Social Media Toolkit for Official University Accounts
Are you interested in having a social media presence or do you already have one on behalf of Liberty University? The tools and resources on this document are intended to help you begin and maintain a successful social media presence.
Before we get started, here are three important questions to consider:
- Who are you trying to engage? Figuring out who you want to have conversation with will help determine which platforms are best for you (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.).
- What would you like to accomplish? Social Media is not just another tool to send out news about your department or promote an event; Social Media requires daily maintenance and a desire to engage with others.
- What is your message? This is probably the most important question. As mentioned above, Social Media is all about connecting, not simply pushing a message. You must be willing to listen to your audience and engage in a manner that is relevant to them.
Purpose of Social Media Presence
Social Media is a growing part of communications at Liberty University. The Marketing Department manages oversight of the university’s central social media presence and provides consulting services to individual departments and offices that participate in this rapidly evolving medium. Liberty University’s official Social Media presence serves these purposes:
- To bolster brand awareness.
- To strengthen loyalty between the university and its constituent groups.
- To add relational value to our community by facilitating meaningful two-way communication.
- To service the university’s marketing and public relations needs.
Liberty University Social Media Policy and Disclaimer
Liberty University has established certain policies to ensure that official University accounts are in compliance with the university’s policies, mission, and vision. Please review this section carefully to verify whether your account is in line with these policies.
- Liberty University’s Marketing Department will maintain the official university presence on social media sites.
- The social media team directs the selection of such sites based on specific goals of Liberty University.
- All members of the social media team will be granted administrative rights or access to all official social media accounts. On Facebook, the social media team will have “Manager” status, while department administrators will have “Content Creator” status.
- University-generated content on any official account is expected to adhere to the Liberty Way and the overall mission of Liberty University.
- If your account is found to be in violation of this standard, it will be subject to termination.
- Official university accounts must adhere to the Brand Identity Guide and Editorial Style.
- In order for an account to be considered as an official university account, the department must first request approval from the Marketing Department. We will create the account and provide Liberty University logos or other brand elements to be used on the account (i.e. profile picture, cover photo, icon, background, etc.).
- University offices and groups that have already created an account without prior approval must contact Marketing in order for the account to be considered an official university account.
- University offices and groups that have not secured approval from Marketing may not use Liberty University logos or other brand elements and will not be considered an official university account.
- Official university accounts must have an appointed employee who is identified as being responsible for that page. That employee will have “Content Creator” status. The Marketing Department will retain “Manager” administrative status on all official university accounts.
- Any changes in the designated administrator(s) should be promptly communicated to the Marketing Department.
- Naming a social media account is very important. Whenever possible, Liberty University, Liberty, or LibertyU should be listed prior to the college, department, or program. This helps to build brand awareness and provide consistency.
- Facebook: Liberty University [insert name]. Example: Liberty University School of Music
- Twitter: LibertyU[insert name] or Liberty[insert name]. Example: @LibertyUCareers or @LibertySA
- The goal for any Liberty University account on a social media site is to bolster brand awareness, strengthen loyalty between the university and its constituent group, add relational value to our community by facilitating two-way communication, and service the university’s marketing and public relations needs.
- Offices with official accounts will be required to provide frequent interaction.
- Administrators of the page should post status updates/tweets and respond to user generated questions and comments. Interaction with site users will increase the success of the account.
- It is in the nature of social websites to provide mechanisms for the engagement of site visitors. As a participant in the dialogue, Liberty University will accept comments and other user-generated content on official accounts. Content that does not abide by our social media policy will be removed. In addition, all negative comments will be removed and users will be banned from the page.
- Social Media Policy and Disclaimer (http://www.liberty.edu/socialmedia)
Liberty University encourages interaction among users on our social media sites but is not responsible for the content of others published on any official University websites, pages, or affiliates. This is including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and all other social media websites.
