Social media is an important part of how we, as a university, communicate with our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and other key audiences. Social media can help us enhance the University's reputation, increase visibility for our initiatives, engage new audiences, and promote news and accomplishments.
Take a look at the social media channels we manage:
Our essential guide for all employees who manage social networks on behalf of UConn is located below. Please review.
Following the guidelines below will help social media managers develop a successful online presence and avoid potential problems.
Social media accounts should only be created for UConn's Schools, Colleges, and departments. Do not create accounts for events, conferences, or any potentially temporary topics or initiatives. Exceptions may be requested by emailing Leann Hennessey, firstname.lastname@example.org
All UConn social media accounts should be administered by at least two full-time staff or faculty members. Students may assist with accounts, but should not be the sole administrators/managers.
Before creating a new account, you should seek written approval from the marketing liaison for your School, College, division, or campus.
Note: University policies place restrictions on who may approve contracts and formal agreements. The terms and conditions associated with the creation of many social media accounts are often viewed as formal agreements. Please carefully consider whether written approval from the dean, vice president, or vice provost of your School, College, or division may be required.
All accounts created on behalf of the University should begin with 'UConn' and be followed with the name of your division, department, etc. For example: UConn School of Engineering, UConn Alumni Association, UConn School of Law. Following this naming convention supports University branding and helps users when they search for our pages and accounts.
All social media accounts created on behalf of the University at our regional campuses must also adhere to these same naming guidelines. For example: UConn Stamford Center for Career Development (@UConnStamfordCCD).
Note: UConn should always be written with a mix of capital and lowercase letters - never with all caps. The UConn wordmark is the only instance where capitals appear to be used, but this is actually a custom font that uses small caps.
If you create a social media site on behalf of the University, use simple graphics that reflect the UConn brand. Our brand standards are outlined at brand.uconn.edu with information on logos, colors, fonts, and more.
The UConn brand should be reflected in your profile pictures, icons, and other imagery. For social media, you are welcome to introduce color:
You are not required to utilize the UConn wordmark, but please create artwork that complements the brand. Here are some examples of other acceptable profile pictures:
So you've gotten IRB approval to recruit for your research on social media, but where do you start? Do you start by creating your own account? Maybe there's a research partner that has established accounts for you to work with. University Communications recommends exploring all currently available options for social media recruitment before jumping in and creating a new account. If none of the current options work, please familiarize yourself with the University's Social Media Guidelines before getting started.
Best Practices in Social Media Recruitment for Research
Familiarize yourself with the University's general Social Media Best Practices.
Depending on where you want to advertise/promote/recruit, this Hootsuite article breaks down how to get the most reach and engagement if you plan on placing social media ads/use money to boost posts.
Understand and abide by the various platforms' advertising policies. This will ensure your content won't get rejected and that it will reach exactly who you're intending your content to reach:
Audience targeting helps you show your ads to the people you care about reaching. Each platform outlines how best to target specific audiences on said platforms.
Have an Exit Strategy
If you do not need the social media account(s) that you created once you've wrapped up your recruitment cycle, you need to deactivate the created account(s). This must be done within two weeks of the recruitment conclusion.
Social media is all about interaction and engagement. You can't share content on your social media sites and then ignore the account until it's time for your next update. When you manage an account for the University, you should regularly check for comments and questions and respond to followers in a timely manner.
Take care to check your facts and grammar before you hit 'share.' The content that you post is public, so never post anything that you would not be willing to see published or broadcast. If you make a mistake, acknowledge your error and correct it as quickly as possible. Avoid oversimplifying or sensationalizing issues.
Any messages that might be perceived as the 'voice' or position of the University should be approved by University Communications.
It is important to comply with existing institutional, state, and national policies when managing social media sites. Please consider the policies outlined in the Official Faculty and Staff Handbook and The Student Code.
Do not post confidential information about UConn or members of our community. Use good judgment and follow University policies and federal requirements, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Familiarize yourself and abide by the terms of service or community guidelines of the platforms you use. There are rules regarding the use of images and music, promotions, and more. Social media sites can freeze or delete your account with no advance notice if you do not abide by their terms of service.
