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Social Media Strategy and Guidelines


SM Guidelines

Goals:

  • Build at least two strong social networks per service
  • Build engagement
  • Increase website traffic through Social Networks

Objectives:

  • Each service should designate at least one Social Media staffer, who will be responsible for Social Media networks and also will be accountable to RFE/RL’s Social Media Guidelines
  • Every service will focus on two or more Social Networks and build a strong network with a high degree of engagement
  • All account graphics to be optimised so they match current approved branding
  • Every Social Media site that is no longer supported by services must be closed
  • Language services must monitor social media insights in order to make informed choices
  • Quality before quantity - think through every post

Guidelines

Social Media Staffer

Each service must have at least one social media person who will be responsible for Social Media and also will monitor activities on Social Media, check insights, be aware of what is going on in the service and be aware of the latest trends. Social media content could and should be a team effort, but this person monitors / manages it to give the social media sites cohesion and a voice.
Admin access for Social Network accounts should be held by at least two members of the team.

Activities

Facebook

All Facebook updates must be written “natively”, specifically for Facebook (i.e. not pulled in automatically from RSS or Twitter, not put just link to some article from website).

Pages should be checked several times a day for:

  • Inappropriate comments, photos or links from users - these should be removed and a polite message left from us explaining why they've been removed
  • Other posts from users which deserve a response - we should reply to a reasonable proportion of user comments regularly, as this builds engagement and a sense of community
  • Potential story leads/contacts - we should either get in touch with these users via private message, or post alternative means to contact us (e.g. phone/email) so their lead can be followed up

Remember about Facebook guidelines.

Twitter

All updates must be produced by hand, specifically for Twitter (i.e. no cross-posting from Facebook).
Monitor (if it is possible) mentions of Twitter account name and reply to users who mention LS Twitter content (if it required or appropriate).
The content placed on social-networking websites must adhere to the Company’s journalistic standards, including the Professional Code and the Conflict of Interest Policy. (see Internet Policy)

Tone

All messages posted on Facebook or Twitter must have a friendly, informal tone, misspellings and poor grammar are not allowed.

Broadcasts and publications shall at all times maintain a calm and moderate tone and project a model of civilized, reasoned discourse and a respect for the human rights of all persons. Broadcasts and publications shall not contain religious, ethnic, socioeconomic, or cultural slurs upon any person or group and shall observe common standards of etiquette and taste. (see Professional Code)

Facebook is a people-driven platform. Let your audience know there’s a person behind the posts by having the Page editor use a personal tone. Posts with a personal tone or clever language receive 120% above average engagement.

Building and engaging a community

The main goal of Social Networks is to build engagement.

Increasing our number of Facebook "likes" and Twitter followers does not, in itself, mean we’re increasing our level of engagement with the audience.
In practice, a good measure of engagement is to monitor the level of

  • Replies to our tweets / replies to our Facebook postings, especially when these replies are editorially valuable (e.g. story leads, new contacts)
  • Twitter retweets / Facebook shares
  • "Likes" for Facebook postings

On Facebook we should avoid high numbers of low-interest postings. Instead we should aim for a small number of posts each day, picked for the engagement they're likely to generate - e.g.:

  • Questions / talking points. Posts that include a prompt for conversation or a question receive 70% above average engagement. When readers ask questions, use the “reply” feature on comments to answer back. Posts that include responses from the news page receive 14% more comments than posts which did not include replies.
  • Stories with a strong level of impact/controversy/quirkiness (Facebook users love to share humorous and emotive stories in particular - "things that make me laugh or make me angry")
  • Sporadic "behind the scenes" insights/photos which give Facebook users a sense of being on the "inside track"

Images on Facebook (on your timeline or cover photo) are a proven means of increasing engagement. Change your cover image frequently to tell your evolving story. Your profile and cover photos are a reflection of your journalistic brand. Choose photos that represent you and your work best. Share Stories Visually with Photos and Videos to Grab Users' Attention - photos receive +50% likes than non-photo posts.

Facebook page must have at least one admin who:

  • Understands Facebook Insights
  • Checks these figures weekly and shares successes with the rest of the newsroom

With Pages Insights, you can:

  • Assess the performance of your Page, see which countries/cities like your Page the most, learn what content resonates with your audience, and optimize how you publish to your audience to grow your reach and engagement
  • View feedback (likes, reach and people talking about this) on each individual post to better understand what content your community finds most appealing
  • To learn more, go to www.facebook.com/insights or click “See All” in the Insights section of your Page

On Twitter, users are generally more receptive to frequent posts, especially where a story is breaking and new angles / pieces of information are emerging in real time.

RFE/RL accounts for Individuals


RFE/RL journalists (including, but not limited to, reporters, editors, analysts, broadcasters, and Service Directors) may maintain individual pages on social-networking sites. However, the content of such pages shall at all times adhere to the Professional Code and the Conflict of Interest Policy. The personal social-networking pages of RFE/RL journalists should not include any content that could undermine RFE/RL’s reputation for balance and objectivity. See Internet Policy, Personal pages.

Those with a personal profile:

  • Should not refer to it directly on air ("be my friend on Facebook")
  • Should not have a program name or the word "RFE/RL" in their profile name
  • Should exercise care when accepting or making friend requests
  • Should successfully run an unbranded (i.e. "personal") account for several months first (Twitter's technical set-up allows this unbranded account to later be renamed, turning it into a RFE/RL account, without losing any followers)
  • Should be careful with statements. Make a difference between their own and official. (See Internet Policy, Personal pages.)

Facebook/Twitter Accounts for Programs

An individual programme on a radio or TV may launch its own Facebook page or Twitter account, but only if:

  • There is a clear rationale, agreed by the editor, for why that programme/strand's activity could not be more effectively reflected on the main local/regional account
  • There is sufficient resource to keep it regularly updated and checked

Crisis Management

The best solution is not to delete problematic tweets or posts (as this can create more of a firestorm than leaving them live), but to apologize/clarify as quickly as possible afterwards.

Closing an Account

If an account is no longer needed, or has become dormant and will not be reactivated in the near future, it is a good idea to close it.

Next steps:

  • Post a message announcing to users that the account will be closing soon - and specify a date
  • Suggest alternative places where users might find similar content

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