Social Media GuideOverview
Getting Started Best Practices Tips
CSU, Chico Social Media
No matter who you are or where you work, social media is an essential tool of the modern era. This is especially true for universities hoping to engage their broad internal and external audiences of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, community members and more.
In recent years, Public Affairs & Publications has engaged in a comprehensive effort to broaden California State University, Chico’s social media presence and increase interactions with our target audiences. These efforts stretched across platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and blogging platform Wordpress, with targeted approaches to each outlet. Our social media strategy focuses on maintaining, engaging, and garnering new media consumers to enhance affinity for the University and both write and share the story of the Chico Experience with our audiences.
We want to help those in the Chico State community interested in launching their own official social media presence by sharing what we’ve learned and how we can help. By coordinating efforts across the campus, we can create a unified social media identity for the University while promoting the unique attributes of individual programs and departments.
This guide gives an overview of some of the various social media outlets available (by no means comprehensive), information on how to set up and maintain different platforms, and best practice tips and resources to help you create an effective social media presence.
Anything posted on a California State University, Chico social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Wordpress,etc.) should be in good taste and appropriate for all audiences.
CSU, Chico reserves the right to delete comments deemed inappropriate by the site administrators. These comments include but are not limited to political endorsements or banter, outside links, mudslinging or defamation, personal attacks, advertisements and promotions of any sort, and spam.
Comments and photos shared on a CSU, Chico social media sites may be used by CSU, Chico in other platforms.
As a participant in California State University, Chico’s social media efforts, you take personal responsibility for your comments, your user name, and any information you choose to provide. Please do not post personal information such as phone numbers and addresses.
Each faculty, staff, and student user of CSU, Chico’s computer communications systems is responsible for the material that he or she chooses to send or display using the campus computing/communication resources.
Most books, journals, magazines, photographs, art, sound recordings, computer programs, and websites are protected by copyright law. In addition, architecture, motion pictures, and dance choreography can also be protected by the law. So when you use ideas, words or phrases, images, or sounds from another source, be sure to seek out the copyright holder and obtain permission before you include that work in your social media copy.
For more details, refer to the Use of Copyrighted Materials page on the Meriam Library website.
“Plagiarism is the use of someone else's work, including words, ideas, projects and/or any other material without citing the source.” (Policy on Academic Integrity and the Establishment of the Academic Integrity Council; Revised Executive Memorandum 04-036)
You can seek permission to post someone else’s images, words, and ideas, but social media also allows you to “share” (Facebook) or “retweet” (Twitter) posts from other sources, and that’s the best way to pass along someone else’s work. See the blog Tweet Unto Others: Social Media Plagiarism for more discussion of this subject.
See also “Photo Policy,” CSU, Chico’s University Publication Guide
Posting photos on your social media sites is an effective way to generate engagement, but it’s important to follow a couple simple guidelines to avoid violating intellectual property rights or individual privacy.
Never use a photo from another source without permission from the copyright holder of that photo. If you’re shooting photos in a public space, such as outside a building on campus, you do not need to secure permission from people you photograph. But, if you shoot photos inside a building or at a non-public event we recommend that you get written permission from everyone in your photos. If you photograph minors, you need permission from their guardians or parents. You can print the standard CSU image release forms from the Web in English or Spanish: https://www.calstate.edu/brand/resources/
This guide will give an overview of some of the most popular social media platforms (the ones on which we have an official CSU, Chico presence), but it is by no means comprehensive. The world of technology and social platforms changes so rapidly, it is difficult to predict whether “the next big thing” will become “the next big flop” before you know it, so it is important to evaluate a platform before you launch. Since most of us have limited time and resources to dedicate to maintaining a social media presence, we can’t be everywhere, and must choose based on our audience and purpose.
Facebook is the world’s most popular social network. It allows users to create personal profiles and connect with “friends” to create a vast online community. Organizations can capitalize on this audience by posting status updates, photos, videos, and more to their “fans,” who then share them with their friends. Frequent interactions and sharing of content encourages new fans to “like” your page and create a lasting relationship with your organization.
