The Society for Cultural Anthropology’s Social Media Team (SMT) relies heavily on oral history, some institutional memory, and low turnover rates to imagine and maintain its “style guide.” While we have extensive tracking documentation for managing content, post history, and frequency, alongside general guidelines for posting from the accounts, we don’t have a formalized style guide. The decision not to create one has been both a conscious decision and a constant discussion topic.

We are a collective of anywhere from 6–11 graduate students. We spend a lot of time discussing and negotiating in our group chat and bimonthly meetings. Some of these negotiations circle around post relevancy, language, and framing, how to manage trolls and harmful content, and how to support each other when we're receiving backlash or negative comments on the account (which often happens). Due to the size of our account and the diversity of our handling styles, our process has more to do with collaboration than a set list of dos and don’ts. We embrace the different styles of handling that each handler brings and are thus resistant to a formalized style guide.

In this post, we are interested in documenting these processes and practices that have accrued and formed when handling the @CulAnth account. We hope that this can be a resource for the management of public accounts for others who, like us, did not receive formal training in social media management. Some of these practices were already codified through past iterations of the team, but some have been cemented through iteration and conversation. Below, we expand upon these documents to provide pragmatic insights and strategies to ground your own digital platforms and collectives in the practices that have guided our handling of large academic social media accounts.


Modes of Collaboration and Communication

Be a team:

  • Make a group chat.
    • Here, team members can discuss things that happen on the accounts:
      • How to respond to things that are happening online
      • Potential post ideas/meme formats
      • Double-check posts and phrasing
      • Point the handler toward a post or idea with which the account might interact or promote
  • Have team discussions on how to manage the account during ongoing events.
    • This might be in the group chat or as a formal meeting.
    • Monthly or bi-monthly check-ins are frequent enough that everyone can speak to their most recent experiences on the account, but not so frequent that nothing new can be added.
      • Team discussion is a mode of building communicative infrastructure where handlers reflect individually on their week and collectively on broader trends and patterns.
      • Group chats and meetings allow handlers to talk about ongoing events, particularly trends on the internet, academic moments, how posts and ideas land at different times of the year, new handles that are causing a stir, and others.
      • These are spaces to negotiate the expectations of the team and the expectations of an overseeing entity, such as an editorial board.

Communication and Archive

Build (institutional) memory:

  • Take notes during the monthly or bimonthly meetings.
    • Also, share an agenda or note-taking document ahead of time so that team members can add thoughts and reflections prior to the meeting.
  • Have a tracker document to coordinate post frequency and location (see Figure 1 in Citational Practices, this series).
    • Number how many times content has been posted
    • Use color coding to note what needs to be posted, what doesn’t, and what’s popular
    • Include the authors' full names and Facebook or Twitter handles
  • Write “hand-off” emails where handlers describe their week, what worked, what didn’t, and what remains to be done.
    • Use a consistent subject line in these emails so that they can be found easily when double-checking communication or writing notes for the formal meeting.
    • Include weekly events that shaped the account’s activity or content.

Account Strategies

Build the disciplinary network you wish already existed:

  • Use TweetDeck to follow kin accounts and hashtags.
  • Use consistent hashtags in posts.
  • Regularly follow new people to diversify the account timeline.
  • Include users’ handles to bring them into online conversations.
  • Write threads to expand individual ideas and posts to participate in larger conversations.
    • Think of threads as a form of curation, where you’re using the institutional leverage of the account to expand disciplinary boundaries.

Be consistent and accessible:

  • Use tweet templates (for example, “from the archives,” quote blocks, content drops, the quippy quote tweet).
  • Schedule tweets in advance (take into consideration time zones).
  • Aim for three to seven authored tweets each day, and however many retweets.
  • Regarding the retweet or quote tweet:
    • Reflect on the ethics and decisions of when to “@” someone, given the size of our account. What are the differences between promoting their Cultural Anthropology or Fieldsights piece with a retweet versus quote tweeting.
  • Capitalize the first word of hashtags for screen readers (for example, #AnthroTwitter, rather than #anthrotwitter).
  • Include alt-text for images.
  • Establish how to respond to trolling, sealioning, and doxing.
  • In consideration of digital blackface, stick to cartoon and non-human GIFs.
  • Livetweet significant academic events when possible.

Have a persona:

  • Introduce yourself (or not) at the start of your week. This sets the tone: cheeky, silly, serious, drawing attention to a particular event or expected content for the week.
  • When possible, maintain tone throughout the editorial style and voice of tweeting.
  • Use “we” rather than “I” to establish collective authoring, thinking, and responsibility, to help teams be accountable to one another, and avoid being targeted by online harassment.
  • Have a few members who rotate handling responsibilities on a regular basis.
    • The SMT regularly has 6–11 team members, and each person handles the account for one week every 6–9 weeks.
    • A team ensures that an account has a breadth of individual curation and offers easy modes of shifting the voice and focus of the account on a week-to-week basis.


In this post, we included practices and principles that have worked for us. These have been altered in the past and are subject to change. We leave you with some guiding questions that you and your collaborators can ask yourselves in order to work out your own guiding principles.

  • What do you want your social media accounts to be?
  • Who is it for?
  • What kind of engagement do you want to encourage?
  • What will it look like?
  • What public presence do you want the discipline or account to have?