Due to the public nature of these pages for comment by other users, the views expressed by guest posters do not reflect that of the University or original author. Each person is individually responsible for his/her own content (including privacy settings) shared via the web, and the university is not liable for such content.
Liberty University reserves the right, but is not obligated, to remove comments or posts that are racist, sexist, abusive, profane, violent, obscene, or spam; that advocate illegal activity, include falsehoods, contain commercial solicitations, are wildly off-topic, or cannot be translated to English using free online tools; that libel, incite, threaten, or make ad hominem attacks on Liberty University students, employees, guests or others. Liberty University also reserves the right to remove comments or posts that are deemed negative or offensive by the page’s administrators. Violators will be banned from the page.
Liberty University thanks you in advance for your contributions to the university’s social media pages and for your compliance and assistance in creating a safe and vibrant online community.
Any questions or concerns should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Third-party endorsements on social networks could be inferred to exhibit the institution’s approval of any content linked from the endorsed site or contained within it. The following guidelines are not prescriptive, but merely a framework for decision making.
- Criterion for a Liberty University social media account endorsement:
- Affiliates of Liberty University, our departments, schools, and subsidiaries are eligible for but not guaranteed endorsements.
- Student Clubs or other groups affiliated with the university should be considered on a case-by-case basis and will be approved or denied based on the following criteria by the social media team:
- The event or organization in question does not contradict guidelines established in the Liberty Way.
- The event or organization is valuable and relevant to the students and serves to improve their well-being, knowledge base, and overall experience at Liberty University.
- The event or organization does not conflict or compete with other events/organizations/departments that are hierarchically superior/more closely affiliated with the university.
- The post/tweet does not require follow-up or monitoring (subject to time limits and personnel).
This section includes a description of the most common Social Media platforms.
Please do not create a Social Media account without first talking to the Marketing Department. Liberty is very strategic in its use of these different platforms and we ask that departments refrain from creating their own accounts.
Facebook — an online social utility that connects people and organizations with friends and others who work, study, live, and engage around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, to share links, to share photos and videos of themselves and their friends, and to learn more about people and organizations. Facebook offers brand pages as a way for organizations to connect and engage with their fan base.
Twitter — a micro-blogging and social utility service that allows its users to send and read messages known as tweets, text-based posts of no more than 140 characters. People use Twitter to share and view links, pictures, videos, opinions, news, professional information, personal status, and more. Organizations use this tool as a way to disseminate information quickly and to a large audience. This also allows organizations to listen to conversations about their brand and connect with other users on a more personal level.
Instagram — a photo sharing network that allows users to upload photos or videos taken with a phone or tablet and apply special image filters through the app. The photos and videos can be shared within the Instagram network or throughout other popular social networks.
LinkedIn — a business-oriented online social utility that allows users to strengthen and extend one’s existing network of trusted contacts. People use LinkedIn to stay informed about contacts and their industry of interest. Companies have not only a company page but also the ability to create groups to allow like-minded individuals to connect.
YouTube — a video sharing website on which users can view, upload, and share videos and comments on other’s videos. Liberty University currently maintains two official YouTube accounts – one for all departments within the university and one for athletics. All department videos that need to be uploaded to YouTube should be housed under Liberty’s official channel.
Pinterest — favored by women, this platform allows users to "pin" images from any web page to boards on their profiles. Common topics of boards are crafts, recipes, home decor, and fashion. Businesses are starting to use Pinterest, and Liberty has found this tool useful in sharing images of campus, athletics, alumni, Convocation speakers, dorm room décor, study tips, Bible verses, and inspiration.
Snapchat — an application where users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. The sent photographs and videos are known as “Snaps”. The users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps, after which they will be hidden from the recipient’s device. Several universities use this application to engage with current and potential students.
Foursquare — lets your friends know where you are, and for you to know where they are. You can also collect points, prizes, and "badges." Liberty University has an official page where all university locations are mapped out for people to check-in.
