Social media – such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and so on – are important channels of communication and also archiving. For TASA, one of our key goals is to promote and celebrate Australian sociology, and properly utilising social media are crucial in continuing to achieve this goal. Australian research excellence measures also increasingly make use of social media analytics such as ‘Altmetrics’ to reveal the reach and impact of research. Social media can be used to connect with our own members (internal comms), extend our reach to future members (recruitment), share the work of our members (showcase), and raise the profile sociology as a discipline to a much wider public (disciplinary advocacy). These functions align with our broader communications objectives.
This document maps out our social media strategy and guidelines for implementing this strategy.
TASA currently has an active and wide-reaching social media presence. Our main social media channel is Twitter. At the time of writing (5/11/18) our @AustSoc account has 3385 followers, and more than 25,000 tweets. Our conference hashtags (eg #TASA2016, #TASA2017) are very active, and create a ‘backchannel’ of conference chatter, networking, and also serve to disseminate what happens in our conference beyond its boundaries. For instance, #TASA2016 had almost 4000 posts with 564 unique contributors. Almost all of our current Exec use Twitter. We also have an Association-level account for postgraduates (@tasapostgrads), our journals, and many of our Thematic Groups also have separate accounts. We also have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AustSoc) that we also use for live video streaming at the conference, alongside a YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3WCzD4z9DiTLTempQrMUeg), and a SoundCloud account (https://soundcloud.com/australian-sociology-tasa) that are used as archives of audio and video recordings.
3.0 Guidelines – Association Level, @AustSoc
- Access – The @AustSoc account is managed by the Executive Officer, with access also given to the Public Engagement Portfolio Leader and other Exec as determined by the Exec. During the annual conference, the Chair and/or delegate of the LOC will also be given access to tweet about the conference and post to the Facebook page.
- Scope – Tweets should focus on our primary goal of promoting and celebrating Australian sociology, especially the work of TASA members, and drawing attention to high-impact activity by our members. There should be three main ‘types’ of tweets:
- Showcasing – Linking to member publications, media appearances, etc.
- Promoting TASA Activities – Calls for papers, advertising seminars sponsored by TASA, drawing attention to TG activity (RTs or quote-tweets of TG tweets), advertising scholarships, reminding people of deadlines, etc.
- Job advertisements – members can ask use to promote job advertisements for free. Non-members are asked to pay for full coverage (including coverage in the newsletter and regular tweeting/RTing) we will tweet all job advertisements relevant to our members given their importance for our large number of postgraduate members and members looking for work.
- Tone – Tweets should be professional in tone, and not appear to take side in potentially contentious issues. This includes RTs as these can be interpreted as an endorsement and do amplify the reach of the original tweet. Where there is uncertainty around a particular post or how to respond to a post, the EO can consult with the relevant Exec for input and advice.
- Elections – During TASA Exec election time, tweets related to the election should be limited to encouraging members to vote, rather than elevating or amplifying individual members as this could be seen as favouritism.
- Frequency and Timing – Importantly, quantity is not everything. While tweets should be regular, with at least a tweet every two to three days, it’s important not to post or RT too frequently, as this can dilute the impact of individual tweets and split attention. At worst, too many tweets might get us muted or unfollowed. Tweets should be posted or scheduled for optimum times, spread out to avoid the appearance of intense activity in limited bursts.
- Repetition of tweets should be kept to a minimum, with two to three ‘ICYMI’ (In Case You Missed It) re-posts maximum, spread over several days or weeks. We don’t want to ‘spam’ our regular followers with constant re-posts.
- Not all tweets we are tagged in need to be RT’d.
- Structure and Format – Wherever possible, tweets should tag members, include a link to more information, and/or include some kind of visual element – a photo or a screenshot of a flyer, for instance.
4.0 Guidelines – Thematic Group Level
- Scope – The TASA Exec encourages all Thematic Groups to maintain a social media presence, with Twitter being the social media platform of choice, but this is an optional commitment.
- Responsibility – Thematic Group Convenors (TGCs) are responsible for managing their group’s social media accounts, and adhering to these guidelines.
- Access – To ensure continuity between TGCs and to avoid accounts being lost over time, the login details for Thematic Group Twitter accounts are to be managed by the TASA Executive Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please consult the EO if you wish to change the password for your account or retrieve it. We also strongly recommend that a generic account be created to manage login details (via gmail.com for instance) so that login details for these accounts can be passed on to new TGCs when transitions occur. Tying a social media account to a personal email address makes it difficult to pass on to new TGCs.
- Activity – Accounts should be relatively active, without more than a few weeks passing between tweets or re-tweets (RTs). Ideally, tweets will draw attention to the work of members of the TG, advertise upcoming TG events, and potentially spark conversation around topics of interest to TGs, by posing an open-ended question or asking for responses to an idea or article.
- Tone – Tweets should be professional in tone, remembering that by proxy the TG accounts also represent TASA more broadly. These accounts should be separate from personal accounts for individuals.
- Style – Over time, we are hoping to develop some stylistic consistency across our TG accounts with profile pictures and banners that capture something about the group, but also reference a common unifying TASA logo or scheme.
- Advice – The Public Engagement Portfolio Leader can provide guidance and feedback on initial setup and accessing Twitter’s analytics functions to see how effective your tweets are in engaging your followers.