Companies can successfully leverage social platforms for competitive advantage. To do so, they simply need to help people do what they naturally do on social platforms: engage in interactions with other people that they could not undertake in the offline world. (Piskorski 5)
The following social media plan is approved by the RID Headquarters Communications Team and Board of Directors in order to address the needs of the RID membership, who are very active on social media, and to align our online presence with RID’s professional standards of transparency and strategic planning. The creation of this social media strategy was guided by the Board of Director’s values of Transparency and ROOTS and supported by previous RID social media strategy proposals and Jan Piskorski’s book: A Social Strategy: How We Profit from Social Media.
The purpose of this policy is for RID to repair and build trust and authority by controlling our message and standardizing our internal communications processes. This policy seeks to provide more permanent guidelines for social media use, providing support to RID’s overall communication strategy at an opportune time, with the induction of the 2017-2019 Board of Directors and the development of a new Strategic Plan. This policy lists clear expectations for the functionality of social media and the involvement of the governance structure and RID HQ personnel on official social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The actions outlined in this policy are based on current professional social media practice standards.
“1) A viable social strategy seeks to increase a company’s profitability, 2) by improving interactions between people 3) if they undertake a set of corporate functions for free.” (Piskorski 143).
The framework for this strategy reiterates the consequences of our posts on membership perception. As we foster a more positive relationship with our members and a better reputation online, there emerge several “rules of the road” for social media conduct. These policies help RID to have a stronger public relations foundation, allow members to see added value to their sponsorship of the organization, and encourage members to continue their endorsement of RID through referring contacts, attending events, and participating in governance.
We acknowledge that RID staff is made up of individuals with different areas and levels of expertise, however, the communication strategy here stated is based on a unified approach to our members. When individuals post in lieu of the RID communications team, it has several negative implications:
- That the communications team does not have all of the information they need to be able to do their job, which reflects poorly on RID’s internal organization and communication.
- That the individual officers of RID are creating redundancy in the communications and that they are not focused on their own jurisdictions by being involved in social media.
- That the organizational communication strategy is on the defense – worried about putting out fires rather than promoting positive materials and letting the membership craft our message instead of taking control of our own branding.
- It risks the privacy of the individual posting.
Example 1: On June 9, 2017, the Reviews page for RID Facebook, which allows members to rate the organization without our moderation, was disabled because the majority of reviews were personal attacks against the organization. Because the page is ours to regulate, this is not censorship but fair process to the members to make sure that accurate and positive information is being distributed through the channels we control. Similarly, when placing moderation filters on our Facebook page, members posts are held in order for RID to craft a response and create smooth and consistent messaging. Of course, if RID is tagged on members’ personal pages, we cannot control that information and members can post whatever they choose. It is critical, however, that RID takes ownership and accountability for our official image on social media.
Example 2: On June 12, 2017, RID HQ posted an announcement, which attracted visitor comments. The response to these comments highlights several situations we wish to avoid in our social media strategy. First, redundancy of information – the Board communication was accurately posted and already addressed the issue the visitor’s issue. The same information was then reposted by a staff member, which was unnecessary. Second, ideally, the conversation would have ended on June 12; instead RID HQ Leadership resurfaced the issue 12 days later- this resulted in tension. Third, the conversation became antagonistic, using personal examples and attacks instead of deferring to official Board communications. The redundant sources of information ultimately showed confusion among roles and responsibilities, which leaving members confused as to what information is accurate.
- Organizational profiles for Facebook will be created, using the official RID email address associated with Board members and Member Section (MS) chairs, i.e. the RID Board profile will be linked to the head of the BOD Communications Subcommittee (firstname.lastname@example.org?). This is professional and positional; meaning when the person transitions from the position the profile remains the same. For the person, it also eliminates any social media confusion when they transition from their official RID position.
- Official profiles will include: The BOD (1), the Executive Director (1) the Board of Editors (1), RID Headquarters (1), Regional Representatives (5), MS Chairs (11). More profiles may be created for the Board President, DMAL, or MAL if needed.
