Social media is a constantly evolving and is an increasingly critical aspect of Shenandoah University’s digital presence. In all instances, social media sites that represent Shenandoah University (e.g. use “Shenandoah” or “Shenandoah University,” “SU” and/or “Hornets”) must positively reflect its Mission Statement. These words describe Shenandoah’s mission and brand:
- high energy
Social media is timely and interactive to a much greater extent than any other current medium. It represents an emerging style of expression in which causal language, expressions and slang as well as interactive dialogues are acceptable, appropriate and sometimes preferable.
The following guidelines apply to all individuals, offices, departments and schools that use social media tools, websites and applications on behalf of the university. Creating an engaging and dynamic social media presence provides the opportunity to connect with a variety of audiences and build the Shenandoah community.
The following guidelines pertain to anyone all university community members – students, faculty members and staff members – and their use of web-based social media.
- The use of social media must not violate any local, state or federal law.
- Use of social media must comply with all applicable university policies, guidelines and regulations.
- Users must not post confidential information about Shenandoah University, its faculty, staff and students.
- The use of university technology resources must conform to the technology standards and policies defined by Shenandoah’s Institutional Computing department.
- All university-related pages must include at least one current employee as an administrator in addition to any student(s) who may add content.
Posting on Behalf of Shenandoah University
- Get official approval. Posting content on social media websites on behalf of the university requires specific authorization from the Office of Marketing & Communications (academics, university offices, departments), the Office of Intercollegiate Athletics (teams) or the Division of Student Life (student clubs and organizations). Social media websites include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Flickr, etc.
- Removal of pages. Shenandoah University reserves the right to remove inactive communities or those that fail to adhere to positive brand advancement.
- Shenandoah University trademarks and logos may not be used without approval. Contact the Office of Marketing & Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org for an approved logo and other images to ensure coordination with other university sites and content.
- Do not hide your identity. The best way to share university news is by linking to the original source. Clearly state your role and goals when posting on behalf of the university.
- Be a brand ambassador. Shenandoah University employees and representatives who post on behalf of the university must be mindful at all times of protecting the university’s reputation and promoting the university’s educational mission and brand.
- Stay positive and engaging. Creative energy filled with positive and engaging content, a main pillar of the brand, helps build a social network and strengthen the digital community.
- Be professional during heated discussions. If online conversations become volatile or hostile, employees and representatives of the university must remain respectful, professional and conscious of the university’s primary role as an educational institution.
- Follow the USAF Flowchart for prompts on how to respond.
- Respond quickly and, when appropriate, escalate to the proper authority.
Social Media Best Practices
Form a strategy.
- Identify your purpose.
- Determine your audience(s).
- Define types of content you will post.
Set your goals.
- Clearly define 5 goals for your social media site/page.
- Are you trying to communicate a campaign? Promote your university department/division/group/program? Connect with alumni? Build community? Or, increase overall awareness of your Shenandoah entity?
- Your goals should be SMART: Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. Timely.
- Common social media goals include: increased traffic to website, reputation management, brand awareness, search engine rankings and thought leadership.
- Post on a daily basis.
- Keep your posts short.
- Spell check your posts before posting.
- Post what your followers want to see, not just what you want to post.
- Post new, fresh, timely content.
- Resist posting too frequently.
- Vary your posts: photos, links, status updates, videos.
- Post a call to action! Ask a question or use fill in the blank.
- Use a casual tone of voice.
- Respond to and like comments, mentions, etc.
- Research other organizations and their social media networks.
- Take note of ideas that work as well as those that don’t.
- Determine what success should look like in order to reach your goals.
- Increased traffic to your website? Better communication with prospective students? More fans, followers and/or comments?
Shut it down.
- If you do not have enough content to regularly post on your page(s), meaning your site is inactive, delete or deactivate the site. Pages that languish are poor reflections of your department and Shenandoah University.
Officially recognized Shenandoah social media accounts – accounts that are included and promoted among university publications and advertising media – must conform to the following:
Use official university signature in accordance with the graphic standards guide.
- Refrain from using unapproved logos and graphics.
- Include a disclaimer statement regarding content and opinions contained on the site.
Suggested Social Media Disclaimer Boilerplate:
“Content published on social media websites and various public forums are not necessarily endorsed by Shenandoah University or its affiliates.”
- Regulate your site(s). Remove inappropriate content, illegal, injurious or offensive statements or comments immediately.
- Agree to best practice uses as defined by the respective social media used.
- Use proper university building and program names in the following:
- official university news releases
- any officially sanctioned university announcements
- Refrain from using copyrighted materials without explicit permission from the author or creator.
- Even though social media is, to a great extent, casual, any online site that includes the Shenandoah University name and/or its signature represents this institution of higher education to the entire world. Use spell check. (Write text in a Word doc if necessary, run spell check, and then cut and paste the text into the social media site.) Read, understand and use the Shenandoah University Graphic & Editorial Guidelines.
- It is acceptable to refer to university programs and building names in colloquial terms in casual posts or when referencing a program previously cited in the same post.
- In videos and images, only tag people from whom you have received permission to tag. Do not post unflattering photos of anyone.
- Understand the media. Read the getting started guides for each social media site.