CERN’s Social Media Strategy

1. Introduction

Social media is one of the tools that the Organization uses to disseminate information. This social-media strategy describes how CERN plans, executes and measures all social-media activities. It is in line with the overall CERN communications strategy.

2. A reminder of CERN Communication Strategy Objectives and Audiences

The overall objective of the CERN Communications Strategy is to help ensure the long-term future of CERN’s mission and share it with society.

This overall objective may be broken down into the following goals:

  1. Contribute to maintaining and increasing support from current Member States.
  2. Contribute to attracting new Member and Associate Member States (in line with the current strategy for scientific and geographical enlargement).
  3. Maintain high public awareness and engagement with CERN’s activities.
  4. Foster community-building efforts within both CERN and the international particle physics community.
  5. Raise awareness of and provide information about CERN’s societal impact.
  6. Enable CERN to serve as an effective voice for fundamental research in relevant multilateral debates and with the public.

The following target audiences have been identified for CERN:

  • Governments and policy-makers: of the Member States, of potential new Member States and Associate Member States, of the Host States, of other international organisations
  • The international particle physics community, including: research institutes and universities and physicists
  • The broader international scientific community
  • The media and influencers
  • Teachers and students (from pre-university to graduate)
  • The local community
  • The general public (citizens)
  • The CERN community (including CERN employees, students, associates and contractors’ personnel)

3. CERN Social-Media Strategy

The main purpose of CERN’s social media strategy is NOT to gain website visitors but to increase the awareness of the laboratory on social-media platforms. There are three main strands to the social-media strategy:

  1. Begin a journey
    Key messages are disseminated by repackaging CERN’s online content for the different social-media channels. Most social-media content contains links back to the CERN website, starting a journey to find out more. All our social-media’s contents are created with a high level of science exigency. Even if messages are sometimes short on social media, they are linked to a webpage to go further.
    Key Performance Indicators (KPI):
    • Click-through: traffic from social media to website
    • Time spent on website
  2. Foster engagement
    CERN’s presence on social-media channels fosters engagement in the general public and helps to form an online community of stakeholders interested in the laboratory and its work. The level of engagement on social media, through the shares and comments of CERN information is regularly monitored.
    Key Performance Indicators (KPI):
    • Likes
    • Comments
    • Shares
    • Engagement rate: interactions/impressions × 100
  3. Retain positive sentiment
    Social media is a way to reach the general public and a way to monitor sentiment towards the Organization. By keeping sentiment positive and handling negative sentiment constructively by responding as appropriate to questions or concerns, CERN’s strong brand identity is retained.
    Key Performance Indicators (KPI):
    • Sentiment: are the comments neutral, positive or negative?

4. Guidelines and awareness-raising

CERN’s Social-Media guidelines can be found on this page and also here for the CERN Community.

CERN’s commenting policy for social-media channels is as follows:

CERN welcomes your comments and will moderate comments using these guidelines:

  • Please keep comments relevant. Irrelevant, inappropriate or offensive comments may be deleted.
  • Stay on topic. Other readers expect the comments about a post to deal with the topic at hand.

Want to go social?
If you would like to create an official social-media account dedicated to your experiment, project or event, please see send an e-mail to social-media@cern.ch. We will provide you a “Template for a CERN-related social-media account”.

5. Relations with influencers

CERN welcomes each year several influencers with large audiences on social-media platforms. These influencers are often directly linked to science but could be also VIPs visiting CERN via the Protocol office or within the scope of the “Special Visits” programme.

Science influencers’ visits
Influencers have a large amount of followers and a great community on social media. CERN defines a minimum number of followers for each social-media platform for the person to be considered as an influencer. Besides quantity, quality is also crucial. Resources are devoted to influencers that are close to CERN in terms of editorial line of the contents he/she produces.

