In today’s world, communication is more critical than ever, especially for EU-funded projects. Effective communication, along with the dissemination and exploitation of results, is not just a contractual obligation but also a means to give these projects the visibility they need. It helps reach a wide array of stakeholders, informs society about project relevance, shares research progress, fosters collaboration opportunities, and opens new market avenues. While having a dedicated project website is a well-established requirement, the European Commission (EC) has increasingly encouraged the use of social media for EU project communication in recent years. Here is some guidance on where to begin:
The Social Media Landscape
As of January 2022, a staggering 58.4% of the global population actively used social media for an average of 2.5 hours a day. Social media platforms have become sprawling jungles of content, constantly growing and evolving. For EU projects, navigating this jungle is essential to connecting with stakeholders, but it can also be a challenging task.
Define a Strategy
Just as with developing a Plan for Dissemination and Exploitation including Communication activities (PDEC), the first step in using social media effectively is to plan and prepare by defining a strategy. The project’s social media strategy should align with the overall communication strategy outlined in the PDEC. This strategy should consider the project’s objectives, key messages, and activities, with roles and responsibilities clearly defined. Input and support from all project partners, who may be more familiar with certain social media platforms, can be invaluable. It’s also wise to plan initial activities around standard project-related topics such as partner profiles, open positions, new team members, event participation, publications, and public deliverables.
Choosing the Right Platform
With over 17 social media platforms boasting more than 300 million monthly active users each, selecting the right platform is crucial. Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are among the leaders, each with a different user focus and demographic. When choosing platforms, consider your project’s stakeholders and your partners’ social media preferences. Leveraging platforms familiar to your partners makes it easier for them to share content, which can rapidly expand your project’s reach. Additionally, it’s essential to match the platform to your content and project stage. For instance, Facebook may be effective for recruiting patients for a clinical trial, while Instagram or YouTube might better reach high school students with educational material.
Connect, Engage, and Exchange
Building a community on social media involves more than one-way communication. It’s about connecting, engaging, and exchanging. Start by connecting with project partners and key stakeholders. Engage with other EU-funded projects in similar fields, relevant companies, associations, events, conferences, and journals. Leverage hashtags and tags to make your content discoverable. Ask questions, comment on relevant posts, and use messaging functions where available. Engaging with others helps you understand stakeholders’ needs and broadens your reach.
Content Is Key
The quality of your content is paramount. In a forthcoming blog post, we will share tips and examples of how to create engaging content for EU-funded projects. Creating content that resonates with your audience is essential for maintaining and growing your connections.
Stay Tuned for More
Our communication team is passionate about learning and sharing knowledge. In the coming months, we will publish a series of blog posts offering guidance and tips for communication, dissemination, and exploitation of research and innovation projects. As leaders in communication for numerous Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe projects, we have a wealth of knowledge and experiences to share. Stay tuned, and reach out for more information.
Additional Resources from the European Commission
In addition to the guidance provided in this blog post, the European Research Executive Agency (REA) offers valuable tips and resources for Horizon Europe projects on setting up and managing their social media presence. Be sure to stay updated on these resources by visiting their website here, following them on Twitter (now known as X), and connecting with them on LinkedIn.
Comprehensive Communication Guide
For a more comprehensive guide on communication for research projects, the EC has put together a dedicated resource. This resource includes informative videos explaining why effective communication is crucial for projects as well as six practical tips on how to improve your communication efforts.
Dissemination and Exploitation
Don’t forget to explore the EC’s materials on dissemination and exploitation. These resources are designed to help you maximise the impact of your research by effectively disseminating and exploiting your project’s results.
As you embark on your journey through the social media jungle and work to communicate the significance of your Horizon Europe project, these additional resources from the European Commission can be invaluable tools. Stay tuned for more updates and tips to enhance your project’s communication efforts.