Guide to Getting Started
Creating a social media account seems simple, but developing an effective social media presence requires careful planning, skill, and a significant amount of time. Before you get started, explore the guide below to make sure you understand all that goes into maintaining an account on behalf of UConn:
- What are your communications goals? Are you trying to reach out to students or connect with alumni? Are you sharing news or starting conversations? Your answers to these questions will impact your strategy as you begin to select platforms and develop content.
- Are your needs short-term or long-term? Social media accounts require ongoing attention, so it's important that you're dedicated to maintaining them over time. Inactive accounts reflect poorly on the University, so carefully consider whether you can devote the time and resources to running an account. If your needs are more short-term, please consider alternative solutions. If you're promoting an event, you can create a Facebook event and promote it through other University channels (e.g. websites, the Daily Digest, listservs, etc.). You can also contact the managers of existing UConn accounts and ask for their help promoting your initiative or event.
- How will social media be integrated with your website and existing communications?
- How is this in the best interest of UConn? Any social media activity on behalf of UConn should directly and measurably align with the University's strategic mission and priorities.
- Asking yourself whether your department should be on Facebook or Twitter? Trying to decide whether to create an Instagram account? It's important to understand the differences between each platform before creating new accounts.
- There are hundreds of social networks on the web, with new platforms being introduced regularly. We recommend that you focus on the primary platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc. Don't get caught up in the excitement of new platforms that might not have staying power. Instead, keep a close eye on the new platforms you're interested in and see how they perform over the first year.
- Still not sure how to select the right platforms? Looking for confirmation that you're on the right track? Contact Leann Hennessey, manager of social and emerging media, at email@example.com.
Selecting the right person to manage your social media presence is an important part of your strategy. The ideal account manager should be:
- An established social media user who utilizes social networks personally and regularly.
- Interested in keeping up with social media and marketing trends.
- A strong communicator with solid writing skills. As an institution of higher education, it's important that social media posts reflect the quality of our programs. Followers expect well-written posts with proper grammar and no typographical errors.
- Engaged with the UConn community by keeping up with events and being connected to students.
- Capable of editing images, and should have some basic design skills that will help in the creation of dynamic content.
- Able to demonstrate sound judgment. Social media is typically light-hearted and fun, but unexpected issues can arise, so it's important to have a manager who knows how to respond when under pressure.
- Regardless of the platform(s) you choose, content is king. Get your audience's attention by sharing valuable content.
- Tap into the expertise of your school, college, or department to deliver unique news, helpful links, and multimedia content. Your content should always relate back to this expertise.
- Become an expert content curator. You don't always have to create original content. Focus on finding interesting content that is already being shared across the Web and find ways to make it work for you. Take the time to give attribution, links back, and credit.
- What tone and style of communication will your target audience find most appealing? Establish a consistent voice that reflects the personality and brand of your School, College, or department. Social media is somewhat informal, so it's okay to be casual, yet professional.
- How frequently will you post? A regular and consistent schedule is important. The exact frequency will vary for each platform, but it also depends on your department and the types of content you are creating. If your time is limited and you can't make time for regular posting, social media might not be the right solution for you and you might consider alternative methods for communicating with the community.
- Create your social media account based on the steps outlined within each platform. Please carefully review our University Social Media Guidelines above for information on account creation, account names, and more.
- Include detailed information about your office or department. Incorporate a description, contact information, and historical information, if available.
- Social media platforms have made it easier to apply for verification, especially Twitter. Apply for verification to further add credibility to your account. Facebook owns Instagram, so when you apply for Facebook verification, it gives you the option to apply for Instagram verification.
- Connect with UConn-affiliated accounts and engage with their content by liking, commenting, or sharing when it fits within your content strategy.
- Next up, do the same with peers, partners, students, alumni, etc. The value of these connections is found through interaction. Find ways to like, share, and comment on their content and they might do the same for you.
- Embed social media icons or links into your marketing and communications. Look for opportunities to cross-promote.
- Utilize the tools embedded within each platform. On Twitter and Instagram, embrace hashtags. On Facebook, mention other pages and encourage your followers to tag people they know in your photos.
