A few personal take-aways from the first day of this conference, the purpose of which is explained by its title.
Clarity of purpose in using Social Media
- Use your strategy to decide who is the audience you wish to reach – then decide what role social media might play in the portfolio of communication tools available.
- Don’t do social media just because it’s there – decide beforehand what you want to achieve and then whether and how social media will help. If your target audience is the nine other experts in the world then Twitter is not for you!
Some lessons I extracted from the first panel session (Readers, visitors, users and audiences in the age of social media) which addressed the challenge of negative feedback (http://www.smke.org/dealing-with-negative-feedback-a-social-media-challenge/)
- For most academics, a tirade of negative feedback is very rare – most followers of academic blogs and tweets are fellow academics, quiet, reasonable and unassuming types.
- How do you monitor your web presence? Who is watching when, for example, the USA begins its working day? A consequence of not paying attention is that a debate can get underway with the appearance that you and your organisation are not responding, not paying attention, or perhaps ignoring the evolving discussion.
- All this stuff is ‘on record’ (if only because somebody somewhere will screengrab it) – so (in general) don’t leave (real) negative feedback unanswered.
- If you plan to defer your response in order to have time to think it through, then at least tell people you’ll respond soon. Don’t just let it go quiet (unless you’re deliberately choosing to ignore it)
- Check the facts – sometimes the posters of negative feedback have missed something (or are deliberately ignoring something)
- Think about the flow – is this one negative message among a flow of hundreds of tweets, or is it one in a trickle of ten? One in a thousand may get washed away by the timeline.
- Check the background of the source of the feedback. Do they make a habit of this? Do they have an axe to grind? Or are they usually thoughtful and agreeable?
- Think hard about how your reply will be viewed – as your individual response, as a response from your department, or as a response from the institution? Not what the reality is – but how it will be, or might be perceived by the audience.
- If you take the debate out of the public eye, for example by contacting the people involved privately, be prepared for your ‘private’ conversation to go public. They may choose to publish it.
- If you’re trying to decide whether the issue needs to be referred elsewhere in your organisation, one way to think about it is this – how would you respond on this topic to a journalist?
- And maybe the best bits of advice: Pause before you reply – and get a second opinion before you respond.
See the site at www.smke.org