Monitoring and Responding in Social Media

For official social media channels, the Office of Public Affairs -- including members of our student social media team -- regularly posts on, monitors and responds to any queries. If you have social media channels, you should check them at least once (if not multiple times) a day at minimum. Basic customer service rules apply, in that honest questions should be responded to promptly, courteously and sometimes with additional details such as links or contact information. Like anything on the web, not all comments may be friendly or on topic.

Our official Facebook page comment guidelines read: The discussion board is available for questions, often from those entering or considering Oswego ... we hope to get you answers in a timely manner as you ponder joining our community. However, spam, blatantly commercial, obscene and/or denigrating messages are not welcome in this space and may be removed, as this page exists to serve a broader community.

So how does one handle posts or comments that fall outside basic question categories? As mentioned above, you want to post some kind of guidelines saying what you deem acceptable posts and what is unacceptable (personal attacks, profanity, spam, etc.). Some of what you may have to decide to address are:

Complaints: Do not summarily delete complaints; this can cause more harm than good. The poster may have a very valid reason for the complaint (who hasn't gone to a normally good restaurant and had a bad meal or service, for example?), and you should show an interest in resolving the situation. You may not be in a position to know all the details or help them, but apologize for any inconvenience and offer (either publicly or privately) to put them in contact with someone who can help. Very often, someone with a valid complaint who has their problem solved can become one of your strongest supporters.

Spam: Some are clear, such as the Facebook post from an unfamiliar person offering an opportunity for someone to become rich working from home. Sometimes you'll find postings from commercial companies geared toward college students, but you can trace back to the poster and ask 1) is this person a member of your college community? and 2) did they post this same message on dozens of other colleges' social media outlets? If you determine the answers are "no" and "yes," then their message qualifies as spam and can be hidden, deleted and/or marked as spam if you have a stated policy (recommended). If your community policy is a space can't be used for commercial promotion (since this can overwhelm a discussion area if left unchecked), you may delete commercial postings, although you may also want to provide an explanation.

Ragers: Many online communities have people who post on it to rant on a variety of topics. As long as the language is not offensive, inflammatory or insulting to specific entities, common advice is to let it stand and monitor unless or until it crosses any established lines.

Trolls: On the web, a troll is an entity that regularly posts negative comments, insults or bait to start arguments. Trolls tend to respond to other posters with attacks, picking fights for the sake of conflict and otherwise negatively impacting a community. If you have trolls who violate stated policies repeatedly, you do have the option of banning them from your community if you state this is a possibility.

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