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Public Relations and Marketing

Social Media Guidelines

Utah State University encourages the use of social media to strategically engage students, colleagues, alumni and other internal and external audiences. The Public Relations and Marketing office created these guidelines to help you successfully represent USU on social media platforms (either official USU accounts or personal accounts) and effectively use social media tools to achieve your communication goals. We welcome your feedback on these guidelines and expect it to change over time in response to your needs, as well as changes in social media platforms. Note: social media here includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, blogs and other similar platforms.

Follow Existing USU Guidelines and Policies

Principles of Engagement

Protect privacy and confidentiality

Avoid exposing the personal information of students, faculty and staff, as well as the university’s proprietary information. See FERPA above.

Respect copyrights

Follow copyright and fair use laws to the letter. Sharing posts containing photo and video is generally OK, but downloading someone else’s photo or video and sharing it on your platform is generally not OK unless you have permission. Consider watermarking your original images.

Follow platform rules

Know and follow the rules of social media platform(s) you are using.

Defer during a crisis

During a crisis, the crisis communications team will use USU’s official social media accounts to communicate critical information in a timely and accurate manner. You can help protect the safety of our community and minimize misinformation. Please limit your social media activity to amplifying the messages post to the main USU Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Please do not modify our messages when you share them or provide commentary. If you see misinformation being spread, please email social@usu.edu. Please also direct all media inquiries during a crisis to the PRM office.

Save personal opinions for personal pages

When you post for a USU social media account, you are representing the university. Do not use a USU-affiliated account to promote a personal political interest. The name of the university should not to be connected with such a political endorsement in any way, except for the limited purpose of identifying the USU as your employer on your personal social media account. (USU Policy 333)

Social Media Best Practices

Getting Started in Social Media

  1. Let us help: Before launching a new social media presence, consult with the social media coordinator in the PRM office. We can help you ensure you are using your time and resources effectively, as well as ensure your accounts are included in an online social media directory.
  2. Ask permission: Make sure you have support from your department head or manager before you launch a USU-affiliated social media account. There should be at least two or three staff members with access to the social media account, especially for Facebook, which is often linked to only the administrators Facebook page.
  3. Be committed: Make sure you actually have the resources and buy-in to sustain a new social media account for the long-run. Often staff or student workers move on, and a social media account falls into disuse, reflecting poorly on you and the university.
  4. Own it: Make sure there is a staff or faculty member, not just a student, ultimately responsible for your social media account so it won’t fall into disuse. Inactive accounts reflect poorly on USU.
  5. Name it right from the start: Identify your account as part of USU or Utah State so users can search for you. You can also add “official page of…” in your description to help identify you.
  6. Tie your social media to your brand: USU trademark or logos are only used to represent USU as a whole, and shouldn’t be used to represent individual departments, groups or clubs. Using your own logo will enhance your distinct branding. Contact the social media coordinator for help.
  7. Have a strategy: What are your overall goals? Which social media platform can help you achieve those goals? Answer these questions before you jump in, and make sure you have the capacity to work your strategy. Contact the social media coordinator if you need guidance.
  8. Measure, evaluate, adjust: Pick a few social media analytics that will help you measure how well you’re accomplishing your overall goals. Make time to track progress and adjust your social media strategy. Contact the social media coordinator if you need help with measurement.

Tips for Effective Engagement

  1. Be yourself: You can help us give a human face to USU by using your own informal “voice” when posting.
  2. Be social: Social media is a conversation and requires listening to online conversations, consistent engagement (at least a few minutes a day), and ensuring content is fresh and timely.
  3. Be respectful: Your audience is diverse and opinionated. Be careful not to alienate people.
  4. Be prepared to respond to comments: Monitor comments, respond as needed and provide information to resolve issues as necessary. Encourage conversation and be careful about deleting negative comments. See “Be respectful” above. Leave negative comments and posts unless they are profane, obscene, bigoted, violate privacy or are solicitations by outside vendors. Where possible, you can post a disclaimer on your social media site stating that you will remove inappropriate comments and posts. Feel free to post these community standards to your social media account:

    Utah State University welcomes and encourages your participation through our social media channels. Our goal is to provide a place to express and honor the diverse voices of our university. In order to achieve that end, we reserve the right to delete posts and comments containing profanity, obscenity, hate speech, or privacy violations. Posts that solicit funds or promote commercial entities may also be deleted.

  5. Use hashtags appropriately: Avoid using more than two or three hashtags at most in a post or tweet. If you create a hashtag for a topic or event, make sure it has a clear tie to USU (i.e. #USUWOW for Week of Welcome). There are several universities that have an “Aggie” identity. We encourage you to use these established hashtags, though there are many others:
    a. #USUAggies: Content about alumni or current students
    b. #USUAgglieLife: Content about Aggie lifestyle
    c. #lighttheAblue | #USUgameday: Relevant to Aggie athletics and games.
  6. Add your location: Remember to tag your USU location. This is especially important for Instagram where users often search an area by a specific location like “Utah State University.”
  7. Be strategic: Make sure your social media efforts are helping you achieve your communications goals. Your social media strategy should include listening, influencing, engaging, converting and measuring the success of your effort.
  8. Be accurate: By providing timely and accurate information, you’ll enhance USU’s credibility. If you make a mistake, own it. Set the record straight and take responsibility quickly.
  9. Be thoughtful: Everything you post will live forever and is never really private. It can and will be shared widely and stored for future use.
  10. BE VISUAL: Content that includes a good photo or short, simple video will increase your engagement dramatically. If you need content ideas or need help finding the right tools, email social@usu.edu.