A pioneer of “micro-blogging,” Twitter allows users to post frequent 140-character or less updates. “Followers” can subscribe to receive your updates, reply to you, or “retweet” (share) your content. You can build on this community by sharing news and links (to your website or other social media platforms) and encouraging interaction.
Blogs, which feature longer posts such as event information, student/alumni profiles, program news, etc., are perhaps the simplest media to maintain, as they do not need frequent updating. Viewers can also subscribe to receive e-mail updates when you post.
Foursquare users “check in” to different locations via their computer or mobile phone with the goal of receiving virtual points, badges, and tips. A program (a department advising office, for example) can create tips and specials for those who “check in” to their office, increasing user interaction.
YouTube is a video-sharing network that allows users to upload content for public consumption. Videos posted on YouTube can be shared via Facebook or Twitter and embedded in blogs for easy viewing.
It’s helpful to consider the following before creating social media accounts for your department:
What audiences are we trying to engage?
Social media platforms can target different audiences, so deciding which audience(s) you want to engage will help direct you to the platform which best suits your needs.
Facebook– current/prospective students, parents, and alumni
The Study Abroad Office uses Facebook to connect Study Abroad students with one another, and promote programs through use of photo and video footage.
Twitter– current/prospective students, recent alumni, education-related groups and institutions
The Admissions Office uses Twitter to inform students of upcoming deadlines and important information regarding admission status and application process.
YouTube & Blog Sites– general public and target markets/industries
The Concrete Industry Management program uses a WordPress blog to update the public on the progress of the 2011 Preservation Field School at Alcatraz.
Do we have a designated staff member to maintain and coordinate the site?
It’s not necessary to assign a specific staff member to social media, but one may be helpful if you are attempting to build a strong social media presence. Many departments have student assistants who work with a supervisor to maintain their platforms (See Maintenance).
Not ready to launch your own social media site?
The Office of Public Affairs and Publications can help by posting your messages on our social media sites.
Check out successful social media accounts from CSU, Chico and other universities or programs similar to your own. Note the frequency of their updates and the kinds of content they post. A little research can help you develop goals or strategies for an effective social media presence.
Use Campus Announcements and Student Announcements, as well as e-mail lists and notices on your website to let potential audiences know of your social media sites. Also, use your other social media platforms to promote new additions. Inviting other CSU, Chico programs to be your “fan” or “follower” can help connect you with the University’s broad online community.Let Public Affairs and Publications know when you’re getting started! We can help you set up and promote new sites, as well as help you track results. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are several advantages to having a social media site, but if activity is minimal or inconsistent, the site will be ineffective. Therefore, it’s helpful to have a designated individual or team responsible for keeping content fresh and relevant.
Depending on the platform you choose, the time requirements will differ. The initial set-up of the social media sites will take a couple of hours (depending on the enhancements you choose), but once they are launched, you can expect a maintenance schedule close to the one listed below.
Between posting new content, interacting with users, and updating photos and other media, expect to spend at least 20-45 minutes a day maintaining communication via your Facebook page. It’s a good habit to check the page a few times a day to reply to users and keep the conversation consistent.
Twitter is a micro-blogging site where a single post contains a maximum of 140 characters. To create an effective presence on Twitter, you need a constant flow of updates and posts. The timeline feed on Twitter has a very rapid pace, and it’s easy for posts to be skimmed or missed entirely. Depending on how many tweets you want to create, you could spend 15 to 45 minutes a day on Twitter.
If you are writing blog posts yourself, the time you spend working on WordPress will be 1 to 2 hours a week. If you are recruiting guest bloggers to write interesting pieces for your blog, there are a few additional processes, including communication with authors, editing, and publicizing. This approach to blogging takes 2 to 3 hours a week.
In the social media world, it’s important to keep track of a few critical numbers to gauge your impact with the online community.
