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Hints and tips for using social media effectively from the MSD Communications Network community


  • Be sure that your website (web 1.0) is right before you start using social media (web 2.0)
  • Write your posts in lay English, and always check your spelling Don’t use acronyms, technical jargon, or Oxford speak (e.g. “Hilary Term”)
  • Follow your peers (e.g. internal and external to your department/divisions/university, patient groups, opinion makers (e.g. journalists, news feeds, other media channels), policy makers etc. and check what they are doing. Use their stats to measure your own success (e.g. compare number of followers/retweets, Klout score etc.)
  • Shorten web-links using bitly (or similar tool). This will also allow you to analyse how many people click your links
  • Always check web-links work before posting
  • Don’t link to websites that require login (if possible)
  • Make posts interesting and engaging, by asking questions, surveying opinions, including images/video/blog posts (not just text). Surprise your audience, or make them laugh
  • Share interesting content, but make sure you’ve checked the original source first. On Twitter, it is standard etiquette to retweet original content. If you change it, then start your tweet with MT (modified tweet)
  • Be prepared to post content frequently (e.g. Facebook = every few days +, Twitter = daily +). It is better not to start an account, than to have an inactive account
  • Acknowledge funders, sponsors, collaborators etc. (e.g. on Twitter: @wellcometrust, @MRCcomms etc.)
  • Consider carefully whether to post to an institutional account from a personal account. Posting from your personal social media accounts will make them more visible to colleagues and professional contacts. For example, if you post content to an institutional Facebook timeline, your profile picture and name will be visible in the institutional timeline. This could result in Friend requests or, depending on your privacy settings, professional colleagues seeing personal content. Account holders may want to suggest that colleagues forward content to you rather than posting from personal accounts
  • If you post from a personal social media account:
    • First consider how you will deal with professional colleagues following/friending personal accounts
    • Review your privacy settings and/or personal content
    • Consider adding a disclaimer to your personal profiles, clarifying that your views are your own
  • Remember social media is only one means of communication. Don’t rely on your social media presence alone to get the word out, but use it as part of a suite of communication tools (e.g. website, newsletters, etc.)
  • To increase reach, link different social media accounts and refer to them On Twitter, use hash tags (e.g. #neuroscience, #globalhealth etc.), to involve yourself in particular conversation threads. But do check the thread first, and don’t use too many hastags in one tweet, as they make tweets hard to read
  • Register new Twitter accounts with @OxfordMedSci lists (OxfordMedSci Depts. and Units, OxfordMedSci People)