Here are some general guidelines if you are thinking about representing the College on social media platforms.
Before you start
Know why you are going to engage with social media
It is useful to ask what you hope to achieve through your chosen social media platform: Who is your audience? What are you going to talk about? Do you have enough to talk about?
Don’t just set up an account without knowing why. You can always use the current College social media networks to get your messages out, see the Social media directory.
If you’re sure you want to get started then have some content ready for the first few days/weeks - some tweets, some posts, some events, notifications etc. Information should be interesting, relevant and useful (not always all three!).
Do you have adequate time to dedicate to this? Social media is an active conversation with your audience. You must be prepared to engage with them.
Branding/logos/icons - Don’t use the Imperial College London Logo or logos already being used by the College on exisitng social media platforms – it becomes confusing for users. Avoid creating your own logo as these can easy break College style guidelines. A simple image is usually a safe option. Think about how the image will look when added to your profile – squashed, cropped, too detailed? Go for simple and clear. If you need some advice please get in touch Joanna McGarry: email@example.com
What name will you use? In many cases this might be straightforward, your department name for example. Depending on the purpose and the platform you may need to think carefully about your name and make sure it’s clear immediately for users. Avoid using 'IC' as it is not the correct College name.
Know your platform. What are you going to use? Twitter, Facebook, College blogs, Google +, LinkedIn...the face of social media continues to evolve and each platform can suit different purposes at different times. Make sure you select an appropriate platform for your target audience.
Try it out yourself. If you have never used your chosen platform before and are going to be involved in or responsible for the management of your College account you might like to try using it for yourself first.
You do not need to ask for approval to represent Imperial on a social media platform. But do let us know what you’ve set up. We’ll add you to the list of College social media networks and follow, like, add and join you!
Think about who you're posting as. If you already have personal social media accounts, you might want to create a new profile that you can use for College accounts. Make it clear if you are writing for Imperial, or writing personally.
Say who you are. If you are managing an official College account it might be appropriate to tell your audience who you are. For example the biog of the College @imperialspark account gives the names of all of the press officers who are tweeting: "Imperial College London science news - by Research Comms team, Laura, Colin, Franca, Maxine, Hayley, Laura & Kate"
Consider your style. Decide how formal/informal your voice needs to be. For example, you might want to use a conversational style when tweeting and give your tweets a bit of character. However if you are posting a blog about important departmental news then an informational style might be more appropriate. The content should be authentic otherwise it will quickly be rejected by your audience.
Be prepared to answer questions and monitor comments. Unanswered questions stick out like a sore thumb. This can become time consuming so make sure you have enough time to dedicate to keeping your social media relationships thriving. Your users may become frustrated if their questions are seemingly ignored.
Don’t ignore negative comments. If someone is complaining try to answer them positively. Don't pick fights! Being defensive might invite further complaint and encourage others to join in. Social media can be a very helpful source of feedback.
Make sure the information you post is accurate. You might not know everything about a topic so get your facts verified and don’t make things up because you don’t have time to check. If you do make a mistake try to be the first to correct it.
Don’t break copyright rules. Make sure you have permission to post other peoples content. If you're posting any of Imperial’s images onto an external site, check that you have permission to do so (the images may only be licensed to be used on the Imperial domain).
Get rid of irrelevant spam. Use your discretion to remove advertisements, spam, and comments that are hateful, obscene, or defamatory.
If someone from an external media organisation contacts you about a post on your social media platform, please contact one of the College media officers for some advice and guidance.
What is not considered to be good behaviour?
Abusing other people’s privacy. Do not post private information about other people.
Being rude or defamatory. Try to be courteous at all times even if you do not agree with a user’s comments. Don’t behave in a way that could bring the College into disrepute.
Equally, comments from users that are offensive or libellous (e.g. swearing , defamatory, abusive, racist, illegal), are not acceptable and you should remove them straight away.
Don’t spam other social media sites with advertisements and marketing about the College. It can become irritating. Shameless promotion is generally unwanted content.
Please make sure that you have read and understood relevant College policies. Below you'll find the policies that relate to the representation of the College on social media networks:
Need some help?
If you need to have a chat about what you’d like to do or need some advice about your current social media platform(s), please get in touch with Jesse Alter, Digital Content and Social Media Manager.
Go to our Social Directory page for a selection of recognised College social media accounts.