- MS chairs upon receiving official RID emails will be required to a) read the social media policy, b) sign a non disclosure agreement, and c) maintain correspondence with headquarters for the transition of account information at the end of their term of service.
Roles and Responsibilities
- The HQ Communications Team, individuals with official profiles (listed above), and other designated individuals (Region and MS groups often have a small team of 3-4 social media administrators) are responsible for posting any responses, corrections, announcements, etc. that are necessary, pertaining to their individual groups.
- The HQ Communications Team will post benign information (acknowledgement of grievances, Board communications, and publication information) autonomously.
- The HQ Communications Team will provide cursory monitoring for RID-managed Facebook groups, meaning that we will keep track of the level of activity within each group, contact administrators with relevant content, repost noteworthy content, support the transition of administrators, and address inquiries or issues that are brought to our attention.
- The HQ Communications Team and the BOD Communications Subcommittee will provide support in addressing individual cases of member backlash, inappropriate content, or non-strategic use by RID officers.
Standards of Professionalism
- We will adhere to the standard of posting existing official RID content in response to inquiries, not getting involved in online arguments, and reviewing strategic posts with the Communications Team.
- According to professional standards, we will address queries and comments within 24 hours.
- To maintain our value in providing equal access and to respect RID’s uniquely diverse membership, we will make sure that any links that are posted are either bilingually accessible or that we state what language the link is in.
- We will maintain control of our messaging. If someone accuses RID of posting something improper, we will deal with it quickly but in a level-headed and rational manner.
Civility Policy for Members
The RID Facebook page is a place where the world comes to learn more about our association, our profession, and the people who are in our community. We expect this place to be free of hostility. We expect that a healthy and responsible attitude will accompany all communications. We expect that diversity of opinion should be cultivated and encouraged, and that mutual respect for each other should be present in all interactions. We recognize that everyone is different, that we all have different backgrounds, experiences, frames of reference, and biases – but if we disagree, we should constrain our disagreements to the issues, without resorting to personal attacks. We do not tolerate defamatory remarks to either other individuals, or to the organization. Anything posted or shared on the main RID Facebook page (or the regional pages) which does not meet these standards will be subject for deletion. We will attempt to contact the person responsible for the content, if possible. Repeated violations will result in banning people from our page.
“There exist powerful strategic trade-offs that cause two or more social solutions to be less effective when they are provided by the same platform. To avoid these negative implications, social platforms will refrain from copying solutions provided by other types of platforms. When this happens, different types of platforms with non-overlapping solutions will coexist.” (Piskorski 3).
Each social media platform managed by RID will have a separate purpose and strategy. Our professional standards include the use of all social media platforms, not just Facebook, therefore each platform will have its own mission statement, described below. With the establishment of this strategy among our existing platforms, we will pave the way to exploring new avenues of communication (LinkedIn, Glide, and Snapchat are possible avenues for increasing our social media presence). Creation of a new platform should be approved and administered by the HQ Communications Team and the BOD Communications Subcommittee. As it currently stands:
- Facebook is used for general announcements and member blasts, HQ communications, advertisements, Regional correspondence, and catch-all communications.
- Hootsuite is used for managing and scheduling social media activity. It is good for sending out content to multiple platforms, however it does not have the unique posting capabilities of the individual platforms and cannot post to Instagram. It is also helpful for creating drafts of content to be scheduled at a later date.
- Instagram is used to archive organization photos and promote conference activities, staff vignettes, and social media campaigns and hashtags.
- Mailchimp is used for email marketing. Currently it is used for general blasts from the RID Headquarters and from the Board, but it could be used for more specific targeting of advertisements to different Regions, or notifications to specific member sections, etc.
- Twitter is used for Board of Directors communications, scholarly resources, and news announcements.
- Youtube is used as a video archive but has the potential for use as a promotional tool and a blog platform.
