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More and more, social media is our first (and closest) contact with our audiences. But audiences’ attention is fleeting; you only have a few seconds to make a great impression. Use these tips to guide you through the social sphere—and make your followers listen to what you have to say.
- Get approved. If you’re acting as the voice of your unit, make sure your boss is on board with what you’re saying. Then, you’ll need to register your account with University Marketing and Communications.
- What’s your name? Be sure your handle not only makes sense but also accurately reflects your relationship—or lack thereof—with the university. On Twitter, you’ll want to keep it short; if referencing the university in your name, use “CWRU” instead of “Case” (which, by the way, should only ever be used in reference to the Case Institute of Technology). On Facebook, your accounts can be better found if you include “CWRU,” “Case Western Reserve” or “Case Western Reserve University” in it. And, as always, please remember: Our name is Case Western Reserve University, Case Western Reserve or CWRU. Other iterations do not accurately reflect the institution or its history. UMC will approve all names.
- Be accurate—but correct your mistakes if they happen. It’s crucial to ensure you have the details straight before you post a status update or send a tweet. But no one is perfect. If you make a mistake, fess up. Correct any inaccuracies or errors in a quick, upfront manner. Make it clear—whether in follow-up posts, comments or replacements—that you’re aware of the error and have made the appropriate corrections. Your honesty and diligence will help you become a trusted voice in the social community.
- Transparency is the best policy. When you’re managing an account for a department or unit, usually no one knows exactly who you are. But it’s OK to let your community members know they’re interacting with a real person. You don’t have to state your name and title every time you post, but if someone asks, tell them! And remember: Because they don’t know who you are, they view your posts as coming from the university. What you say directly reflects on all of us.
- Have something to say. You must have enough relevant content to post regularly; we recommend at least three times per week on Facebook, once per day on Twitter and a few times a month on Instagram. Notice we said “relevant content.” Don’t inundate your followers with information that doesn’t affect them. That’s not a way to gain—or keep—fans. If you don’t have enough to post, it’s time to rethink your social media strategy. (Contact us. We can help.)
- What’s your response? You should (usually) have one. Social media is at its best when it fosters a dialogue. Build your community by allowing—and encouraging—your fans to ask questions and providing them with answers.
- Be timely. In order to successfully manage social media pages, an administrator should check the accounts at least once daily (ideally more often) to respond to questions or comments.
- Don’t censor. Case Western Reserve University is committed to demonstrating respect for diversity of thought, ideas and opinions. Allow open discourse about relevant topics, even if subjects disagree with one another. We do not censor, even if the content reflects unfavorably on the university. (Only content that is factually incorrect needs to be addressed.) Speech that is obscene, threatening, abusive or illegal in any manner, however, is unacceptable and must be removed immediately. As administrator, it is your responsibility to identify the offending user and report him/her to the social media platform administrators. You may want to take a screen capture of the offending materials for future reference.
- Know when to step in. Discussions can turn heated or even inappropriate or offensive. You don’t need to step in at every critical statement, but keep a close eye on the conversation. Sometimes you’ll have to be the moderator; a few quick reminders to be civil might do the trick. Other times, your community members will do it for you. Avoid being confrontational or a censor, and stick with your tone and intent of your social media strategy. And, above all, protect the rights of your users.
- Be a user. If you don’t experience the tools as a regular fan, you’ll never maximize your ability to use those tools as a communicator. Being active on social media allows you to see what others do well—and then do it one better.
- It’s a conversation. Your fans are real people. Talk to them like they’re in the room. Nix the fancy language and, instead, show your personality, develop a rapport and encourage discussion.
- Give generously. Your fans made the effort to find you. Reward them. Make them feel special with exclusive content, advice, thought-provoking questions and games. Allow them first access to announcements or events. Give them a reason to care about your message.
- Anything short of awesome is spam. Put yourself in the “fan” seat and evaluate if you’d actually want to read it. If you’re not interested, you’ll just bother them—and you’ll lose them.
What to Watch For (and When)
Social media gives you a unique opportunity to interact with your fans and create connections—not just send out a message and never follow up.
But how can you do that if you’re not watching the conversation? To be a good social media member, you must monitor your accounts regularly.
A few tips to do so:
- Set up an account on a social-media-monitoring site, such as HootSuite. Here, you can watch the activity on all of the social media accounts you manage, as well as track when people are talking about certain phrases, such as “CWRU.”
- You also can sign up for fee-based monitoring services that email you at least daily with notifications on when you’ve been mentioned on social media. For more information on recommended services, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Log in to your accounts multiple times per day—especially right after you’ve made a post—to see how and if people are responding. If they’re asking questions, answer them! If they’re giving you compliments, thank them (or like/favorite their messages)! If they’re being negative…well, you may choose to respond, or not. See our response flowchart for our suggestions on when to engage—and when to steer clear.
- Are you going on vacation or out of the office for a few days? Make sure a backup administrator is monitoring your accounts and has the power to respond appropriately.
Mobile devices allow you to be connected nearly any time at any place. Which is great—except when it’s not.
Having your university-affiliated accounts linked to your mobile device can be a positive: You can respond to comments immediately and keep tabs on what’s happening. But it also can be dangerous: You think you’ve switched from the university’s Twitter page to your own account and go to make a personal post…only to have it show up on your CWRU-affiliated page. This can quickly damage the university’s brand—not to mention your own image within your department.
Mistakes happen, but if we can mitigate the potential of them occurring, we prefer to. University Marketing and Communications recommends you do not post from your mobile device to an Official Social Media Account unless absolutely necessary (in case of a crisis, for example) or unless it’s a mobile-based platform, such as Instagram, or runs through a separate app, such as Facebook Business Manager’s Facebook Pages.
Identifying Inappropriate Accounts
Though University Marketing and Communications attempts to track accounts affiliated with the university, this is a nearly impossible task. As such, we ask that all members of the campus community are good brand stewards and keep an eye out for accounts claiming a Case Western Reserve connection.
Some ways in which accounts may misrepresent a relationship with CWRU include use of:
- our logo (official or modified)
- the university name (or some version of the university’s name, including “Case,” “Case Western,” “Case Western Reserve,” “Case Western Reserve University” or “CWRU”)
- our tagline (“think beyond the possible”)
If you come across an inappropriate social media account—or simply one you’re questioning—please notify University Marketing and Communications immediately at email@example.com. If necessary, we then will contact the Office of the General Counsel to discuss appropriate next steps.
Remember: It’s Out There
Anything you share on social media is public. It can be shared, stored and spread globally. Don’t post anything that you would not be comfortable having shared with your colleagues, parents or even strangers.