In cases where the influencer will receive sponsorship for her/his visit, CERN requires information in advance. We ask about the scope of the sponsorship concerning the content created by the influencer and assess if the sponsorship is compatible with CERN’s values to avoid having commercials/publicity/logos in a video/social-media coverage related to CERN. When we have all the elements from the influencer, we can make a decision on a case-by-case basis concerning her/his visit to CERN.

6. CERN’s Social Media Platforms

CERN’s Education, Communication and Outreach group run the following social-media accounts:

Twitter:

Facebook:

Youtube:

Instagram: @CERN instagram.com/cern

LinkedIn: @CERN linkedin.com/company/cern

Active hashtags:

  • #AcceleratingNews
  • #CERN
  • #CERNalumni
  • #CERNandSociety
  • #CERNCourier
  • #CERNKT
  • #CERNOpenDays
  • #CLIC
  • #ESPPUpdate
  • #FCC
  • #FollowFriday
  • #HiLumiLHC
  • #IWorkAtCERN
  • #LHC
  • #MyWeb30
  • #PhotoOfTheWeek
  • #TBT
  • #ThrowbackThursday
  • #UpgradingLHC
  • #Web30
  • #WomenInScience
  • Dedicated Instagram’s hashtags (published as first comment):
    #cern #physics #science #instascience #scientist #switzerland #geneva #particlephysics #sciencegeek #ilovescience #sciencenerd #sciencenews #sciencephotography #sciencephoto #sciencepic #research #quantumphysics #largehadroncollider #LHC #pushinglimits #scienceinnovation #innovation #lovephysics

In addition, many other social-media accounts are run by people around CERN. CERN’s social-media team maintains regular contact with these account owners to maximize synergies between the different accounts (see section on “Collaborations” below).

7. Content shared on Social Media

News stories
CERN publishes press releases and news on its website. Sharing these news stories from home.cern/news to CERN’s social-media channels is one way to reach out to an audience on social media and encourage them to read more about CERN’s activities.

Regular posts
CERN publishes regular content on its social-media channels to feed the different channels, to improve follower retention and loyalty and to effectively use existing content (images, videos, evergreen content etc). These regular posts include:

  • Guess What This Is (GWTI): to foster engagement by showcasing unusual photos or highlighting a piece of news. The image is posted on Friday and the online community has until Monday to guess what the image shows. On Monday the answer is posted with a link to find out more.
  • Photo of the week: to showcase beautiful photos, chosen independently from the news and based almost entirely on their aesthetic value.
  • Throwback Thursday (TBT): to highlight the history of CERN and some of its milestones, to showcase great archive images/videos and to make the followers travel back in time.

Events
The CERN events can be divided into different categories:

  1. On-site events: where people can attend in person, primarily at the Globe of Science and Innovation, but also events such as Open Days, Researchers’ Night, etc. These are mainly addressed to people living around CERN although for larger events communications are wider as people may travel further to attend.
  2. Webcast events: These are talks/debates/panels that can be watched from anywhere in the world via webcast. They are usually scientific seminars dedicated to people with some scientific background, but can also be more accessible talks e.g. Globe talks or CERN’s knowledge-transfer seminars.
  3. External events where CERN is involved: These events involve CERN but do not take place at the Laboratory, e.g. the World Economic Forum, the Physics Pavilion at WOMAD Festival in the UK, scientific conferences held elsewhere.
  4. CERN community events: These events are restricted to CERN people (e.g. the CERN Hackathon).
  5. All other events: Workshops, lectures, seminars, experiment weeks, etc.

Depending on the event, CERN’s social-media team creates a small campaign on Facebook (with a Facebook event), on Twitter (with reminders) and on LinkedIn if appropriate. This typically applies to the first three types of events listed above.

Campaigns
CERN runs several campaigns on social media. These are great moments to work together with people from and outside CERN, with objectives and a common plan. For each campaign, a social-media communication plan is set up and discussed with those concerned (see template in annex). CERN uses different social-media channels depending on the desired audience(s).

