Social Media Governance: The Good Stuff

These days, it seems social media policy is actually morphing into social media governance. Social media is now mainstream and just policy isn’t enough; a campus needs to do more to manage social media. And, the short time where the goal was to limit a social presence to one institutional channel on Facebook and one institutional Twitter feed is gone, gone, gone. Now, a plethora of institutional social channels is expected because the idea of only one centrally-managed social channel worked about as well as the idea of just one website. Too much about your campus is going on in the social space. One Facebook channel from the U simply can’t simultaneously represent the news, updates and conversation about the golf club, the school of law, the alumni association, and the biology department.

So what to do while letting a thousand flowers bloom?
After all, these wildflowers (the disparate social channels) are tied to your brand; they represent your institution. Try policy, oversight and social media user groups as three key components of social media governance. While putting together a governance plan for social on your campus, gather insights and best practices from others.

Somebody needs to be in charge around here!
Don’t let everyone and no one manage social on your campus. One office, unit or department needs to have official oversight for social media. Fortunately, we all get by with some help from our friends. Here are a few favorites and essentials for social governance on a campus:

  • The central marketing and communications unit (presumably the one with oversight for all social media) should review requests to use social for communication as a first step. (Hats off to Wilfrid Laurier University!)
  • Establish a social media user group to support both oversight and collaboration. (Thanks, SMUG @ William & Mary!)
  • A visual identity system for consistent and brand-based avatars and profile pics is recommended. (Cheers to you, Nazareth College. View the profile pics for Nazareth College and for Nazareth College Admissions.)
  • Social is now mainstream for crisis and emergency communications. Do it right. (Thank you Chris Syme for showing us how!)

Use your social media user group like a starter kit.
If oversight from a central unit might generate some pushback on your campus, a social media users group may be the way to start. Social media user groups can serve as starter kits for governance. After all, the camel’s nose is in the tent once a sponsoring unit begins to host a user group. The sponsors/hosts will offer benefits to campus social managers and ultimately will come to be viewed by them as “in charge.” Social media user groups can:

  • Orient newbies about social platforms
  • Share best practices
  • Offer tips, tricks and tools
  • Host speakers and watch webinars
  • Generate announcements about, and discussion of, policy
  • Improve coordination, allowing you to stay on message
  • Cross-pollinate (i.e., cross posting and promoting other channels)

Start the year right. Spend a little time establishing a bit of social media governance on your campus.

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Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

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