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 social media.
- Post no more than once an hour.
- Post no more than 3 times a day on each platform.
- Post at least once every 2 days on each platform.
- Never like the posts on your account as your account.
- Do not post the same content on all of your platforms.
- 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: register now with a link, learn more with a link, etc.
- Use a casual tone of voice.
- Respond to and like comments, mentions, etc.
- Never use only hashtags as a post/photo description.
- Only use hashtags that are relevant to the post.
- All university-related pages must include at least one current employee as an administrator in addition to any student(s) who may add content.
- 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.
Posting on Behalf of Shenandoah University
- Use correct spelling and grammar. 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.
- 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.
- Have unique content on each of your platforms. If you have the same posts across all of your accounts there is no reason for followers to follow more than one of your accounts. Have a specific, separate strategy for each platform.
- 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.
- If a user comments/posts in an aggressive or hateful way on a Shenandoah affiliated account, contact the Online Communications Coordinator immediately before responding.
- Respond in a timely manner. Social media communities thrive when posted to at least once a day. Moderators must also be able to quickly respond to any concerns as soon as they arise with the appropriate response.
- Don’t over-post. Too many posts per day will drive users away from your page. Be judicious about when and how you post.
- Post no more than once an hour
- Post no more than 3 times a day on each platform
- Keep personal views separate from university posts. You are an agent of the university at all times on Shenandoah sites. Express your views on your own personal networks on your own time.
- Double check links you share, like or retweet. Ensure they are safe and appropriate.
- Follow the rules of the social network provider. Don’t lose your ability to post, and lose access to your community.
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.
- 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.
Students Posting on Social Media
Students should not have access to, the passwords of, or be the administrators of Shenandoah affiliated social media accounts unless it is a specific duty in their work study position, they have read these guidelines fully, and their posts are closely monitored by their supervisor.
Class Projects Involving Social Media
Faculty members must meet with the Online Communications Coordinator before planning to start a class project that involves posting on an official Shenandoah social media account. The Online Communications Coordinator will present in the class on social media best practices. No logins will be provided to students. Student content must pass through the Online Communications Coordinator and the social media coordinator of the account for approval before they will be posted.
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 Guide.
- 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.