Collaborations

With the aim of inducing behaviour changes on the platforms based on the campaign objectives

  1. CERN-related accounts (CERN Jobs, Alumni, Experiments, CERN Lectures, CERNopenlab, CERN library, Arts at CERN, CERN Ideasquare)
    The policy here is for the social-media team to work closely with account managers, providing them with tips and advice for their social-media posts. CERN shares their publications on social media, when it’s relevant and directly linked to CERN’s activities (for example a post with a link to home.cern, an engaging picture or video, content related to a campaign, etc).
  2. Laboratories, EPPCN (European Particle Physics Communication Network)
    CERN is part of the European Particle Physics Communication Network (EPPCN) and is a member of the EPPCN social-media working group. CERN does not reshare all content from related laboratories, but instead develops common campaigns, for example for the Women and Girls in Science and Technology event on 11 February. CERN also periodically showcases the laboratories by featuring them as a Photo of the week or for a Follow Friday. CERN’s Twitter account has a public list of laboratories to also highlight our collaborations: twitter.com/CERN/lists/labs/members and the content that they share twitter.com/CERN/lists/labs.
  3. Scientists
    CERN’s Twitter account has a public list of CERN-related and non-CERN related physicists active on Twitter: twitter.com/CERN/lists/physicists/members and the content that they share twitter.com/CERN/lists/physicists.
    In addition, CERN’s social-media team manage a private Twitter messaging group of “CERN scientists” grouping more than 40 members of the CERN community who have built a substantial online audience tweeting from their personal Twitter account. This group, of primarily particle physicists, helps to address questions received on the CERN social channels, providing personal responses to build a more meaningful online engagement. There is a healthy exchange of ideas within this discussion group, with CERN providing advance information of upcoming news and campaigns, and the group members sharing content spotted on social media that could require actions from CERN or from the community. The group has proved extremely useful in identifying and mitigating potential social-media crises.
  4. Publications (CERN Courier, Symmetry magazine, Accelerating News)
    CERN promotes a limited number of related institutional publications, including CERN Courier, Symmetry magazine and Accelerating News by writing or sharing social-media posts on all of its channels on a case-by-case basis. This is a great way to collaborate with other organisations or publications to showcase not only home.cern content but also relevant scientifically accurate content from elsewhere.
  5. Media
    CERN does not usually share content from external media sources, to avoid endorsement and bias to a particular entity. Some exceptions could occur when, for example, CERN has a partnership with a particular media source on a piece of content. These case-by-case instances are dealt with in discussion with CERN’s Press Office.

8. CERN Channels Strategy Table

The aim of this table is to give a global view of our activities on social-media channels, including why, who, what, when, where and how.

Channel

Overview and

Objectives

Audience

Content

Engagement

Measuring success

 

Why CERN uses this platform

Who is the audience and what does the audience expect on this channel

What is posted and what is not posted, frequency

CERN’s “social” behaviour

KPIs and targets

TWITTER

CERN

Increase CERN awareness by:

. Informing the audience about CERN’s latest news

. Running campaigns on specific topics

. Building, strengthening and collaborating with the physics community and the broader scientific community

. Showing how broad CERN research is with the many CERN-related accounts

. General public

. International particle physics community and international scientific community

. Teachers and students

. CERN Community

. Governments and policy-makers

. News and updates

. Weekly content: GWTI photo, Photo of the Week, TBT

. Campaigns

. Events if webcast (seminars, public events, conferences...)

. Others: #CERNCourier, #AcceleratingNews

Collaborations

. Symmetry Magazine

. Experiments

. CERN_Jobs

. EPPCN

Likes and Retweets

Entities with a strong link with CERN (except from media accounts). Exceptions are possible on a case by case basis.

Replying policy

From personal accounts (i.e. CERN comms team and CERN scientists) rather than the @CERN account.