Facebook has created a great built-in analytics program called “Insights.” As you maintain your page, you should explore the “Insights” button on the right side of the profile page. This analytics overview provides basic user statistics, including daily, weekly, and monthly activity, as well as page content feedback, comments, and “likes.” In addition to these details, “Insights” provides useful demographic information, including gender and age, location, and external referrers (outside sites that refer viewers to your Facebook site).
Unfortunately, Twitter has not created a handy analytics tool yet, but there is still crucial information you can record to determine your influence. We recommend you keep track of the following categories on Twitter: number of tweets, followers, retweets, and @replies.
WordPress blogs have an information box titled “Stats” on the user dashboard. The basic statistics include the number of views per day, top searches, and top posts. If you delve further into the analytics program, you can find which sites are referring viewers to the blog, subscription information, and other statistics.
YouTube also has a built-in analytics program. For content uploaded to the official ChicoStateChannel, Public Affairs & Publications will be able to provide you with information regarding video views, thumbs up/thumbs down numbers, comment reviews, and demographics. Contact email@example.com for help with this.
CSU, Chico social media sites should be CSU, Chico-branded with both textual and logo references. Keep the format consistent so it becomes familiar to your audience. See the Graphic Standards in the CSU, Chico Publications Guide for more information.
Content can be copied and forwarded once it’s posted on the Internet, so use good judgment in the topics and language you choose. Everything you post on an official CSU, Chico social media account reflects on the University. Be respectful of your readers and their opinions and comments.
Understand the audience(s) you are trying to reach and choose your language and tone to fit them. You want a genuine voice and conversational tone, but keep unrelated personal information out of your official CSU, Chico social media postings.
It’s likely that at some point a reader will post questionable content. You can ignore most negative comments. The social media environment is extremely fast-paced. An occasional negative comment will not harm your reputation, and you can appear small minded by engaging in negative banter or extending a negative conversation. However, do counter inaccurate statements with accurate facts.
Delete all posts involving political endorsements or banter, unrelated outside links, mudslinging or defamation, advertisements and promotions of any sort, or SPAM.
All official CSU, Chico social media accounts reserve the right to delete comments that are deemed inappropriate. Contact Public Affairs and Publications if you want help dealing with questionable comments.
Pages vs. Groups
As a university entity, you should be launching and maintaining a Facebook page, not a group or individual profile.
- Pages communicate broadly with people who “like” them. Pages may be created and managed only by official representatives of the organization.
- Groups provide a closed space for small groups of people to communicate about shared interests. Groups can be created by anyone.
Name your page to clearly and concisely identify your specific program. Do not name your page in a way that might be confused with a page representing the entire University or any other CSU, Chico program.
Add the institution name “CSU, Chico,” or “Chico State” before your unit name, e.g., “Chico State Admissions,” not “Admissions at CSU, Chico” or simply “Admissions.” If necessary, a long dash can separate the institution and unit names.
Correct usages might include:
- CSU, Chico English Department
- CSU, Chico – Office of Public Affairs and Publications
- Chico State Study Abroad
Attach YouTube video links right to your post, so it’s available for viewing directly on your Facebook wall.
Post photos to your page through Facebook photos and tag the official California State University, Chico page. By tagging CSU, Chico, followers of the university page will be able to view your images and more traffic will be directed to your page.
It’s fine to repost information on Facebook from Twitter and other media, but be sure to reword the post and remove hashtags. Try to put a different spin on the story.
Tag people in posts—other colleges, people, etc.—with the hope that they will repost your information. Tag other users, pages, or events by using “@NAME” in your post.
Look for post sources from both Chico State (e.g., @chicostate) and beyond campus (e.g., news websites). Aim for a mix of fact and color in your tweet posts. Keep your tone conversational and respectful; avoid a reporting tone—“Smith said xxx” or “Public Affairs reports that xxx.”
You can “tag” a post by prefacing a word with the pound sign (#). This hashtag makes it easy for readers to search posts by topic. Use both internal and external hashtags. To create a new hashtag, just include the new word (e.g., #ChicoStateRecycles) in a tweet. Provide some context for the new hashtag so users can grasp its meaning (e.g., “AS Recycling increases composting options on campus! Look for bins @ BMU Marketplace! #ChicoStateRecycles”).
