UKIP's new social media policy to keep members 'on message' online

UKIP’s new social media policy to keep members ‘on message’ online

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After a series of parody accounts, open criticism, and some members saying things the party would rather they didn’t, Ukip has finally developed a social media policy. According to a paper seen by The Observer, party activists are now facing a strict set of guidelines that control usage and threaten immediate suspension for anybody who embarrasses the party.

Any organisation needs a clear social media policy – especially one with a wide and diverse set of activists, and one that attracts a lot of interest and criticism. The Ukip approach is certainly on the stricter side – limiting use of official logos and imagery, as well as actively discouraging members from social media.

Official advice from Steve Crowther, Ukip Party Chairman, to those thinking of using social media suggests that life was better before these channels appeared and that party activists should shy away from them:

My advice: just don’t. Remember life before you could delight the whole world with your every passing thought? It wasn’t so bad, was it? I have no Facebook page, Twitter account or Instagram thingy. It’s lovely.

Ukip certainly has problems on social media and its own members don’t help. But rather than discouraging people from using these tools, any organisation should be finding ways to harness the enthusiasm, time and networks that have been built.

Your team should be your best advocates but often will need support to know how best they can use their social media presences, to know how to avoid conflict and unhelpful messages, and to provide them with content and ideas to share. The social media policy from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office remains one of my favourite example of an organisation that encourages and empowers their team to use these tools.

The 2015 General Election will no doubt be fought out quite fiercely on social media. Any party should be using the pre-election period to develop skills across their activist networks to mean that they have as many people as possible using social media in a way that can benefit their cause and their ideas.