Core social media channels: blogs instruction

Instruction statement

This instruction must be used when planning and maintaining an RMIT-affiliated blog. Ongoing management of the blog should be informed by the evidence-based approach provided here to ensure that University blogs are well-maintained with fresh, ongoing content of interest to an RMIT audience.

Exclusions

  • personal blogs
  • social networking sites set up on Google Apps for the purpose of internal project management and collaboration

Instruction steps and actions

Instruction (including key points)

Responsibility

Timeline

1. Planning

1.1 Check the RMIT Social Media Register for accounts that overlap with your area of interest or specialisation. If they exist, consider a collaboration rather than setting up a new account.

1.2 Complete the Request to Open an Official Social Media Account Form. If this form is not completed, your blog will not be recognised as an official RMIT presence and therefore not added to the Social Media Register. It will not be promoted or linked to via the corporate RMIT web presence.

Practically, the form helps you to plan and define a purpose for your blog by asking for a statement of purpose and technical requirements, measures of success, audience, proposed content and life cycle of the account. Completion of the form is designed to give shape and structure to your social media presence, avoiding the issues of abandoned blogs and outdated content by supporting a long-term approach.

1.3 Think about the audience you want to reach and define your goals accordingly. Blogging is considered a ‘Core’ social media channel. According to the Social Media Policy, Core channels should serve as key points of interaction with current students, prospective students, alumni, researchers, academic or professional staff with allocated resources.

1.4 If you want to use your blog for academic purposes, consult the Social Media for Teaching, Research and CollaborationInstruction. For marketing, promotion and general audience engagement, follow the Social Media at Event and Conferences Instruction and the Social Media for CampaignsInstruction.

1.5 Note that under the Social Media Policy, staff using social media at RMIT must undergo training. See the Opening an Official Social Media Presence Procedure for more information. See also developMe on the RMIT website for details on training sessions for Spokespeople and Associates at RMIT.

Spokespeople and associates

Before approval

2. Managing your time and your content

2.1 Make sure you have enough engaging topics within your field of expertise to justify an ongoing blog. The Nielsen Norman group has conducted evidence-based research into how users read on the web and how authors should adjust their web pages and blog posts to suit see (http://www.nngroup.com/topic/writing-web). This research include the following recommendations:

  • Be succinct : do not include more than 50% of the text you would use in a print publication;
  • Write ‘scannable’ text: do not subject users to lengthy, continuous blocks of text;
  • Aim for 500-800 words per post;
  • If you do need to include long information, use hypertext, subheadings and imagery to split it up.

2.2 Aim to post two to three times a week to keep content fresh and up to date with developments in your field. If time is an issue, have a few pre-prepared posts that are not time sensitive and can therefore be used at any time. Explore options around auto-scheduling of posts.

2.3 Additionally, familiarise yourself with RMIT’s Writing for the Web Instruction, particularly when presenting lengthy research and ideas. Recommendations include breaking long sentences into shorter ones or maintaining one idea per paragraph. Consider subheads and images (as long as copyright is not breached) to break up long posts. Of course, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. This should be adapted according to the relevant connecting blogs in your area.

2.4 Growing an audience base for blogs takes time. Make sure you have enough resources to devote to audience building, which may involve forging connections with other networks and people in the same field. Determine whether your special interest group is large enough to sustain the kind of time commitment required to maintain the blog.

2.5 If you aim to only post a few times, consider promoting your message instead through RMIT’s main channels. Blog Central RMIT’s official blog for all staff, is a good alternative, with a large, well-developed audience and editorial support.

2.6 Debate on social media can be robust, pointed and sometimes personal. Think about how to deal with stressful and difficult situations. Read the Communicating on Social Media Guideline for advice on handling inflamed situations.

Spokespeople and associates

Ongoing

3. Collaboration

3.1 Consider inviting colleagues and associates to contribute to the blog. Successful blogs often have several contributors (three to four), as group blogs stand a better chance of being maintained over time – if one person is drawn away, another can step in to update with fresh content. A group blog maintains its value if your time is at a premium.

3.2 Think about whether your content can add value to the aggregated blog content on the main RMIT website. Keep in mind the RMIT Strategic Plan, Transforming the Future, when drafting content. Devise a content strategy to promote and support this plan.

3.3 Promote your blog posts through other media. Do not rely on people to come to your blog. If you have associated Twitter and Facebook accounts, these can be used as ‘blog amplifiers’. Post links to your blog posts through your associated social media accounts to gain maximum exposure from interconnected networks.

3.4 Connect with trusted sources to swap ideas, posts and links so that your work is cross-posted on other relevant blogs and vice versa (choose connections carefully, and be mindful of reputational risks at all times). Promote your new connections through your blogroll (the hand-picked collection of links that normally resides within a blog’s sidebar).

Spokespeople and associates

Ongoing

4. Moderation

4.1 When moderating blog comments and posts from other users, follow RMIT’s Moderating User-Generated Content on Core Social Media Channels Procedure and Moderating Social Media Instruction.

4.2 Monitor comments on an ongoing basis. Respond professionally and courteously to opposing comments as soon as possible and delete abusive comments in a timely fashion. Encourage contributors to interact with readers who take the time to comment on the contributor’s post.

Spokespeople and associates

Ongoing

5. Administration

5.1 Keep a record of all login usernames and passwords. Share the details with your team and store them securely on your server in case you change jobs or become ill. Follow RMIT’s Password standard policy for choosing and storing passwords.

Spokespeople and associates

Ongoing

[Next: Supporting documents and information]