In order to create more value for members and attract more positive participants (which will help drown out negative social media activity), we will be more proactive about soliciting content. We will regularly solicit content from MS chairs and AC presidents, and remind them to record and/or produce write-ups about anything of note in their respective groups: events, speakers, announcements, etc. This content can be shared spontaneously on the RID official FB page, in the Regional pages, in the MS pages, E-News, or VIEWS. We can also use material from Views and E-News as teasers on our social media accounts. By setting up a year-in-advance communications plan, with scheduled contacts for the MS Chairs and AC Presidents, as well as the Regional representatives, they will know what is expected, and when. We could also publish this calendar, so that members are aware of what’s upcoming.
“1) That the social engagement we facilitate is directly related to the strategic goals of the company, 2) That we seek to help people establish interactions with each other that they would otherwise have a hard time entering into. 3) That the two benefits co-occur and are tightly integrated” (Piskorski 139-140).
Two standards related to the RID brand that are particularly relevant to our social media include Transparency and Roots. With these values in mind, our social media engagement can further RID’s mission to “encourage the growth of the profession, educate the public about the vital role of interpreters and transliterators, work to ensure equal opportunity and access for all individuals, …advocate for best practices in interpreting, and encourage professional development for practitioners” (RID mission statement). RID’s presence on social media platforms allows for dialogical space for interpreting practitioners and clients. It creates an interactive medium for exchanging ideas about organizational activity and interpreting perspectives across an extremely diverse membership. Social media allows RID to garner support from members, thereby accomplishing organizational objectives with increased population sampling (reducing the degree of separation between the organization and the members), increased speed and effectiveness, and a bottom-up approach to member relations.
Transparency means breaking down silos of communication – making sure to identify the messenger and the source of the message and being able to streamline messaging to have a unified brand. In general, if a member posts a question publicly on social media, they are looking for a public response. We can safely assume that many others have the same question, whether they are on social media or not. It is better, then, to respond as an organization to the membership rather than to individuals through commenting, except in the case of providing correction for misinformation. Our responses to the membership can be crafted from Board communications in order to remain uniform and factual. In this way we can effectively control information flow to the membership.
Social media allows us to have private messaging when direct responsiveness is preferred to address specific member concerns. It is also appropriate to allow people to have discussion space on our page, as it will encourage the expression of opposing viewpoints. While responsiveness is crucial, addressing antagonistic posts risks damaging our reputation. There will always be naysayers on social media and they are entitled to discussion space as long as it is civil. If they bring up specific concerns that are answered by Board communication, we may provide that. If they have other concerns, they may be best addressed with the Board in order to send out a release to the general membership. This document outlines what content should be shared with the membership, specifically that which is already vetted and published. With any new social media promotion of the organization, this can be referred to for guidance about appropriate information distribution. If a message is pending to post on social media but is not a benign or approved communication, the Communications Team may review it to confirm that it is appropriate before posting.
Commitment to Transparency: 2013.27 – Joshua Pennise and Shane Feldman. Proposed BoD Social Media Policy, drafted and reviewed by RID officers 2014.
RID is still in the midst of change, with membership discontent, fiscal crisis, and strategy planning. Preserving our company identity of reliability, connection, and professionalism can be achieved by connecting to the core values that established RID. In considering these values, all communications could go through the following review before posting to social media: Does your post or response reflect RID’s Roots? Does the post show Respect? Is what you are posting actually Relevant? What Results are you seeking by your post? Posts should directly correspond to as many of the 4 R’s as possible.
2013.31 RID Board of Directors Commitment to the values of Roots, Respect, Relevance, and Results. Proposed BoD Social Media Policy, drafted and reviewed by RID officers 2014.
This strategy can not only benefit RID’s external image and internal processes, but also contribute directly to the organization’s growth and fiscal wellness. Following FY18 if RID has followed correct procedures for social media activity, we may conduct an assessment using social media analytic tools to understand the direct pay out of having these platforms in our communication repertoire. We thank you for your attention to this policy.
Piskorski, Mikolaj Jan. A Social Strategy: How We Profit from Social Media. Princeton: 2014.
Social Media Plan 2.0, drafted by Bill Millios 2016.
Social Media Policy Letter, from the Diversity Council to the President of the Board 2014.
Proposed BoD Social Media Policy, drafted and reviewed by RID officers 2014.