The opportunities and pitfalls afforded by social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook were debated at some length in the distinguished setting of the RCVS council chamber this month.

The opportunities and pitfalls afforded by social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook were debated at some length in the distinguished setting of the RCVS council chamber this month.

Social media buttons by temizyurek.The debate began with a vote to stop the college’s communications department tweeting from the meeting, after councillor Mark Elliott expressed disquiet about discussions being posted live during November’s council. 

Calling for a halt of the activity, Mr Elliott said: “I’m concerned that this meeting will be tweeted and there will be minutes in the public domain that we won’t have read and approved.”

RCVS council voted in favour of preventing the communications team from tweeting live from the meeting. However, Twitter came to the fore later in the meeting as councillors debated a ‘draft interim social media strategy’.

RCVS councillor Mark ElliottThe strategy document, authored by RCVS head of communications Lizzie Lockett and communications manager Ian Holloway, states: “Social media could be particularly important for an organisation such as the RCVS, where we have been identified through research as seeming stuffy and remote.

“Experience shows that when people engage with the RCVS – through a meeting, presentation or phone call – they generally come away with a better impression of the organisation than they expected. Using social media effectively will extend this face-to-face experience and improve the customer perception of the college.”

However, some councillors were less than positive about the potential of social media for the college, including Bob Partridge, who said: “We are a regulatory body – we are not chummy. Facebook and Twitter are media for chummy chats. You may say I’m an old fogey, yes we have got Twitter and Facebook, but I don’t think they’re appropriate for us as a regulatory body.”

RCVS head of communications Lizzie LockettEmphasising the benefits of the technology, Ms Lockett told the council: “We have been doing Twitter for about 15 months and have around 1,500 followers, including MPs, members of the House of Lords and lots of members of the public. Social media is really good way of reaching audiences that we don’t have a natural channel with.”

She added: “I appreciate it is new technology and can be a bit scary. I expect some people felt that way about television and radio when they first came in. I genuinely don’t think it’s going to go away.”

At the instigation of RCVS president Jerry Davies, councillors voted that the communications team should “recraft” the strategy document in response to points raised.

 

  • Unclassified papers from the council meeting, including the draft interim social media strategy, can be downloaded here.

 

Social media image ©iStockphoto.com/temizyurek
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