- Utilize a URL shortener like UConn's URL Shortener or bitly to shorten your URLs and begin tracking click-throughs. Use this information to determine which types of content you're posting are the most popular. Most platforms provide basic analytics about your content, although it does differ among platforms. Review this information regularly and track it over time to find out what is effective and what isn't resonating with your audience. Adjust your content strategy based on this intelligence.
- Tracking is made easier with a management tool that collects data or posts to multiple networks. SproutSocial and TweetDeck are two helpful tools. Be sure to request an education or non-profit discount if you're considering a paid service.
Establish a consistent voice that reflects the personality of your school, college, or department. Consider your target audience and craft a voice that is appealing to your followers. Social media is somewhat informal, so it's okay to be casual. It's also important to remember that you represent UConn, so let the University's brand and culture be your guide.
Social media networks are full of users with a variety of messages and agendas. Wondering how you can rise above the noise? Focus on creating and sharing unique content that provides value to your audience. If you can provide them with valuable content, they will pay attention.
Social media is about relationships, so focus on connecting with your followers and finding ways to engage with them. Divide your time between creating content and engaging with your followers on a regular basis. If they ask a question, be sure to provide an answer. If they comment, thank them for their input.
While Twitter limits your messages to 280 characters, Facebook, Instagram and other networks don't provide a character limit. But, even without a character limit, keep your messages concise. The general rule on social media is that the shorter your posts are, the better. However, in some cases, this makes longer posts more likely to stand out. It's in your best interest to vary the length of your posts to see the highest possible reach.
While it's important to post regularly so your followers stay connected, posting too often can turn your audience off. It's okay if you don't have something to post sometimes. Most importantly, don't post just for the sake of posting. Instead, focus on sharing items that are of value to your community and reflect well on your brand.
You don't have to be a part of every conversation that mentions your School, College, or department. You also don't need to jump on every viral trend on the internet. It's okay to sit back and listen sometimes.
Openness goes a long way in social media. Be as transparent as possible. Be honest. Acknowledge mistakes or when you don't have an answer. It's most important to be responsive.
Negative comments will eventually come your way. While it may be tempting to delete them, please don't. Deleting comments will often lead to more negativity and has even created public relations disasters for some institutions and companies. Instead, focus on determining whether you should respond or just let the comment be. Avoid engaging with trolls who try to incite reactions. Need help deciding how to handle a negative comment? Contact Leann Hennessey, manager of social and emerging media, at firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
Social Media Resources
Here are some of our favorites tips, tricks and resources:
Looking for a textbook on social media? It's hard to find one, because social media changes so quickly. Instead, look to websites, blogs, and experts who keep up with the latest trends and newest platforms. Here are a few of our favorite sites and blogs:
Visual content is the foundation of any good social media account. As a social media manager, it's important to have some basic image editing and design skills. Here are a few resources and cheat sheets to help you along the way:
- With all of the profile pictures, cover photos, and background graphics you have to create for your social media accounts, it's hard to keep track of all of the different image dimensions. Here are a couple of cheat sheets:
- Looking for an affordable online tool to create and edit images and graphics? Even if you're a Photoshop expert, you'll probably enjoy PicMonkey and Canva
We recommend that you use a URL shortener for all of the links you post on your social media platforms. Here are three reasons why:
- They make your links more manageable and user-friendly.
- They promote sharing because you can fit more links and content in less space. What's easier to share?
- They track click-through data (e.g. the number of times your link has been clicked), which you can use to inform your content decisions. Is there a pattern to the links that receive the most click-throughs?
Looking for a URL shortener? There are more than 20 available online. Here are two of our favorites:
A hashtag is the most popular means of categorizing content on social media. It makes your content discoverable by linking it to other related content that uses it. It also allows you to find relevant content from others.
Looking for the best #hashtag to use with your post to make sure you're reaching the right audience? Take a scroll through our list of top UConn hashtags and how to use them.
Social Media Policy
UConn has developed a social media policy that establishes standards for differentiating an employee's personal voice on social media from their professional connection to the University. The University fully affirms the rights of its employees to voice their own opinions and otherwise express themselves through their own personal social media accounts. This policy is not intended to and does not restrict an employee's ability to engage in all forms of lawfully protected speech on social media.
Please familiarize yourself with UConn's Social Media Policy.