Social media is a powerful tool used to share information, highlight campus life, engage with audiences, and create a sense of community among followers. The University of Alabama in Huntsville utilizes a variety of social media platforms to achieve these goals while communicating directly with an audience of current and prospective students, faculty and staff, alumni, parents and families of current and prospective students, along with local community organizations. Social media is an ever-growing tool that has a significant impact on the reputation of the university, allowing us to convey our mission and values to our community and build support for the university, and it is important that these channels are managed with intent and integrity. Main university channels along with university-affiliated channels can be found via our Social Media Directory. If you currently manage a university-affiliated social media account that is not listed, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with links to your channels so we can update our list. UAH retains the right to remove accounts that become inactive over time. While these guidelines have been drawn up by the Office of Marketing & Communication, they are only guidelines. If your department or area leadership have identified preferred modes of operation (ie. forwarding inquiries to responsible parties as opposed to answering commenters or messages directly, etc.) then of course, those operations should be followed. These guidelines were drawn up using industry best practices, first-hand experience, and user and content testing, and have been written in an effort to support and inform the UAH campus community. Setting Up New Accounts Social media is a great platform to expand your digital presence and reach your target audience. If you’d like to set up a new social media account for your college or department, please review the following best practices and guidelines. Before creating an account: Define your goals and objectives Define your target audience and what their needs are Be sure you have a designated person or team to manage the platform as it can become time consuming Ensure there is not already an existing account for your department Have a clear plan and outlined objectives Once you have gone through this process, if you still intend to create an account you should determine a manager. Accounts should be set up using your UAH account email addresses - not personal email addresses. Designate at least two managers for the account and inform OMC of the managers as we will be keeping a directory. Content generation can be done by several people, but your primary manager is going to manage and moderate the page and ensure that the account stays current and active and that goals are being met. This person should be a staff member, not a student worker or an intern, so that the primary manager can control user access as those positions turn over. If you’re able, establish a backup person for the manager role to take over when you are out or on vacation. Next you should determine which platforms you’d like to be on. Trying to create too many accounts could spread you too thin and lead to several unsuccessful social media platforms. Focus on where your target demographic is and don’t take on too much too fast. It is not necessary to have a profile on every platform. When you create your profile, be sure to use university provided logos and make your department easily identifiable in your about/bio sections. Email email@example.com with the link to your profile(s) to be added to our Social Media Directory. Create a consistent posting schedule and stick to it. When creating content, be sure the images and text are representing the University with integrity and following the University Brand Guidelines whenever applicable. Social Media Guidelines Remember that social media is about community and conversation. Know who you’re trying to reach (your ‘target audience’) and create content that is specific to that demographic. Social media is an ongoing conversation and it is important for your profile to stay active and engaged and to know who you are talking to and what their needs are. No harassment, discrimination, profane or obscene language will be tolerated. Do your best to not spam your audience with the same message or action request. Do your best to build a brand voice and create a well-rounded picture of your college or department. We recommend following the 80/20 rule, which recommends that 80% of your posts be useful to your audience and only 20% should be explicitly promoting your business. Decide how much you want to be posting per week and build a schedule. We recommend creating a social media schedule to help you stay consistent and on track with your posting goals. Do not post copyrighted material, misinformation, spam, content unrelated to the topic of the university or the community, or anything that violates confidentiality or privacy laws such as FERPA or HIPAA. Be sure to get permission to post images of students. Participate in campus wide campaigns, but cater the content to your audience. Make your voice stand out while still maintaining consistency with the University Logo & Brand Guidelines. Be safe on the internet. Assume everything you post will live online forever in front of a worldwide audience. Be sure to separate your personal and professional social media presences, be aware of your privacy settings, get permission when posting photos or information about students, faculty, staff or alumni, be cautious of spam comments or private messages, and be sure to double check your facts as well as spelling and grammar before you post. Social Media Best Practices Be Respectful: Every community member is deserving of respect. Treat everyone with equal care, and never engage in an argument via a University affiliated social media account. Be Active: Being active on social media is essential to building an engaged community and creating a space to share essential information. There is no set rule for the frequency of posting, but keep in mind that the social media realm moves quickly and staying current and relevant is vital to maintaining and building your audience. Build a schedule that your team can maintain and stick to it. Listen and Monitor: Social media is more than just a one sided promotion, it is an ongoing active conversation. Listen to what your audience is posting and interacting with and work to create content that meets their needs. Listen to your competitors in the industry and see what is working and how you can apply it to your own strategy. Be sure to check and monitor your comments sections consistently. If you are unsure how to handle a particular comment, please refer to our Comment Management Guide or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. Engage: While scheduling tools make content creation a lot easier to manage, it is still important to go back and view your posts and engage with your audience. Like comments, respond to questions, don’t leave your audience hanging. Remember, it’s a conversation! Strive for accuracy: Don’t share posts or links from unreputable sources, and don’t share information unless you know it to be true. Check your facts and ensure you are giving correct content to your audience. Promote inclusivity and diversity: Refer to UAH’s mission, vision and core values and ensure your posts and tone align with these beliefs. Ensure that your posts are inclusive and accessible. Represent the university with integrity: Everything online is permanent so be sure you are doing everything you can to represent the university well. Check all spelling and grammar before you post, and be sure to review the UAH Logo and Brand Guidelines to ensure consistent branding campus wide. Keep your personal beliefs and feelings off of university social media accounts, and do not post confidential information about the University, its students, faculty, staff, or alumni. Accessibility: Whenever possible, make your social media content accessible to everyone. Posts with images should have alt text or an image description. Videos should always have captioning. Comment Management Guide Although we behave with respect and integrity on our social media channels, we can’t control the way others act on the internet. Not all comments will be positive or kind. When managing social media, it is important to have a standard for handling comments that are not positive or proactive, as they don’t immediately warrant deletion. Is the comment directly insulting and off-topic? This includes name-calling, inappropriate language, and direct targeting of an individual. Feel free to hide or delete the comment. Do not engage. Is the comment trolling or intentionally trying to start an argument? Do not engage, but moderate the comment for any additional interaction or commentary. If it escalates to more comments being insulting and argumentative, then delete the original comment in the thread and any additional commentary as needed. Is the comment asking a question about University information that is listed on our website? Direct them to a specific webpage that answers their question if you are certain the information is accurate, or copy-paste the answer to their question from the website with a date included, ie. “As of March 23rd 2022, the UAH website states that the Spring 2022 Commencement ceremony will be Monday, May 2, 2022. Times for each college and additional details will be posted here when they are finalized https://www.uah.edu/registrar/commencement Is the comment asking a question that is not easily accessible on our website? Do your best to give information of who to best contact regarding the question or comment, and encourage the commenter to reach out via email to the proper party. Have additional questions about a comment? Often these situations have to be handled on a case-by-case basis. Send a screenshot of the comment to Paola Pinto for review at email@example.com. Do not take any further action until you hear a response.