Last week I ran a session at the UCISA event Using Social Media to Communicate. The practical part of this session  included a task designed to explore attitudes to the use of social media by information services. Hopefully the opinions expressed might be of use to services (re)considering their use of social media.

Method: Participants (75) were asked to write comments about what information services  should/shouldn’t do with social media and position them along a line of preference.

Results: I’m presenting the results of this task in their nearly raw form (transcribed comments). The only interpretation I’ve attempted is to theme the responses into two major categories – policy and communications style. Feel free to add your own interpretation.

Disclaimer: the nearly-dormant part of my brain that I used to use when I was a scientist would like to emphasize that these results were produced as part of a task used as a device to stimulate discussion at a conference, not through rigourously-designed research.

IT services should…

Policy, rules and regulations

  • Allow staff to use social media as a tool in their working day
  • Encourage a policy of “light touch” regulation
  • Provide guidance/principles on use of tools
  • Lead by example – show best practice with technology
  • Try new technologies
  • Raise awareness
  • Explain social media to users
  • Provide examples of good practice
  • Use the tools and understand their significance and value
  • Enable use of social media, rather than “push out” what we think is best
  • Provide the infrastructure to allow flexibility
  • Get SMT buy in
  • Have an e-responsibility policy
  • Consider who is communicating on your behalf
  • Discuss best practice in relevant meetings
  • Know why we are doing it
  • Use it themseleves – individually or as a group
  • Motivate the university community

Communication style

  • Listen!
  • Engage
  • Show we care
  • Be personal and respond as you would in person
  • Learn how students really use our services day to day – not how we think they use them
  • Interact with clients/audience, engage them in dialouge
  • Make it two way; respond to customers
  • Invite feedback and discussion from users about services
  • Consider what their audience may want to know
  • Share knowledge and experiences
  • Use it as a collaborative platform
  • Give a balanced, human view
  • Be honest!
  • Encourage innovation and new ideas
  • Interact in conjunction with helpdesk systems
  • Engage staff – especially academics

Activities (a bonus sub-category I forgot to mention in the intro)

  • System status/alerts
  • Alerts
  • Provide service updates
  • Service status messages to keep users updated
  • Promote IT services to students and staff
  • Promote services
  • Feed any annoucements to as many channels as possible
  • Promote internal and external events
  • Integratge social media into service to improve “social support”
  • Help answer user questions – shape support/helpdesk
  • Respond to support requests
  • Give user access to support, or direct them to support channels

IT services shouldn’t…

Policy, rules and regulations

  • Restrict access
  • Dictate a social media policy
  • Prevent use of social media
  • Put barriers in the way of people being creative
  • Make rules and regulations about social networking
  • Try to restrict/limit use
  • Pro-actively monitor staff/student social media activity for “abuse of AUP”
  • Dictate the tools and restrict access
  • Give a sharp intake of breadth when social media is mentioned
  • Let technical infrastructure limitations get in the way
  • Be prescriptive
  • Choose the tools
  • Tell people what to/not to use
  • Rule with an iron fist – over-censoring, trying to control or restrict excessively
  • Try to stop people using tools
  • Dictate how the tools are used
  • Annoy people with stupid rules and regulations
  • Waste time evaluating
  • Think social media will go away
  • Try to setup an alternative Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Create poor tools as alternatives to those already in use
  • Make it so time-consuming it detracts from core business
  • Suggest it in the first place
  • Compromise security
  • Be an after thought

Communication style

  • Try to look “cool” and down with the students
  • Diss their staff
  • Leak personal information
  • Think they know best
  • Don’t try to be cool
  • Share social life with colleagues
  • Socialise
  • Personal use
  • Invading students social spaces
  • Inappropriate language/material
  • Respond inappropriately
  • Argue
  • Lie!
  • Spew ‘bad news’ from corporate accounts
  • Fill it with overly-complicated tech speak
  • Use as the only means of communication

(BTW, the event was good  – check the event coverage on Lanyrd for slides, write ups…)

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