An Unofficial Style Guide
From the Series: Being @CulAnth: Social Media as Academic Practice
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.
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.