Limit the number of hashtags per tweet to a maximum of three. Don’t use hashtags at the beginning of a tweet because Twitter occasionally has technical issues that can delete these tweets.
Tweet on topic and with a consistent frequency. This helps keep readers engaged. Decide how many tweets you want to make per day and week, and work to reach that goal. But don’t tweet if you have nothing new to say, as this can result in boring posts. Five to 10 tweets per day, including retweets and @mention responses, is a good goal.
News-worthy and fun content is appropriate for retweeting because they tend to promote user engagement. Tweets that continue a positive image of your department are always worth retweeting. Using the RT button rather than copy and paste helps you avoid duplication and plagiarism in feeds. Limit your post to 125-130 characters to make it easier for retweeters.
Reply to a tweet or a question directed to you by clicking the “reply” button at the bottom of the original post. With this feature, you can easily add to the content or answer a question, and it automatically inserts the username of the person you’re replying to. Your reply will be visible to your followers, and it can be seen by recipients in their “@Mentions” tab on their homepage.
Direct Messages (DMs) are good for exchanging contact information and other non-public information. But automatic direct message responses are impersonal, so avoid using them (e.g., “Thanks for following us. Check out our website!”). Don’t write anything in a DM that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see. DMs are usually private, but you never know when a technical malfunction might make your post public.
Links and Multimedia
Display your Twitter feed on your website, giving site visitors a direct link to updates and giving you an easy way to promote your program.
Official CSU, Chico accounts should “follow” all other official CSU, Chico Twitter accounts, so we can help each other promote our programs.
Posts and Multimedia
Strive to have at least one post per week. Readers want to be able to anticipate new information, so consistency is vital. But stay on topic; it’s better to not post than to post something off topic. In general, a graphic or video and 100-300 words is a good goal.
Promote your blog by posting about it on Twitter, Facebook, Campus Announcements, and Student Announcements.
CSU, Chico has an official YouTube channel where it hosts clips and videos related to Chico State. Having your video on the Chico State YouTube channel will reach the largest possible audience. To have your video uploaded to the official YouTube channel, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org with a video title and short description.
Five Tips for Success
Adapted from “Waterloo Social Media Guidelines.”
1. Have a conversation.
Social media is about connecting with people. It’s important to listen to what your audience is saying, respond appropriately, and ask open-ended questions that encourage interaction and connection. Use conversational language and tone, but be respectful, clear, and correct.
2. Be clear.
When you maintain a social media site that represents a university program, it’s your responsibility to clearly state your role and goals. Don’t try to hide your identity as a Chico State employee.
3. Be precise.
Check your facts before you post. Cite your sources and provide links whenever possible.
4. Be careful.
Don’t post a comment if you feel angry or upset; wait until you can write with a clear head. Social media is not private. Anything you write on a social media platform can be copied and forwarded, and search engines can retrieve comments years after they were posted. Deleted posts are often saved in archival systems.
5. Get a second opinion.
Know when you can respond directly to users and when you need approval from your supervisor. When you have questions about what material is appropriate to write about, ask your supervisor before you post or contact Public Affairs.
CSU, Chico................................. @ChicoState
*Use @ChicoState instead of a hashtag.
CSU, Chico................................. #CSU Chico
Chico State Athletics.................... #Wildcats
Chico State Athletics.................... #ChicoWildcats
Chico, Ca.................................... #ChicoCA
Higher Ed.................................... #HigherEd
Management & Analytics
Bitly - link shortening and click rates
HootSuite - manage multiple platforms and gather analytics
TwitPic - uploads photos to Twitter
“Introduction to Social Media” - An interactive presentation introducing social media platforms and strategies
“Social Media at Colorado State University” - Comprehensive guide for getting started and understanding copyright laws.
CASE Social Media - Blog focused on social media strategies for universities from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
The Social Media Guide – Website containing the latest news and tips for social media.