Like all other materials, social media accounts representing and maintained by units within the Division of Student Affairs should be of the highest quality to properly represent not only individual units, but also the division and Rutgers University at large. In addition to the playbook and policies below, please also review University Communications and Marketing’s Best Practices for Running a Social Media Campaign.
The purpose of this “playbook” is to give you an understanding and idea of the direction Student Affairs will be going in when it comes to social media. It highlights some best practices as well as a general path to follow when looking at how your unit’s social media fits into the greater context of the Student Affairs story.
Survey The Landscape
As you start exploring the use of social media, it is important to get a sense of the landscape. The first part of doing this is exploring what social networks are available to you, taking note of what is unique about them, thinking on how they are used to communicate with others, and how your unit may be able to fit into those networks. The second way of doing this is thinking about the student population, what messaging they are already receiving about your unit, and what other entities you may have to compete with.
Know Your Team
While thinking about the landscape, you also want to begin to think about your team and how they factor into the channels you are thinking of exploring. Do you have a good photographer on your team who may be able to help you leverage Instagram? Do you have good writers who can craft great tweets or Facebook posts? Focus on the strengths of your team and who will be able to help you as you begin to work more with social media, and position them correctly based on those strengths.
Know Your Audience
More than knowing whom you are trying to reach, it is important to gain an understanding of how to reach them. If you are targeting specific populations, do some ways of contacting them or drawing their attention work better than others? Learning what content your audience responds to can make or break your usage of social media.
Beyond this, it is important to really take stock of it you are reaching the right people. In some cases things may seem like they are going well because you consistently get a good number of likes, shares or retweets, but really look at that data. Are you getting new people with each of those engagements? Or are they the same people every time?
Take Stock of Your Content (Is It Enough?)
Social media is largely about what you post, so it is incredibly important to know what you have to share with your audience. As with thinking about your team, you want to focus on elements that would be highlights for your area. Does the work photograph well? Are there videos that emphasize its importance? Or can you have a little fun with it and write some jokes about what you do that will resonate well? Whatever the case, know what you have to share and decide if it is enough or if you will need to rely on borrowing content from other spaces to help flesh out your pages.
Set Your Path
What is the course you are going to take? Using what you have looked at so far, start to make a plan around how you and your team are going to use the content you have and some that you borrow, to reach your audience with everything else competing for their attention. Think about what sets your unit apart, determine what you determine to be successful and make sure the whole team knows what the goal is.
Tell Your Story
It is important that we do not allow our pages to become postings solely of what events are coming up. This is not to say that you should not share events on your page, but think about ways that you can couple sharing upcoming events with telling your unit’s story. What are ways in which you can really share what your area does? Are there ways to showcase behind the scenes aspects of your day to day? Are there success stories from students you have worked with? Find ways to showcase what your unit does and how it affects people. These stories go a long way in helping people understand the importance of Student Affairs. Video is another great tool to leverage for storytelling and easily integrates into several types of social networks.
Do The Work Justice
No one wants to look bad, so don’t take chances. Make sure that all posts are well written, grammatically correct and free of spelling errors. These posts should also tell the right stories and entice your audience, so avoid underselling your unit. If you are posting photos, they should be clear and well composed. Avoid sharing blurry, out of focus, grainy, and poorly composed images to ensure that your unit is represented in the best way possible. When you can, share high-quality videos with clear audio, you want your audience to be able to easily tell what is happening. Remember, you want your content to get people excited about what you have to offer and high-quality pieces of content can help you do just that.
Don’t Spread Too Thin
Your unit does not need to be on every social network, and there is no imperative to post every hour of every day if you do not have the content for that. Keep things in perspective and focus on what is working and where you can most effectively reach your audience. Always focus on your team, content and audience and only expand I you have the means or absolute need to do so.