This section includes well-known best practices within the Social Media world. Most importantly, think before you post, double-check for spelling and grammar errors, and keep in mind that anything posted is in the public domain and can be used against you or the university.
Fill out your profile completely. Users may visit your Facebook page or Twitter profile before visiting your website. Make sure all the information in your profile is accurate and up-to-date. Include as much information as you can fit, the most important being your website, telephone number, and a concise description of your department.
Build your fan base. As you start to engage with the right individuals and organizations, you naturally begin to build your fan base — it’s the organic way of doing things on the social Web.
In addition to that, once you’ve developed a solid presence, part of your fan-, friend-, and follower-growth strategy should include promoting your presence on social-media sites to your current supporter base. You can do this by putting social-media links on your main website and sending e-mail communications to your housefile, letting all your supporters know where to find you on the various social-networking sites you participate on.
Listen to your fans. Social Media provides a great way to listen to what people are saying about your brand. Monitor your Facebook page and Twitter mentions constantly but spend some time searching for what people are saying outside of your pages. Your department may not have the budget to invest in a robust social media monitoring tool, but there are plenty of free monitoring and listening tools available to you:
Create meaningful relationships. Although it’s extremely important to listen to your fans, don’t just listen - talk back and engage with them. If a person is asking a question, provide them with an answer in a timely manner. If they are complimenting you, thank them. If they are complaining about you, find ways to resolve the situation for them. Social Media allows you to build a relationship with your fans, but you must be willing to engage with them.
Share useful information and content. Think of participating on Social Media like you think about your website. Would people come back if you failed to update your website with useful information on a regular basis? Doubtful. The same holds true on Social Media, so make sure to consistently share great content that’s relevant and useful to your fan base. The key is that you become valuable by sharing useful content.
With every status update and/or tweet, always try to accomplish these three goals:
Clear purpose – What is the purpose of this status update/tweet?
Clear value – What value does this present to my fans/followers?
Clear action – What do I want my fans/followers to do after they read this status update/tweet?
Be timely. Social media operates on an immediate schedule. Resolving issues in a timely, reliable manner is a fundamental part of excellent customer support. Don’t wait days before answering or responding to posts on your wall or tweets. If you’re unsure of the answer or have to work some things out before posting an accurate answer, tell the user that you will get back to them as soon as you have an answer.
Stay current. Social Media is constantly changing, evolving, and growing. Dedicate some time each week to look over websites and blogs to discover what new practices can be adopted in your accounts.
Twitter Cheat Sheet
- Tweet between “busy hours” (8am-7pm) for higher engagement
- Tweet four times per day or less
- Use less than 120 characters per Tweet; 100 characters is ideal (tweets with 140 characters are often hard to Retweet)
- Add links to Tweets to drive higher retweet rates - ensure links are not broken
- Use images to drive the highest engagement
- Use a “Retweet” or “RT” call to action to prompt followers to Retweet
- Use @ to talk with other users. e.g. "@LibertyU Thanks for the useful information!"
- Hashtags, signified by #, make it easier for users to find Tweets with a specific theme or topic. Many trending topics have a # before them
- Include hashtags in Tweets, but don’t use more than two per Tweet
- The most popular topics on Twitter are known as Trending. These are listed on the left-hand side of the homepage
- DM is short for direct message, which is used to conduct private conversations
Facebook Cheat Sheet
- Post outside of normal business hours – between 9am-7pm and Thursdays and Fridays for higher engagement
- Facebook allows you to schedule posts in advance
- Keep your posts short – ideally less than 80 characters (66% higher engagement)
- Don’t post more than two times a day as this may cause some of your fans to “hide” your posts from appearing on their news feeds
- Ideal frequency of status updates for a Facebook page is about 5-10 updates per week
- Value the type of content you are posting
- Status updates (just text)
- To build interaction, ask questions
- Be direct with your fans. Include keywords in your posts such as, “like,” “comment,” “post,” “share,” etc.
- Leverage your Facebook insights and look into your fan base demographics to determine when and what to post