Twitter lists

Highlight accounts that CERN endorses.

Following policy

Labs, institutes, universities, scientists, influencers.

KPIs:

. Posts: reach, likes, retweets, replies, link clicks, engagement rate

. Community: new followers

CERN_FR

CERN’s French language Twitter account.

Increase CERN awareness by:

. Informing the audience about CERN’s latest news

. Running campaigns on specific topics

. Building and strengthening relations with the local community

French-speaking audience

. General public

. Local community

. CERN Community

. News and updates in French

. Regular content: GWTI photo, Photo of the Week, TBT

. Campaigns in French

. Events in French, mostly local (Seminars, Public events, etc.)

Likes and Retweets

Entities with a strong link with CERN (except from media accounts). Exceptions are possible on a case by case basis.

Replying policy

From personal accounts (i.e. CERN comms team and CERN scientists) rather than the @CERN_FR account.

Following policy

Labs, institutes, universities, scientists, influencers

KPIs:

. Posts: reach, likes, retweets, replies, link clicks, engagement rate

. Community: new followers

CERNpress

The official CERN voice dedicated to journalists and media.

Increase our visibility with media / Strengthen our relations with media

. By frequently tweeting to show CERN Press Office’s presence

. By responding to media requests that comes from Twitter

. By contacting media and journalists directly on Twitter

Encourage media to talk about CERN

. By providing regular content (news or not)

. By sharing the latest news (press releases, media information)

. By announcing upcoming media events (press conferences) and events that journalists could be interested in

Media and journalists from newspapers, magazines, radio, television, news agencies

All content published for the audience “media” on CERN website:

. Press releases

. News for media

. Media information

. Events for journalists (press conferences, media briefings)

. Resources (photos, videos, brochures, fact sheets, quotes).

Short, fast message needed to be sent urgently (e.g. statement during a crisis)

Direct contact and messaging with journalists

Sharing policy

CERN does not usually share content from external media sources, to avoid endorsement and bias to a particular entity. Some exceptions could occur when, for example, CERN has a partnership with a particular media source on a piece of content. These case-by-case instances are dealt with in discussion with CERN’s Press Office.

Following policy
Media and journalists from newspapers, magazines, radio, television, news agencies

KPIs
. Number of journalists/media outlets/photographers in our followers

. Number of interactions via direct message

. Number of followed journalists that do not follow us back

FACEBOOK

CERN

. Increase CERN awareness by sharing news and updates

. Showcase CERN’s culture by highlighting CERN’s history

. Showcase diversity at CERN by featuring CERN people

. Build an engaged online community and foster conversation

. Inform the CERN audience about CERN’s public activities and encourage them to take part

. The general public (informed and science-interested but not expert audience)

. International particle physics community and international scientific community

. Teachers and students

. CERN Community

. Local community

. News and updates

. Regular content: GWTI photo, Photo of the Week, TBT

. Campaigns

. Events (Seminars, Public events, etc.)

. Videos include Facebook Lives or Premiers(e.g. trailers to say look out for new content)

. 360 videos/photos or 3D photos

Collaborations:

. Experiments

. CERN Library

. CERN contacts influencers e.g. NASA for specific and targeted content that we want to promote.

Replying policy

Reply to comments from @CERN with links to home.cern content.

Liking policy

Like relevant posts and comments.

Sharing policy

CERN can share publications from entities with a strong link with CERN (institutes, labs, CERN-related accounts) and cross-post content such as videos.

KPIs

Posts: reach, likes, comments, shares, link clicks, engagement rate

Community: fans recruitment

INSTAGRAM

CERN

. Show the visual beauty of science through photos

. Increase CERN awareness by sharing news and updates

. Showcase CERN’s culture by highlighting CERN’s history

. Showcase diversity at CERN by featuring CERN people

. Build an engaged online community and foster conversation

. Enhance the experience of specific events through Instagram stories

. General public

. International particle physics community and international scientific community

. Teachers and students

. CERN Community

. Local community

 

The CERN Instagram account uses two features: the Instagram feed, which is permanent, and the Instagram stories, which stay online for 24 hours only and are powerful to promote “behind-the-scenes” and on-the-go content.