Have a Conversation
Social media is not a one-way street. Your audience will comment on things and send you messages, and you will need to respond. Make sure that you respond in a timely manner, missing messages or failing to provide information can turn a follower off from engaging with you very quickly. Additionally, do not be afraid to post content where you ask your audience to respond. Social media is a great way to gain feedback and gain insight that may be difficult to achieve in person.
Pay Attention To Your Audience (Even If They Don’t Pay Attention to You)
This may seem like a strange concept, but your audience is not always following you. Sometimes parties who are interested in your content may not be aware of your existence or just are not interested in following another account. These audience members can still provide valuable insight and feedback. Social listening can be incredibly important, and hashtags and Facebook searches can be your best friends. By using tools like these, you can see if there are conversations about your unit or something relating to your unit, even if it is not directly addressed to you. You can also gain some valuable insight on changes in your audience’s behavior and new trends through social listening.
Always Be Ready To Respond
Social listening may sound kind of creepy, but it is a good way to nip some problems in the bud. Look for questions or concerns you can reply to and show your audience that you care and are there to help. Don’t be afraid to make hand-offs if you know there is another unit, which could better assist. Your followers will also have emergency situations that they may approach you with via social media, and these can happen at anytime. Work with your team to figure out the best way of monitoring these elements and create a response plan.
Take It Offline
Social media can be a powerful tool, but face-to-face interaction has a place in everything that we do. Be sure to supplement the use of social media with activities that encourage in person conversations and interactions, which can help feedback into the social media accounts you are building. Offline is also one of the best places to promote your accounts, do not miss out on that opportunity.
Account Management & Creation
Before Creating A New Social Media Account
Before creating an account, please follow these steps:
- Review the Social Media Playbook for Student Affairs
- Review University Communications and Marketing’s guide on Launching a Social Media Presence
- Decide if social media is the correct tool for you
- Develop a plan for how this account will be used in the context of your overall marketing strategy
- Discuss your plan with the Assistant Director of Student Affairs Marketing & Communications
We ask that all areas establish page roles for all members who will be accessing their page. Services like Facebook and Twitter’s TweetDeck have predetermined page roles that you can use as a basis for other pages you may be managing.
For all accounts, the Director and Assistant Director of Student Affairs Marketing & Communications must be provided Administrator level roles for all accounts.
If you have questions about establishing page roles, please contact the Assistant Director of Student Affairs Marketing & Communications.
Statement of Confidentiality Agreement
All student personnel who will be managing social media accounts will need to sign a statement of confidentiality agreement. You can use the agreement available through the office of student employment and append as necessary.
Continuity Plan and Approval Authority
In addition to developing page roles, it is also important to develop a continuity plan, establish levels of reviews, and determine who has top-level approval authority.
A continuity plan will help with succession when people who have access to the account(s) leave the area. You want to think about who will take over the account when it’s main operator leaves, or how responsibilities get transferred when student managers graduate. Have this plan in writing and share it with the Director and Assistant Director of Student Affairs Marketing & Communications.
In day to day posting, it is helpful to develop a system of reviewing posts to ensure accuracy. These levels of review will also be helpful when approaching and responding to comments and messages sent to the page. Additionally, you will want to determine who has final approval authority in case of the need for response to emergency and other sensitive matters via social media.
In case of emergency situations on campus, do not take it upon yourself to create a response. Instead, either wait for the official university response, or escalate to the Director of Student Affairs Marketing & Communications who will confer with divisional leadership about appropriate responses.
Keep an updated list of all personnel who have access to your social media accounts at all times. This list should show which personnel have access to which accounts, as well as their role for that specific account. Be sure to share this list with the Student Affairs Marketing & Communications Office.
Statement of Use
In the about section of your Facebook page, and any other applicable account, include a statement of use in the “About” section of your page. This statement of use sets the ground rules for individuals posting content to your page, and allows you to set stipulations for what kind of posts will be removed from your page if necessary.
