Social Media connects people, organisations, movements and ideas across the globe. However, social media is changing the way we talk to each other and how we connect to the world. Read our tips for using social media and download our template social media policies
What is social media?
Simply put, social media involves any means of sharing or communicating with an audience in the digital sphere. Some of the better known ones are social networks like Facebook and Twitter, discussion sites like Reddit, photographic social networks like Instagram and Pinterest, video sharing sites like YouTube and professional social networks like LinkedIn.
Who should be using it?
You will need to decide which social media channels you want to set up for your co-op. Remember they all take time to manage, so maybe stick to one or two of the more popular ones first. Think about who you are trying to reach. If younger people are a target audience, then TikTok might be for you - or for creative industries or artists then instagram might be your thing.
How should your co-op use social media?
It depends on your brand values, tone of voice and who you are trying to reach. It's a good idea to decide this and write this down in a style guide. You may use different communications channels for different reasons. For example, at Co-operatives UK we use social media to:
- Share our news, case studies or achievements by our members
- Launch campaigns, promote events, share new resources and promote job vacancies
- Comment on news stories that are relevant to our members
- Encourage debate on co-ops, the social economy and alternative ways of doing business
What if it all goes wrong?
We've all heard stories of brands getting it wrong - and people won't be shy in telling you that you've made a mistake. The best way to avoid this is to set some ground rules around the use of social media. This applies both to your organisation's accounts (which a handful of people will have access to) and employees own personal accounts.
Some dos and don'ts for staff
Here are a few ground rules that you can share with staff. Download our template social media policy which you can adapt for your own organisation.
Unless you are directly authorised to manage accounts or tasked with social media as part of your role, don’t let posting on social media take your attention away from your job.
Very few people in this organisation are an official spokesperson. When posting to your own personal accounts you must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not for or on behalf of the organisation.
Clearly identify yourself on social media platforms. Remember, you can never really post anonymously on these sites – even if your name is hidden, there are numerous ways ‘anonymous’ postings can be traced back to an individual and to the organisation. It’s also important to protect yourself – be careful about the personal information you share online.
This means everything you publish will be visible to the world for a very long time. Even if you delete a post, it could already have been replicated or shared on sites elsewhere.
It’s important to exercise common sense. If you’re about to publish something that you’re unsure about, think again. If you’re still unsure and your post is related to our brand or your work here - check before publishing.
Be careful when discussing areas where emotions can run high (e.g. politics and religion). Show respect for other people’s opinions.
- Under no circumstances should you mention financial information, sales trends, forecasts, legal issues, or future/unannounced activities, promotions and plans.
- Never give out personal or identifiable information about customers, employees or anyone else associated with the organisation
- Never post confidential or non-public information – if in doubt, check before posting to ensure it has been cleared for the public realm.
- Never respond to an offensive or negative post. This is the responsibility of the people who manage our social media accounts. If you think we won’t see a particular post – draw our attention to it by sending a direct mail.
- Never share internal communications – these are for internal use only.