Social Media Guidelines

The social media landscape has changed the ways we communicate. Think of using social media as creating a conversation — it is as much about listening as about generating content.

Social media outlets add a friendly touch to Kansas State University. They provide new opportunities to promote the university and build relationships with multiple audiences.

Before posting anything on a social media account affiliated with Kansas State University, please familiarize yourself with these guidelines. We expect everyone to follow these guidelines when using social media to communicate consistently on behalf of the university. By doing so, we can all use social media to successfully create an online Kansas State University community.

One Kansas State University voice

Although each unit operates its own social media outlet, all Kansas State University social media accounts are a voice for the university. A central database compiled by Social Media Services in the Division of Communications and Marketing ensures continuity in social media. Units must provide the names of social media account administrators as well as their phone numbers and email addresses. Units must also provide account login information – including username, email and password – in a timely manner. This information will be kept confidential and used for access during emergency situations.

Before you begin

An effective social media presence requires careful planning. When creating a university social media account, keep the following guidelines in mind:                                                     

  • Before starting a social media account for a university unit, first talk to the supervisor for that unit. Consult with Social Media Services for guidance in getting started.
  • Define your goals for using social media. Who is your audience? What do you hope to accomplish? How will you track your successes and progress?
  • Keep in mind that a successful social media account takes time to maintain and requires staff resources to develop content that engages users.
  • Inactive social media accounts reflect negatively on the university. Social Media Services may request inactive accounts be taken down. If you are finding it difficult to create content for your social media account, please consult with Social Media Services to discuss ideas and other options.

Best practices for social media

The world of social media is ever changing and evolving. No matter what platforms you choose to explore, the following practices can help manage your unit's social media. Follow these guidelines to ensure the best experience for everyone involved.

Follow the rules.

Make sure you understand the policies of the social media outlet you are using. Read the terms of services before beginning so you know the rules. 

All Kansas State University policies apply to social media outlets. Follow copyright laws as well as university policies outlined in the Policies and Procedures Manual. Be aware of FERPA laws and other laws regarding confidential information about students, alumni or employees.

Make it easy for people to find you. Don't play hide-and-seek.

Increase exposure for your social media account by using Kansas State University in the title and avoiding acronyms. In the section describing your unit, include a statement that acknowledges your affiliation with Kansas State University. Protect the university brand by using the official visual marks and graphics included in the university graphic standards guide.

Choose a recognizable profile picture. This picture should be iconic and make it easy for users to identify your unit. Use the same profile picture across your unit's social media accounts. The Division of Communications and Marketing has created social media icons and backgrounds for official use in university social media accounts.

Create a management method.

Designate at least two content managers for each social media account. This makes it easier to keep the social media account active and up-to-date. If applicable, use a general email address and phone number instead of an individual's direct line when providing contact information.

Create a flexible schedule for posting timely content that is relevant to your unit. To develop a consistent flow of content, determine when and what you will post.

Manners matter.

Remember: Everything you post is public. The content that you post reflects on the university. Post respectfully and responsibly. If you are ever unsure about the appropriateness of material to share on social media, check with your unit's supervisor. If still unsure, contact Social Media Services. 

Use correct grammar and write in complete sentences when possible. Never write with all the letters capitalized. Avoid jargon and institutional language. Abbreviations are sometimes necessary to meet word limits, but don't overdo it. Do not use unprofessional abbreviations, such as "u" or "r."

Post content that is meaningful and relevant to your unit.

Think about how the content might advance your unit's initiatives and goals. Do not post about trending Internet memes, photos or videos. Write in a manner that represents your whole unit. Use "we," "our" and other inclusive words. Keep content fresh. Provide regular and timely updates, but don't overdo it. Keep in mind what is appropriate for the specific social media outlet that you are using.

Interact with users. Post content that encourages feedback and positive interaction. When possible and appropriate, include visual content — such as photos and videos — to increase engagement. Be friendly, helpful and informative. Connect users with resources. Link back to content throughout the k-state.edu website to drive traffic back to the university. When sharing news about your unit, provide a link to the university's news release or official announcement rather than providing a link to a media outlet.

Be accurate.

Make sure you have all the facts before you post. Double-check everything for accuracy. Link to your sources when you can and give credit to other university units when you include their updates on your site. Correct errors quickly and visibly. Posts often include timestamps and users will be able to see how quickly you respond.

Focus on Kansas State University.

Do not comment on other institutions or legal matters. It is likely that people will post negative comments on your social media outlet, but you should respond to them professionally. Be respectful of others' opinions and do not suppress disagreement. Use it as an opportunity to correct misinformation and turn a negative into a positive.

Delete profanity and other offensive content. Follow the Division of Communications and Marketing's social media policy. Consider posting this policy on your social media account to inform users.

Social Media Policy

"Kansas State University welcomes participation through our social media channels and encourages you to interact with us often. We hope to provide a forum for dialogue among the many diverse voices of our university and we encourage comments about the content you find here. Posts containing personal attacks, profanity, nudity, hate speech or illegal material are prohibited. We reserve the right, at our discretion, to remove any post or to revoke a user's privilege to post to our page. Please be aware that we cannot immediately review every comment posted on the page. Opinions expressed in non-Kansas State University posts are not necessarily those of the university and its employees, and we cannot guarantee the accuracy of these posts. Posts are to be used only for noncommercial purposes. You may not solicit funds or promote commercial entities. All content posted by Kansas State University is the property of Kansas State University and is subject to copyright laws. For more information, please visit http://www.k-state.edu/copyright/."

 

Customize posts for the social media outlet you are using.

It is OK to post about the same topic on multiple outlets, but tailor the text for the audience. Mix it up. Make the posts different to avoid repetition. Do not link status updates to post automatically from one social media account to another.

Track your success.

Analyze and organize your content to improve your social media account. Use analytic tools to assess your progress and keep track of posts that users respond to positively.

Ask for help.

We're here to help. For further questions about social media at Kansas State University, please contact Social Media Services in the Division of Communications and Marketing at 785-532-2535 or socialmedia@k-state.edu.

The Associated Press Stylebook also provides guidelines for working with social media. See the stylebook section titled "Social Media Guidelines."

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