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11.1 General considerations 

If you already have a social media strategy or policy, developed during the early days of implementation, now might be a good time to review that document to see whether it reflects all of the uses you ought to be making of social media and whether it strikes the right balance between encouraging good practice and managing risk. If you do not already have a strategy or policy then now might be a good time to think about clarifying your approach. We suggest that, as a minimum, you might want to look at your approach to the use of social media from the following perspectives:

  • fit with mission and values 
  • clarity of purpose 
  • consistency of identity 
  • channels and audience 
  • marketing and outreach 
  • student support 
  • enhancing learning and teaching practice 
  • enhancing research 
  • business and community engagement 
  • accessibility and inclusivity 
  • legal issues 
  • HR issues 
  • IT issues 
  • training and guidance for staff and students 
  • measuring outcomes.
You may find it is better to use a few tools well than to try to keep up with too many new developments. On the other hand, allowing experimentation and recognising that different tools suit different purposes may fit better with your institutional culture.

It may be worth having a discussion about the extent to which it is possible/desirable to control activity on social media, especially if your approach to date has been very focused on trying to maintain control of developments in order to manage reputational risk.

Most of all think about the opportunities. With all the hype around MOOCs at the moment it is easy to forget how effective other channels have been at reaching a wide audience - the Open University reached 40 million downloads of learning resources on iTunes U by 2011 and global downloads topped 1 billion in February 2013 . There have been some surprising success stories such as the Glasgow philosophy lecturer who topped the worldwide iTunes U charts in 2005 and had a direct impact on widening participation .

Understand where you are and where you want to be. It is important to be realistic about your institutional readiness to embrace social media (largely a cultural rather than a technical issue) and to have a plan for moving forward that includes both staff development and measurement of outcomes.

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