FEED

. News (if the image is eye-catching)

. Regular content: GWTI, Photo of the Week, TBT

. Campaigns

. Big event announcements (e.g. Open Days)

Captions of the posts:

. Short text

. No link

. Add significant hashtags as a comment, up to 8

STORIES

. News on a case-by-case basis

. Campaigns

. Events running

. Behind-the-scenes content

. Add links with a swipe up and calls to action e.g. ask a question

Media: photos, images, carousels or videos in specific cases

Replying policy

Reply to comments and DM from @CERN with links to home.cern content.

User-generated content

. Like and/or comment on relevant photos (in which CERN is tagged)

. Choose a dedicated slot, a few times a week, to re-post a CERN-related photo taken by the public on the CERN Instagram story (mentioning the author).

Following policy

Labs, universities, institutes and influencers.

KPIs:

. Posts: likes, comments

. Stories: replies, swipe-ups

. Community: new followers

LINKEDIN

CERN

Our LinkedIn page highlights HR-related content and showcases CERN’s impact on society through knowledge-transfer initiatives. It creates connections between key influencers in science, engineering, research and industry.

. Industry

. Governments and policy-makers

. International scientific community (people in engineering, research...)

. Teachers and students

. Any web update that is tagged with the audience "Industry", "Policymakers" or with the tag "Knowledge Transfer”

. CERN alumni content

. CERN KT seminars with webcasts

 

KPIs

Posts: impressions, likes, comments, shares, link clicks, engagement rate

Community: follower recruitment

YOUTUBE

CERN

Our YouTube channel showcases video content, either news-related, linked to a campaign or a series, or educational. Different playlists highlight key achievements including technology transfer to society.

. General public with an interest in science

. International particle physics community and international scientific community

. Media and influencers

. Teachers and students

Cf. video workflow process

• Video types

• Playlists

• CERN lectures channel

. Collaborations (with CERN jobs, experiments, alumni)

. Liking content elsewhere

. Responses

. Dealing with conspiracy theory videos

KPIs

Views, likes, comments, Community: subscriber recruitment

CERN Lectures

This channel showcases selected CERN’s Academic Lectures from the Academic Training Lectures collection on CDS

Students, Scientists

Each Wednesday, a new video is released.

Comments deactivated on the YouTube Channel

Brand new channel, no viewing/subs objectives for the moment.

9. Evaluating social media

The social-media team continuously evaluates CERN’s social-media activities.

  • If audience numbers fall, the team investigates the reasons why and decides whether to continue with a particular channel. For example, at the end of 2016, CERN ceased activities on Google+.
  • If the effort does not justify the return, accounts are also closed, for example with iTunesU and Snapchat.
  • New opportunities are explored and evaluated, for example CERN is currently testing Facebook Workplace.
  • There are many influencers on social media, users with large followings and voices. Connecting with and engaging influencers should be an important part of CERN’s social-media strategy. Relevant influencers are identified in our influencers’ list as well as in the YouTubers list.
  • Each campaign is evaluated and analyzed with lessons learnt feeding in to future campaigns
  • Incidents monitoring, developing keywords, evaluating impact to see if action is needed

10. Roles and resources

There are different roles in the social-media activities at CERN, within the current human resource structure.

  • Manager and officer (social media team + people from local comms, CERN KT, CERN Jobs, APS, experiments, etc.)
  • Monitoring: social media team
  • Creating: Visuals (photos, videos): APS, Animations: graphic design
  • Engaging: allow at least 15 to 20% of the working hours to engage with our communities on each social media platform
  • Developing: follow and analyze the social-media’s trends and opportunities for CERN

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