Before creating a social media account that represents the University of Virginia, please review the following.
Note that this pertains to the academic division of the University - if you are part of the University of Virginia Health System, please refer to their Social Media Guidelines. For questions about creating a Virginia Athletics account, please contact Kevin Thurman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If, after reviewing the below, you would like a consultation or assistance, please email Kelly Kauffman at email@example.com.
First, we highly recommend that you take the following steps:
- Review the “Electronic Communications and Social Media” document from the State of Virginia. This covers many basic questions, including prohibitions on posting inappropriate content.
- Review the resources on this page, including the guide to developing a social media content strategy.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and University affiliation to be added to relevant social media user listservs and to the directory of UVA accounts.
- Join the UVA Social Media Managers Facebook Group
Developing a Social Media Strategy
Consider the following questions:
- Does your department or office have an existing communications strategy, and are these social media accounts aligned with it?
- What are your goals for these social accounts?
- Who are your intended audiences?
- What social media platforms are best to reach those audiences?
- What type of content will you share on these accounts?
- Who will have the login credentials? Make sure at least two people within the office have access. If possible, use a shared email address to register the accounts.
- How often will you post?
Note that social media is a tool to help you engage with and communicate to your audiences, but it is not simply a megaphone; it is also a place to listen and to converse. It is important to develop a strategy that fulfils your communications objectives and offers something valued by those you want to reach.
Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms
Keep in mind how much time your office or department can dedicate to social media, and resist the urge to join every available platform.
If you are unsure of which platforms are most relevant to your audiences, the Pew Research Center’s Social Media Fact Sheet is a good place to start, as it offers basic demographic information on the popularity and adoption of major social media platforms. Just interested in talking to students? LinkedIn might not be for you. Are faculty your core audience? Perhaps Snapchat isn’t right.
Once you have established a social strategy and created your accounts, it is important to have high-quality content that supports your goals.
Crowdsourcing Content for Social
Across social media platforms, it is important to have a mix of content generated from your department or organization and content from other sources. If your group develops useful content, use it. However, we also recommend sharing content that speaks to your audience; think about and measure what they find most engaging.
Content can be user-generated from your followers, UVA students, faculty members or other UVA social accounts. Follow the news and video produced by University Communications in the event its relevant to your audiences. If you are on Twitter, follow the “University twitters” list for a sense of what other accounts within the University are posting. Ask questions, monitor your mentions, and be interactive.
Sharing a daily picture of the Rotunda will drive high engagement rates, but it may also raise questions about the intentions of your strategic messaging. Inversely, posting information that supports your core mission, but that generates zero social engagement, is not a sustainable approach.
Scheduling your content will help you keep track and keep your account active, even if you are not able to check your accounts frequently.
Here are a few options to schedule your content on social:
- Facebook offers the option to schedule content within the platform. This is sometimes viewed as preferable to using third-party services to schedule on FB because of a perception that Facebook offers less reach to content scheduled through other services.
- Tweetdeck for Twitter
- Services such as Hootsuite allow one-stop scheduling for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, with a rolling cost structure depending on your use of the platform.
The first step to measuring success is to define what it means with regard to your social media activities.
Here are some examples:
- Do you want your audience to head to your website? If you are looking for more clicks to your site, then monitor and measure the amount of traffic you drive.
- Are you looking to gain more awareness about your department or office? If your department or office is newly established, then you might want to measure success by follower growth, impressions or engagement rates (likes, comments, shares) with your content
- Are you looking for more attendance to your events? You could measure the engagement on your Facebook event posts, etc.
Keep in mind that these are just a few examples – closely aligning your strategic objectives to tactical actions makes the next part much easier.
Analytics and Reporting
If you are creating a business profile, many social accounts (including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) offer their own analytics. Often, you can export them directly from the platform (Twitter, Facebook). Instagram offers analytics, but only through the app.
There is much more data available here than is possible to use, so take a look at what is available, decide which metrics are most important to you, and set up ways to systemically monitor them. Many services, such as Hootsuite, will offer a tool to deliver automated monthly reports.
If UVA is involved in a crisis or negative issue that is dominating social conversation, remember that addressing it via social media posts from a UVA account is much the same as issuing a press release or speaking on behalf of the University. Official university statements are coordinated with University leadership and can be found from the primary UVA accounts.
Likewise, if a national emergency or crisis unrelated to UVA dominates social conversation, make sure to consider the appropriateness of your scheduled posts. You want to avoid unintentionally appearing tone deaf or unaware of current events.
We encourage open discussion about the topics we post but we do reserve the right to moderate discussion on University of Virginia social media accounts and to remove posts that contain:
- Profane or obscene content
- Off-topic content;
- Content that promotes, fosters or perpetuates discrimination against protected classes;
- Sexual harassment content;
- Conduct or encouragement of illegal activity;
- Spam or comments that include links to external online sites;
- Solicitations of commerce or advertisements including promotion or endorsement;
- Promotions of particular services, products or political candidates or organizations;
- Information that may tend to compromise the safety or security of the public or public systems
Violators may have their comments removed from the University's social media platforms. Continued or egregious violations of this policy may prompt the University to further restrict an individual's commenting on University social media platforms. In certain situations, the poster, as well as the content, may be reported to authorities, depending on the nature of the content.
Posts that refer to specific individuals or offices within the UVA community as part of the complaint, concern, or compliment will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the circumstances, at the discretion of page administrators, the post or comment may be removed.
Users who have concerns about specific conduct can contact Rob Seal at email@example.com to report them.
The University of Virginia is not responsible for the content posted by participants on any of its pages, nor does its existence constitute endorsement of the content by the University.
Participants understand that they are ultimately responsible for the content they post, and as such, understand legal issues may arise from the content they post, and that the University of Virginia is not responsible for those outcomes.
Joining UVA’s social media community
Here is how to connect with other social media managers at UVA: