Wayne State Web Team

Wayne State University Web Team Blog

Social media rules of engagement

As a university we send hundreds of messages via social media over multiple platforms every day. Just a few weeks ago I mentioned that 55 percent of all our Tweets are replies (opens new window). This number is larger than our other mediums, but only because that is the nature of Twitter.

I've been in a few meetings recently about social media and consulting with a growing number of departments on campus who are interested in using social media to accomplish their goals. It's unfortunate that initially most think of social media as just another medium to broadcast a message. While that is true, the real meat of social media is interacting with the community and building supporters. There is no "easy button" for that, and more importantly there are no hard and fast rules to accomplish it.

# Training wheels

Most of the discussions come down to when and how to appropriately engage with people who mention the institution or their department. I want to prefix this list by mentioning that I always advocate a person use the social media platforms personally before ever trying to represent the university. Every community has their own dynamics and it's better to use training wheels with your own account before starting to ride a two wheeler with a university account.

I've never documented my own "rules of engagement," but the other day I was following up with a lot of people on Twitter and decided to write down why and how I was going about it. I did this with the hope of sharing and refining on the list so others could use it as a resource. The list below was created while interacting on Twitter, but can be adapted to any social medium.

# Social media rules of engagement

  1. Don't be creepy.
  2. No need to reply to everyone.
  3. Take a step back and read the person's history. Do your homework.
  4. Verify. Is the person talking about Wayne State in Detroit? (Or where ever your dept is.)
  5. If someone is having a conversation, don't interject, ever.
  6. 18 hours is too long to reply, move on.
  7. Do as much leg work as possible before replying.
  8. Don't send the same "congratulations" message to multiple people in a row.
  9. Don't sell.
  10. Humor goes a loooooong way.
  11. Don't stress the small stuff.
  12. Spelling can be overlooked, grammar can't.
  13. Follow back if and only if you can confirm they are connected to the institution.
  14. No need to "thank" anyone for following you, ever.
  15. If you pause before posting a message, delete it. Move on.
  16. Message bombing (multiple rapid posts) are the easiest way to get your messages ignored.

Do you think I left anything important out? I'd love to hear about it.