Social Media Strategy

A social media strategy is a communication strategy.

A PDF version of this document is available.

The William & Mary social media strategy contains many overlapping components:

  1. Purpose
  2. Values
  3. Policy
  4. Oversight
  5. Brand Management
  6. Techniques
  7. Content
1. Purpose

The general purpose of social media is to:

  • reach your audience in a different way
  • have a different sort of conversation
  • engage people without expecting them to come to your website
  • offer an authentic voice

At William & Mary, the purpose of social media is to:

  • support a lifetime connection with alumni (which translates into engagement)
  • recruit prospective students
  • inform and educate
  • offer customer service to campus and the public
  • support the academic mission of teaching, research and scholarship
  • encourage earned media for the university
  • support internal communication (e.g., with the on campus community)
  • build community
  • reinforce the W&M brand and messaging
2. Values

The social media community at W&M values:

  • active feedback from audiences and stakeholders
  • conversation, the exchange of ideas, reflection
  • user‐generated content
  • content that is "passed on" via retweets, likes and comments
  • the idea that W&M does not control what’s said out there; we are not the only voice and that’s legit
  • communication that offers a sense of place (a uniqueness for W&M channels that differentiates us from the other social media outlets)
  • concrete and substantive dialogue
  • fun! (the chance to show a culture beyond our reputation)
  • innovation (we are a place of firsts; historic but cutting edge)
  • responsiveness to customers
  • integration with
    • Facebook and Twitter badges on departmental/unit websites
    • Increased social media options within Cascade
3. Policy

General policy‐like language related to social media at W&M includes the following:

  • we do not use or allow comments that contain hate language
  • we do not allow posts that would be offensive to a reasonable person
  • we do not use profanity, or placeholders of profanity, in posts
  • we encourage reasonable dialogue and offer a balanced perspective and multiple points of view
  • we are cautious about comments that are personal attacks against public figures, and particularly against members of the W&M community

Emergency communication is the purview of the W&M Emergency Management Team (EMT) and the following applies to the use of social media for emergency communications:

  • the EMT will use @WMNews to deploy emergency messages
  • in the case of an emergency, managers of W&M social media channels should share/retweet exactly what is posted by @WMNews
  • Managers of W&M social media channels should not:
    • post their own emergency updates or versions that differ from what is posted by @WMNews
    • reinterpret, add to or delete from language used by @WMNews

General communication guidelines already in place also apply to social media:

  • members of the W&M community who manage social media channels on behalf of the university are not official spokespersons; Brian Whitson, Associate Vice President, Communications and University Relations, is the official spokesperson at W&M
  • if you are unsure about whether or not a social media post will be mistakenly viewed as an official announcement from W&M, check first with University Relations
  • the policy you have in place about how sensitive topics are communicated should also cover social media; be cautious about posts related to condolences, tragedies, personal and private concerns, etc.
4. Oversight

Creative Services provides oversight for the use of social media on campus and consulting on the use of social media for strategic communication. Strategy, guidelines, policies and best practices are shared via the Creative Services website and the Social Media User Group (SMUG).

Creative Services sponsors:

Oversight from Creative Services also includes:

  • responsibility for participation in Social Stream; we include channels with an official affiliation with W&M or a sponsorship by Creative Services
  • monitoring activity (or inactivity) on channels that are highlighted in Social Stream
  • contacting social media channel managers about inactive streams
  • advice on the strategic use of social media for communications
5. Brand Management

When you use social media on behalf of a W&M office, program or organization, your channel should reinforce the W&M brand. Consider the following:

  • future visual identity standards may influence badges, icons, profile pics and avatars in use on channels that represent W&M
  • editorial quality includes limiting typos, grammatical errors and subpar content
  • everything you post on social media has the potential to affect W&M’s reputation; enhancing to or detracting from the institutional brand
  • whenever possible, add @williamandmary to your social media posts (this adds legitimacy and ties your channel to a strong brand)
6. Techniques

Creative Services will continue to focus on the following:

  • systematic use of content tied to central themes and messages of W&M
  • measurement and return on investment
  • experimentation with Facebook ads and splash pages
  • crowdsourcing and user generated content
  • enhancing live events with a social media component
7. Content

Content is king. Your social media channel is a communication channel. What you post is your content (photos, words, links). Make it great.

Goals related to content include:

  • increasing user‐generated content (particularly for the W&M YouTube channel)
  • new features (quizzes, polls, features, contests, etc.)
  • daily posts of photos to W&M’s Flickr site
  • promotion of the W&M Flickr group for sharing photos related to W&M
  • searching and highlights with Social Stream
  • increased use of hashtags by campus channels
  • brainstorming new ways to use social media (e.g., live tweets on home page; more personas, etc.)
  • experimentation with Google+ and Pinterest
  • expanded tips and specials on Foursquare