Do we need a social media presence?
The answer may surprise you! Here are some questions you should answer with your colleagues before starting.
- What are you trying to achieve? If you are producing a lot of great content for your website or blog that you want to share with a wider audience, are hosting frequent events, or would like to engage in regular conversations online, social media can help you achieve your goals. If you are only thinking about setting something up because colleagues in another office or at another institution are doing it, social media likely isn't worth the time investment it will require of you. Similarly, if you are already realizing success at one of these goals through other means, like email newsletters or face-to-face discussions, you may have even greater success building on that foundation.
- Who will be responsible for your social media presence? These things don't run themselves! The most important factor in social media success is authenticity. We can set something up so that all your posts or events are dumped onto Twitter or Facebook, but you're not likely to get a real audience. You'll need to curate and schedule the content you share and respond to questions and comments. And a big part of social media is being social, reaching out, following, and commenting with other people. Think carefully about the amount of time you or your staff will be able to commit.
- What services will you use? We recommend starting small and building as you go. Facebook is still ubiquitous and offers a lot of flexibility in how you present your content and interact with other users. Twitter is also very popular and is quick to use, thanks to the restrictions it imposes on messages. Start with one or both of those and branch out only after you've achieved steady and repeated success at the goals you outlined in answering the first question.
Tips for Good Interaction on Social Media
- People love pictures!
- Ask questions to start discussion.
- Everyone's audience is different.
- Follow people who follow you, talk to them when appropriate.
- Try posting at different times of the day to see when people check in with you.
- Assume that all your posts and comments are public and permanent.
Are there any policies on social media use at Middlebury?
You should always follow the Handbook guidelines on Responsible Use of Computing and Network Services and Facilities as well as the Copyright and Privacy guidelines. When setting up accounts for your office or department, use "Midd" or "Middlebury" in the account name so that people can easily identify your account as being a part of the institution. We also request that you send a note to College Communications (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that we can include your account(s) in a directory of social media services for the institution.
It is alright to allow student workers or volunteers to assist you in managing your area's social media account(s), but at least one member of staff or faculty should be the administrator of the account(s). You should make arrangements to transfer administration of the accounts in the event that person leaves Middlebury.
Middlebury College's Social Media Accounts
- Twitter (Communications Office): www.twitter.com/middlebury
- Twitter (Athletics): www.twitter.com/middathletics
- Twitter (Alumni Office): www.twitter.com/middalumni
- Twitter (Middlebury Magazine): www.twitter.com/middleburymag
- YouTube: www.youtube.com/middcommunications
- Blogs: There are dozens of Middlebury related blogs listed at http://blogs.middlebury.edu.