Social Media Best Practices
Creating and maintaining high-quality and cohesive social media accounts for the university is critical to our brand and reputation. The following guidelines should be adhered to as closely as possible. Our goal is to create social media accounts that provide value for our audiences and tell the Illinois story in strategic and coordinated ways.
- Do your research: Do you need an account? What audience are you trying to reach and can you do it through this platform? Are you already reaching this audience in another, more effective way? Do you have time to maintain the content on this account? Creating a new account is a big step; make sure it’s the right one.
- Listen to your audiences, interact and engage with them, and provide content those audiences find useful. Remember that social media is a conversation, not a one-way monologue.
- Develop an appropriate tone for the account. Each unit has a unique audience and voice, but all university accounts should have a tone that is smart, kind, thoughtful, proud and deeply supportive of and excited about the university.
- Post several times a week, every week. Create quality content that not only promotes your unit and the strategic goals of the university, but resonates and connects with your intended audience.
- Unit accounts may sometimes receive negative comments or responses. Simply because a comment is negative is not a sufficient reason to delete it. Instead, unit accounts should only delete comments that violate the unit’s published comment policy.
- Promote the account in other communication formats – like emails, posters in buildings, and publications – to create awareness and earn followers.
- Connect with other university accounts and actively follow them, rebroadcasting good news on your account/feed. Share the success of the university broadly. When one unit succeeds, we all succeed.
- Think before you post. Remember that journalists and bloggers actively follow social media feeds. Once content is posted online it can be repeated and shared globally.
- Avoid advertising specific businesses outside of the university. As university accounts, we cannot endorse using one business over another.
- Delete the account if it isn’t achieving its goals.
- If you manage channels for a university unit, apply to become a verified university account. To qualify, make sure you are adhering to account access and security best practices, following our university comment policy, and using our profile picture template.
- Track the success and growth of your accounts through social media analytics. You can access templates of the Public Affairs social media analytics report here.
Best Practices for Personal Use
- Guard your identity. Remember that privacy is difficult to maintain on social media. Public posts are indexed in search engines. Comments that you intend to be private can be screenshotted and publicly shared. Be mindful about your potential audience and with whom you interact on social media. And don’t pretend to be someone else.
- Be careful about the information you share. Do not post university confidential or proprietary information or information about University of Illinois students, employees or alumni. Illinois employees must adhere to FERPA, HIPAA and other information privacy laws.
- When posting to non-university social media accounts, do not represent yourself as speaking for the university. If your comments might be associated with the university, you should use a disclaimer stating that the posts are your own and do not represent the university’s positions or opinions.
- You cannot use or modify the university logo, wordmark or name for personal purposes, commercial endorsements or promotion of political candidates, partisan political causes or legislation.