Social media offers us a great opportunity to reach and engage our audience in a meaningful, authentic way with measurable results.
This guidance outlines social media best practice at the University, providing a breakdown of the major platforms’ capabilities with an overview your responsibilities as an account owner.
Advice and support
Before starting a new social media account, talk to your faculty marketing team and, or, digital communications. We can talk through the accounts which already exist and what to consider in starting a new one.
Our six social media principles
The University follows a set of key principles which apply to all social media platforms and their respective owners:
1. Go to your audience
Building a new following on a new social channel takes a lot of time, resource, and budget. The University has a wide range of existing social media accounts, so take a look at the major accounts already in use either from a central University level, or in your local faculty or school. The University encourages collaboration around social media, and working with others with similar audiences and objectives can save time and money. Further, different channels are used in different ways by our audience groups. This guidance covers the major platforms and who uses them.
2. Safety and security
Keeping your accounts safe is important. You should ensure your passwords are secure, complex and regularly updated. The IT website offers guidance on selecting and storing passwords, with further advice on using passwords and keeping them safe.
If you establish a University-related account, you are responsible for ensuring its legacy. Should you leave the University or transition to a new role, you must transfer ownership to a colleague or close the account.
3. Personal vs professional
When establishing your new channel, you need to decide if the account represents:
- your own identity as the account owner or
- a group, institution or body in the University’s name.
Often, and particularly in an academic environment, dedicating time to developing your own personal account can be more valuable then setting up numerous professional accounts for projects or groups.
Personal accounts are more ‘portable’ than institutional accounts, meaning should you move on, you can take your personal accounts with you. For advice, contact Martin Carter in Digital Communications at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you run or set-up an account in the University’s name – for your school, service or institute – please make sure you and anyone with access has completed the social media training provided by Organisation Development and Professional Learning (formerly called SDDU).
Ensure you have clear contact points and responsibilities for the account, including agreed plans for how to escalate any issues and out of hours cover.
4. Relevancy and value
Most social media networks run on algorithms, which determine how content is displayed to users. The underlying principle to getting your content to the most people is relevance and value.
Ask yourself whether content you create is both relevant and valuable to your user. Using that as a quality check before you post will ensure you are sharing content that is truly newsworthy and useful for your audience.
For example: a post stating that libraries will be shut over Easter is relevant to current students, but also including a link to ‘online resources and 24 hour IT clusters’ adds value to the content.
Your account should only exist if your feed offers value to the user, faculty or service. Poorly maintained social media accounts with weak content or no clear audience are potentially brand-damaging for the University.
Social media content relies heavily upon its aesthetic quality. Our design guidance will assist you in the creation of content which makes the most impact.
Accounts which use the University’s name should follow our design and branding principles, upholding brand consistency and a standard of quality which reflects our history and stature.
Don’t forget: many laws around copyright of images and video apply online as they do elsewhere, so ensure you have the correct permissions for everything you use.
6. Measuring success
Social media success should be measured by the value it brings to your objectives, and we’ll soon be sharing guidance on best practice when it comes to measuring your social media performance.
Paid-for activity on social media
Advertising on the University’s social media accounts is co-ordinated by the the Digital Marketing team. If you are interested in using digital advertising – on social media, or other digital channels – please contact digital marketing, email@example.com
Download the social media guidelines for creators, commissioners and designers in the Guidelines section.
Read more about getting the most from social media in research and education.