[You Area’s Name]’s Facebook Page welcomes you to discuss and share information, thoughts, photos, and videos. However, we will review all content and will remove any posts that are inappropriate, offensive, contain insults or attacks, are duplicate posts, contain illegal suggestions, or contain advertisements/SPAM/solicitation. Please understand that comments posted to this page do not represent the opinions of [Your Area], Rutgers University Division of Student Affairs, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
With the growing risk of cyber-attacks and account hacking incidences, the following account security policies have been created to help mitigate avoidable incidences of account compromise.
Passwords can be our first line of defense in protecting our accounts. In many cases, accounts have been using the same passwords far longer than they should, and many of them are far too simple.
Passwords must be changed at the end of every semester, or when someone who has access to the password leaves your area.
Passwords must follow the same policy as the Office of Information Technology’s policy for NetID passwords:
- Your password/passphrase must be at least 10 but no more than 63 characters.
- Your password must contain a minimum of 3 character classes. The characters on the keyboard are grouped into categories known as classes.
They are as follows:
- Lowercase letters (a-z)
- Uppercase letters (A-Z)
- Numerals (0-9)
- Special characters (e.g. $ * )
- The password/passphrase cannot contain any 4 consecutive characters from your name or IID (i.e. your initials).
- You cannot reuse any of your previous 5 passwords/passphrases.
- Passwords/passphrases expire every 12 months.
- Spaces, tabs, and carriage returns are not allowed.
Passwords are not to be shared with anyone via electronic communications methods. Whenever passwords need to be exchanged, do so in person or over the phone. Additionally, do not store passwords online or on shared drives.
Account Contact Information
In order to make account continuity an easier process, we ask that the following policy be followed.
Never use personal or individual e-mail accounts or phone numbers for social media accounts. Using a departmental email address and phone number ensures that if you leave, the account will still be able to be reset incase passwords are lost.
Though third-party scheduling services and apps (Buffer, HootSuite, etc.) streamline our ability to post to multiple accounts at the same time, the security of these services and apps are questionable, and in some cases can allow former users to still access accounts that they have been removed from. Because of this, all areas are asked to discontinue use of all third-party schedulers. In the case of services like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, schedulers are either already built in or made available directly through a service they manage.
Provide Information to the Divisional Office
Please be sure to provide all password and account contact information to the divisional marketing & communications office.
Branding, Content & Posting
Profile Pictures and Cover Photos (Work in Progress)
At the time of posting this policy, Student Affairs Marketing & Communications is in the process of developing a consistent and comprehensive social media profile picture and cover photo system for the division. This group will meet with your area to help install and create the appropriate content.
Adherence to Student Affairs Brand
Whenever applicable, posts must follow Student Affairs branding and University identity policy. Please refer to other sections of this site or contact Student Affairs Marketing & Communications with questions.
Use High-Quality Visual Content
Try to use high quality photo, video and design content. Your page is a reflection of the Division of Student Affairs and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and as such your content should be finely curated and of the highest quality possible. If you need help capturing high-quality photos, creating videos, or designing quality visual content, please contact Student Affairs Marketing & Communications.
- Use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- Do not use vulgar language or profanity.
- Do not share information that is confidential, proprietary or not public.
- Do not plagiarize or steal. When sharing content from another creator, credit the source.
Auditing & Reevaluation
At the beginning of each month, do an audit of your accounts’ activity during the previous month. This audit should look at the following items:
- The net change in followers/subscribers/likes for the account(s)
- How large the account’s total reach was
- How many posts have been shared in the last month
- How many items have been shared from other areas of Student Affairs
- What your most popular posts were
- What your least popular posts were
- What posts you promoted or ads you have created to promote your social media
- If hosting a special event that month, think about how many posts pertained to that event and their effectiveness
- Any surprising occurrences of note on the account
Use this audit when reviewing what content was effective for your account(s) and how you can better plan your content and use social media in the future. Additionally, please provide a copy of this audit to the Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications for review.