Social media guidelines: thought leadership, getting started and (more) content

The communications and development team on an away day hike up Mam Tor. Just because.

I’ve added a few new sections to our social media guidelines over the last week or so. (Picture unrelated – it’s me and the communications and development team on top of Mam Tor on our away day recently)

The first is about thought leadership. I’ve been speaking to a lot of colleagues recently about blogging, and its potential for raising their profiles and highlighting their expertise. It’s something that the University’s news and PR team are keen to drive forward, too.

There’s a huge crossover between social media and traditional media when it comes to thought leadership. Media outlets are always looking out for expert opinion, and we’re fortunate that we have examples of our own academics’ blogs being picked up by news media.

Hopefully this new section will allow us to develop a programme of support and training for academics at Sheffield Hallam who want to raise their profiles, promote research and network with other experts.

Sheffield Hallam's VC, Chris Husbands

A great example of someone who uses digital platforms for thought leadership: Sheffield Hallam’s VC, Chris Husbands

The second update to the guidelines is a ‘getting started’ guide. I’ve previously avoided doing this, because a lot of people at Hallam have passed the point of needing help in getting started. We’ve had lots of support from our learning technology teams and social media experts like Sue Beckingham (another great user of digital for thought leadership) in getting our social media profiles up-and-running.

But there are new developments in technology all the time, changes to the ways platforms operate (or how people use them) and some people may just be late to the party. So the ‘getting started’ guide is hopefully helpful to colleagues who are thinking of utilising social media for teaching and learning, promotion of events, student engagement or thought leadership.

There will be gaps. Communication is a huge subject, and different people want different things from their social media guidelines. And, currently, these guidelines don’t get particularly granular: there’s not a section on the difference between a Facebook page, group and profile, for example.

Maybe there needs to be. That’s why the guidelines exist in this format, instead of a Word document on the staff intranet: they can change and grow to meet the needs of the organisation.

Lastly, I’ve updated the section on content planning to include more detail. I hope it’s useful.

To round this post off, here are some general social media tips from Warwick University’s digital thinker-and-doer Dave Musson. If you haven’t met Dave, or seen him speak at an event, he’s a real expert on digital engagement, and has a genuinely collaborative approach to communications. Enjoy.

Joe Field, social media manager

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