Birds-eye view of people drinking coffee around a table with laptop and tablet used to represent ecoffee at SGH.

ecoffee @ SGH

In June’s eCoffee, Jonny Vaughan, Ayala Gordon and Hayleigh Sidhu from the university’s Communications and Marketing team visited to share the work they’ve been doing shaping the university’s social media presence.

New guidelines have been developed to support university users, highlighting the benefits of a coordinated, collaborative approach, but within that encouraging individual voices and character.  Social media changes rapidly, so the guidelines give a simple, sustainable message that applies across existing and emerging platforms.  The intention is to enable creativity, giving a sense of a connected community but not being over-prescriptive.

The 10 guiding principles are summarised below:

  • User needs first: Is your content and format appropriate for your intended audience?
  • Always add value: Think about how you will stand out – is what you’re sharing relevant and helpful for your audience?
  • Be authentic: A channel that feels human, rather than corporate, is likely to be more engaging and build trust. Share real, individual stories as well as big news items.
  • Start a conversation and keep it going: Social media is about connecting, not shouting. Aim to generate discussion rather than likes.
  • Be respectful: Show sensitivity to social and cultural backgrounds.
  • One size doesn’t fit all: Optimise content for the particular platform, rather than copying from one platform to another.
  • Good data leads to good decisions: Measure analytics to see what works (but not necessarily ‘vanity metrics’).
  • Use it or lose it: Rather than setting up an account you will only use occasionally, work with colleagues to combine content from a shared channel.
  • Always have a failsafe: At least two people should have editing rights to each channel.
  • Personal data is sacred: Make sure you adhere to the requirements of the GDPR. Images are a valuable way of enhancing social media, but be mindful that these are personal data too, and should be stored with appropriate information and permission.

The full handbook can be downloaded here: Social Media handbook – and is accompanied by a Slack community providing online support for account owners.

Some good examples of social media channels include the Library’s Twitter account and the Residences Facebook page, both of which are informative with a conversational tone; another example is the Life at Southampton blog which features student contributors.  Lists of various UoS Twitter accounts have been collated at:

We also heard about the OneWeb project, working to re-design course pages to better support users.  Information about how to get involved can be found in the Digital Team blog at: We’re building better course pages, here’s how you can help.

Do join us for next month’s eCoffee on July 24th, 10-11am in LF9.  We will hear how tutors in the new Personal & Professional Development module engaged and supported students online, using various tools including Sway, podcasts and Peerwise.  All welcome!

eCoffee @ SGH: Communications and Marketing at UoS by Jonny Vaughan

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