Best Practices, Tips, & Tools


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Listen to Conversations and Participate in Communities

Social media is about connecting with people. Being a consumer of social media is essential to the ability to be a successful producer of social media content. It's important to listen to what others are saying, respond appropriately, and ask open-ended questions that encourage interaction and connection. Listen to online conversations on blogs, Twitter, Facebook or other channels to maintain a clear and current understanding of what is relevant and of interest to the community. Use conversational language and tone, but be respectful, clear and accurate.

As a consumer as well as a producer of social media, offer comments on interesting posts and share the good work of others using the site. Social media is not only about sharing campus news and success; it is about sharing information of interest to viewers. Consider sharing the best information from trusted sources outside of Sonoma State University. This will increase the value of the site. Always keep the viewer's perspective in mind. It may be different from the poster's.

Be Active and Timely

Social media presences require diligent care and feeding. Social sites are not static, but build interest from a steady stream of interesting content. The site is only as interesting as the last post. If that post is weeks or months old, visitors will consider it dead and likely not return. If a department cannot allocate time or resources to check in on these sites for at least a few minutes each day and post fresh content several times a week, reconsider jumping in to social media at this time.

Watch the Time

Endless amounts of time can be spent on social media sites. Limit the amount of time spent attending to a department's social media presence to what is needed to post content, evaluate traffic data, review related sites, and monitor comments.

Separate Personal from Professional

Balancing professional and personal social media presences can be tricky, particularly if a person is an avid user in both arenas. Content that is appropriate and of interest to personal friends is most likely not appropriate or of interest to a department's friends or fans. Keep these two presences as separate as possible by keeping content about non-work life on a personal page.

In the event of a worst-case scenario, ensure that at least two people are administrators for each account or channel, one of which is a faculty or staff member.

Be Honest & Respectful

When you maintain a social media site that represents a university program, it's your responsibility to clearly state your role and goals. Don't try to hide your identity.

Social media is not private and anything posted by a Sonoma State University or auxiliary employee reflects on the institution. Be professional and respectful at all times on your social media site. Do not engage in arguments or extensive debates with naysayers on your site. Don't post a comment while angry or upset; wait until later. Anything written on a social media platform can be shared, and search engines can retrieve posts a long time after they were posted. Even deleted comments can be saved in archival systems. Think before posting, remembering that anything shared within social media, even within a closed network, is not private. It can and will be shared, stored and spread globally. Do not post anything online that would be uncomfortable to see on the front page of a newspaper or a website.

Accept and Monitor Comments

A social media site without comments isn't very social. Be prepared to accept and respond to comments. Understand that not all comments will be positive, and respond to negative comments professionally and by providing any additional information that may help resolve the issue without sounding defensive. Counter inaccurate statements with accurate facts. Social media sites are not just public relations platforms. Know that a site that allows negative comments will be seen as place to return for updates. Post a disclaimer on the site stating that the University reserves the right to remove inappropriate comments.

Inappropriate Comments

All official Sonoma State University social media accounts reserve the right to delete comments that are deemed offensive or inappropriate. Remove those comments containing vulgar language, those that attack any one group or individual and those that are obviously spam. If you are having trouble deciding what to do about a comment on your site, contact the University Affairs Division for assistance.

Logos, Format and Graphics

Sonoma State University social media sites should follow SSU's identity toolkit and accessibility standards. Use approved logos, university colors, etc. Follow the guidelines set forth in the Identity Toolkit prepared by the University Affairs Division.

Observe Copyright Law and Cite Sources

Most books, journals, magazines, photographs, articles, music, etc. are protected under copyright laws. Be careful to seek out permissions and cite content sources when writing for social media platforms. If there are questions about copyright law, consult Karen Brodsky of the University Library for advice.

Tools

Bit.ly and TinyURL are free URL shorteners that are very helpful when crafting posts that have long link addresses.

The HootSuite platform can help you plan ahead and schedule posts in advance. It also has Ow.ly, its built-in URL shortener, and some analytics tools.

Twitpic makes uploading photos and video to Twitter easier.

More Social Media Guidelines

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