Part 5: Community Engagement
The secret sauce of social media is all about building relationships. And just like making friends at a party, forming relationships online takes time and effort to engage back-and-forth regularly. Here is how it’s done:
Monitor and manage your community.
Social media is a two-way conversation — ask questions, be an active listener and respect your audience. Regularly schedule time to monitor and engage with comments and reactions to your posts even after they are scheduled so that discussions don’t just start and end with you. Your audience wants the back-and-forth and expects you to be engaging.
We strive to create an online environment that is welcoming, mutually respectful and inclusive, consistent with the UC Davis Principles of Community. Civil and respectful dialogue promotes productive conversations with different ideas and points of view, and it’s ok to get in there and encourage some conversation. If it gets uncivil or uncomfortable, contact us for help thinking it through.
Engage outside of your own posts.
Go on, get out there! Visit other UC Davis social media channels and engage with the community at large by hitting the like button and commenting where you have something to add. Search and engage with posts around key hashtags. Each of these interactions adds up and pulls the community into your own social posts for more.
Don’t be stingy with your likes and comments with your community.
If someone goes so far as to leave a thoughtful comment, like or share a post, you should acknowledge that! Don’t hold back on commenting back on positive things, and use that like button with anything that is relevant and positive.
Keep your DMs under control.
Users are turning to direct messaging to brands even before doing a Google search. While this can feel overwhelming, it is also a great opportunity to directly communicate accurate information about your unit to individuals. Keep an eye on those messages and try to maintain a quick response time (during business hours) to maintain a solid rapport with audience members. In some cases, you may also set up automatic replies for generic questions or times that fall outside of regular business hours. Don’t be shy of setting hours of response times to set realistic expectations.
We recommended keeping a running document with answers to frequently asked questions that you get from your audience. Even if this is not content that you can make publicly available, it can help streamline the correspondence and response time for your staff members internally.
Pinning = winning.
If you want a particular post to stay at the top of your feed on your profile page, pin a post by using the drop-down menu option. It’s a great tool to feature content that you want to get as many eyes on it as you can. This works for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Are retweets endorsements?
Legally, it’s still unclear if something like a retweet or reshare is the equivalent of an endorsement. However, it could be interpreted that way. Before you retweet/reshare do your due diligence and make sure that the content is coming from a credible source and doesn’t have any reputation of being discriminatory, inflammatory or against your values. Make sure it’s a real source and not a bot.
If it’s not nice, don’t say it.
Keep that to your own personal account, if at all. For university accounts, keep your commentary supportive, positive and try to help solve problems. Avoid getting defensive if criticized – we call this having an "elephant skin" on our team. There will always be a critic and we accept that we will never make 100% of the folks online 100% happy.
Negative or sensitive comments.
If you see something that is negative, threatening, or critical, first take a deep breath. Second, take a screenshot and grab the link. Third, don’t delete or hide the comment (yet). Assess the post. Is it life-threatening? If so – stop and call the police immediately and share the information you have gathered with them. If it isn't life-threatening, ask yourself:
- Does it put an individual at risk by sharing personal information (including the original poster)? If yes, delete the post.
- Does it single out and criticize an individual connected to your department/unit/program? If yes, you may need to flag it for your leadership to address it. You can hide the comment until you figure out if, and how, you will respond. Remember, people are allowed to criticize and you shouldn't hide a comment just because it's not positive – it creates the optics that you are erasing negative feedback. It could be an opportunity to provide resources or help to that individual, and you might need to direct message them for more information. If a serious allegation is made online escalate it through your supervisors for additional support.
- Does it use excessive explicative language, or make racist statements? If so, you should feel free to hide those comments or delete them if they crosse a line that becomes combative or unproductive to the discourse of the community.
- Is the comment completely off-topic? You are within your rights to delete the comment per our university commenting policy. But do this sparingly to ensure you remain open to public discourse.
Get a gut check.
You are not in this alone. If you feel uncomfortable, your spidey-sense goes off, and something feels negative or weird about a comment, reach out to our team. We can help assess the situation and engage legal, student health, our media team, police, etc. for extra support.