Concordia's social media activities help further the university's mission to enrich the world's wealth of knowledge and bridge communities. Concordia's commitment to engagement translates into opportunities to build and strengthen relationships based on ongoing dialogue and mutual respect.
What is social media?
Social media is the creation and exchange of user-generated content with interactive dialogue that takes on various forms. Examples of the differing types of social networking sites include:
- Facebook, Twitter and Google+ which are primarily used for personal and recreational discussion
- LinkedIn for professional networking
- Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr for photo sharing
- YouTube, Vimeo and Vine for video sharing
- Blogs for online self-publishing
- Wikipedia for collaborative documentation
After Google, social media sites are the most visited on both the web and mobile devices. Social media is not a trend but represents a shift in how people communicate with one another. People no longer want to be talked at but rather, they want organizations to listen and be responsive and provide opportunities for engagement. This new and ever-changing landscape presents both challenges and opportunities for communicators.
How you behave online could affect your studies and/or profession. Take the time to peruse Concordia's existing policies, as well as guidelines and basic principles that govern the usage of social media either on behalf of the university (in the workplace) or for personal reasons. The policies can also be found in Concordia.ca under Terms:
- Code of Conduct
- Code of Rights and Responsibilities
- Policy on Copyright Compliance
- Privacy concerning the protection of personal information and Guidelines on the application on the act of respecting access
- Policy on the Use of Concordia University's Name, Logo and Related Insignia, and the Governance
Be sure to familiarize yourself with these sites' respective policies as well:
- Facebook data use policy
- Google terms of service
- YouTube community guidelines
- Twitter rules
- Pinterest terms of service
- Instagram terms of service
- Flickr community guidelines
- LinkedIn user agreement
Social media works best when there are*:
- Real people
- Genuine intentions
- Quality content behind every profile, tweet and share/post
Motivations for contributing to social media rely on four pillars:
- Anticipated Reciprocity. A person is motivated to contribute valuable information to the group in the expectation that one will receive useful help and information in return.
- Increased Recognition. Recognition is important to online contributors. Individuals generally want recognition for their contributions.
- Sense of efficacy. Individuals may contribute valuable information because the act results in a sense that they have had some effect on this environment.
- Communion. People are fairly social beings and it motivates many people to receive direct responses to their contributions.
- Do Listen. The most important first step you can take in social media is to listen before you “speak.” Social media offers a unique window into the lives of colleagues, customers, and influential people, but only if you don't talk over the opportunity. Adhering to a “listen-first” mantra will help you can gain valuable insights that inform how – or even if – you want to engage.
- Do be authentic. Social networks are human networks. Your online behaviour should reflect who you are in person.
- Do be consistent. When cultivating your social media presence, be consistent about the information contained in your profile and the content you share. If possible, establish brand guidelines for individual and group participation within Concordia so that you can build trust with and recognition from others whether you are on Twitter, Facebook or blog comment sections.
- Do be gracious. Applauding the good work of others and thanking others for their support are the cornerstones of any good community on or offline. Whether it is citing a source with a link in a blog post or retweeting be sure to credit and thank the original creator.
- Do disclose. Letting your online audiences know that you work for Concordia is essential if you are tweeting, blogging or posting favorably about Concordia online. A great way to do this is filling out your Twitter bio with a brief line about your Concordia affiliation, as well as including Concordia's name as an employer on your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Additionally, if you are supporting the efforts of a client, make sure to disclose your interest in the matter.
- Don't share confidential information about your department, clients, colleagues, partners, or competitors.
- Don't criticize your department, clients, colleagues, partners, or competitors.
- Don't spread rumors or false information about your department, clients, colleagues, partners, or competitors.
- Don't reveal personal information about any of your colleagues. Examples include tweeting side conversations or posting personal photos without permission.
- Don't misrepresent yourself or Concordia. Every action online is, at some level, traceable, so make sure the content that you are creating and impressions you are leaving, no matter how big or how small, are accurate and honest.
- Automated social-posting systems diminish the value of your presence by corroding real engagement. Ultimately, what motivates people online is similar to what motivates them offline.
- Consider sharing the email address used and password for key accounts. A manager, family member or friend could act on your behalf in the event of prolonged illness or worse.
*Source: Eloqua Social Media Playbook, Eloqua Corporation, 2009
At Concordia, social media includes any digital media (primarily websites and email campaigns) used for social interactions with students, researchers, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and other community members.
Guidelines for faculty and staff who request a Concordia social media account
Secure approval from University Communications Services
If you're interesting in creating a Concordia social media page or profile for your academic or administrative unit, the process to secure approval begins by contacting the University Communications Services (UCS) Social Media team to discuss your needs.
To help you prepare for this conversation, review the following guidelines on how a social media presence for Concordia's academic and administrative units is typically created and maintained:
- Define your goals. Before jumping in to social media for your department, program or office, take the time to reflect on what you intend to achieve by setting up the site and how this effort will contribute to achieving your communications objectives? Understanding this will help you choose the appropriate communications tool(s), create relevant content and determine the best way to reach your target audience(s).
- Identify a coordinator. Determine who will be the primary person responsible for monitoring the site, which includes reviewing posts, responding to questions from visitors, escalating or dispatching information to the appropriate individual, posting content and compiling a report on visitor statistics. Given the high speed at which information is generated on social media sites, especially when you have built a follower base in the thousands, the coordinator should monitor the site at least once a day. Successful social media sites are updated frequently, allow for easy engagement with users and adjust in response to timely events and problems. Ideally, the coordinator should also train a backup to maintain continuity of service, as well as ensure knowledge transfer and succession planning.
- Create a strategy. The more work you do on the front end, the more likely you are to create a successful social media presence. Define what you hope to accomplish, with whom you wish to engage, and what content you wish to share first, and then begin exploring social media tools.
- Listen. All social media platforms have their own standards, styles and expectations. By becoming a consumer of social media well before becoming a producer, you will learn how these communities work, what content is of most interest, what other organizations are talking about your topic, etc. Investing considerable time in researching how others are using social media will help you better plan your unique contribution to that platform.
- Choose the right channel for your audience Instead of trying to do everything at once, choose a channel that best meets the needs of your target audience. Find out which channel they are using so you can connect with them more easily. For example, if your target audience is primarily on Facebook, be sure to learn about how to tailor your content (includes images and videos) to respond to the needs and interests of those who expect to interact with you on this site.
- Name yourself. Create a profile name that clearly and concisely describes your unit and role. Where there is a character limit, such as in Twitter, please use Concordia+name or CU+name.
- Experiment. After you open your account, populate it for several weeks, then share it with a small group of individuals who can provide you with feedback before you promote its presence more widely.
- Launch. You're ready to communicate! Use traditional means, such as email lists and notices on your website, to notify your potential audiences that you have a social media presence. Also, notify other individuals and groups with social media presences and similar interests that your site is live, such as linking to these sites from yours and mentioning them in your posts. Include easy-to-find links to your social media presence on your website.
- Adjust. Monitor your site closely to determine the type of content that is popular versus that which is ignored or just plain cumbersome. All social media sites come with easy-to-use tracking tools so you can see which posts are viewed and shared the most, or have generated comments, etc. Be prepared to re-align your strategy in response to who is viewing your site. Post more content that people have liked in the past such as photos of student life. Another example is if a hash-tag is becomes the dominant one used for an event, start to use it too so people can see your updates.
Please contact us for suggestions/questions about these guidelines or for reporting behavior or content not consistent with these guidelines.