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11.2 Hints and tips 

You will find good practice guidance spread throughout each section of this Toolkit but a few of the main pointers for corporate users are highlighted here:


  • Know why you are doing this – be clear about what benefits you want to achieve. 

  • Be consistent – have an appropriate combination of strategy/policy/guidelines to communicate your approach to all users. This does not need to be complicated – focus on how your use of social media supports your core principles and values rather than on defining a detailed set of rules about what can and cannot be done. 

  • Understand your users – think about using approaches such as service design to better understand how social media can improve the experience of interacting with your institution. This will help you choose the right tools and design effective processes to support their use. 

  • Be visible and accessible – make sure your users can find you by clearly signposting links to your social media presence on the home page of your website. Make sure the tools you choose are accessible to the widest possible range of users. 

  • Create a strong digital identity – you will have corporate branding and communication guidelines but finding your corporate voice in social media channels can be more of a challenge. Your style should maintain professional standards although it is likely to be less formal than other types of communication. Be careful to avoid common abbreviations that may make your posts less accessible to those who do not have English as their first language. Where you have a group of staff contributing to corporate communications do not be afraid to let them have individual identities – the National Rail Enquiries helpline on Twitter (@nationalrailenq) is a good example of this working well. 

  • Be current and relevant – by setting up a social media presence you are committing to keeping it up-to-date and relevant to the target audience. You may want to consider splitting a channel into different identities for different audiences if topics are becoming mixed or, conversely, amalgamating groups that are similar and have limited activity. You also need to ensure that dormant accounts are closed down. This may involve making a final post and leaving the archive visible or removing a site altogether. It is likely that those with corporate responsibility may have to do some regular housekeeping of channels used by other parts of the institution. 

  • Ensure adequate resourcing – related to the above, and also to the timeliness of responses and meeting user expectations, is the need to ensure that official channels of communication have an active presence at all reasonable times. What is likely to meet user expectations may vary depending on the purpose for which a particular communication channel is set up. What is clear is that one or two people doing this in their spare time is not likely to generate effective engagement. A certain amount of dedicated resource may be needed in a number of key areas of the institution. 

  • Engage your users – keep your social media channels social and do not use them simply to broadcast information. As part of offering meaningful engagement you will need to decide how best to encourage discussion and the exchange of ideas whilst finding appropriate ways to respond to criticism and views you do not agree with. There is more on this topic in Sections 3, Delivering benefits and 8, The right to have your say. We offer a framework for deciding what oversteps the bounds of acceptability and the appropriate action to take in such cases but you as an institution need to find your own voice and create your own image as a place of stimulating and thoughtful debate. 

  • Protect your users – a duty of care to both staff and students demands pro-activity about esafety and about sources of advice in cases of cyber bullying or harassment whether or not this takes place through official institutional channels. You should moderate comments on your official presence to avoid spam postings or the publication of material that could constitute an offence, whilst ensuring that you do not stifle discussion and the expression of legitimate opposing views. We offer guidance on this in Sections 9, Legal issues and 10, When it goes wrong. 

  • Protect your institution – in Section 4, Social media strategy and policy, we offer a model for developing a policy, and associated procedures to deal with any breaches thereof, in order to ensure that your institution operates within the law and to mitigate the risk of legal liability or reputational risk should any of your users break the law. In Section 10, When it goes wrong, we look at steps to protect your corporate accounts from malicious use. 

  • Keep an eye on trends – social media is here to stay but is a fast-moving environment so you need to keep an eye on what your users are doing (and saying) and also look out for new developments that might offer opportunities for you to innovate and differentiate. 

  • Measure success – think about what meaningful success measures look like for your institution and measure the things that matter.

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