t wear your users out.