California State University, Fullerton

Social Media Best Practices

Mission and Purpose

Before establishing a social media presence, make sure you have clearly defined goals and objectives. Get to know your audience and exactly who is talking about you and whom you want to talk with in each social media channel.

Listen

Listening is one of the greatest attributes of an effective communicator. The more time spent listening, the more effective your messages will be when you do talk via your social channels. Keep in mind that social media should be audience driven, so listen to your audience and consider their needs when posting content.

Editorial Calendar

Development of an editorial calendar will help your programs meet your goals by ensuring that the channels are a mixture of conversation as well as content sharing, which will be key to growing the following and engagement of your social channels.

Host

All sites should list contact or "hosted by" information.

Directory

Official university-sponsored sites will be listed on an online inventory of social media venues. In order for a page to be listed in this master inventory, a registration form must be completed and filed with Strategic Communications. By registering you acknowledge you have read the guidelines and best practices and provide Strategic Communications with a contact for your social media channels.

Grouping vs. single events

Instead of creating new groups/pages for one-time events, look for grouping opportunities and/or plan how to "sunset"/shut down groups/pages.

Facebook pages vs. a personal profiles

Only Facebook pages should be used to represent CSUF colleges, departments and programs.

Timing and Frequency

Timing can be everything with social media. The day and time you post can be the difference between heavy engagement and none at all. Also, posting too often can adversely affect your social communities. Listening to your audience and developing an editorial calendar will help ensure that you're not inundating your community with unwanted clutter.

Etiquette

Whatever you write in your social media channels is written in ink, not pencil. Once it is "out there" it can go anywhere on the Web. When you're posting from your official accounts, remember that you are representing Cal State Fullerton. Exercise good judgment.

Tone

Be friendly and outgoing, as though you are conducting an offline conversation. Also make sure it is clear you are representing CSUF.

Brand touchpoint

Remember that your social channels are a reflection of Cal State Fullerton and serve as brand touchpoints. Be sure that your channels and content are supportive/illustrative of the University's aspirational positioning statement. University communication standards should be followed on all sites.

Questionable Comments

From time to time you might receive negative or questionable comments. Do not delete or ignore negative comments just because they are negative. Evaluate each negative comment on a case-by-case basis. Is the user's point valid? Act quickly and respond to the user to see how you can address their particular issue or concern. Do delete SPAM comments, those comments that are profane or abusive, or obscene images. A statement regarding your deletion policy should be available to users. 

Content Sharing

If you are sharing content found from another source, be sure to credit where that content is coming from in your posts.

Emergencies

If there is a social media situation that you are unsure how to address, contact CSUF Strategic Communications at 657-278-5143. If there is a safety concern, contact Campus Police immediately.

Keep Personal and Professional Separate

Content that might be interesting to your friends might not always be of interest to your college/department's social media audience. Separate these two aspects of your life. In other words, if it doesn't directly impact or involve your CSUF audience, keep your personal life on your personal pages.

Add Value

Don't just talk about your college/department. It is OK to share content from other trusted sources – as long as it is content that your audience will find useful. Listen to your audience; they will help you figure out what content they do and do not want.

Be connected

As the administrator of an official CSUF social media channel, you accept the responsibility for maintaining current and accurate content and monitoring and moderating posts to that channel.

Be respectful

As a CSUF employee or representative, you should be mindful of the University's public mission as a forum for thoughtful discussion of opposing ideas. Some online communities can be volatile, tempting users to behave in ways they otherwise wouldn't. Your reputation, and CSUF's, are best served when you remain above the fray.

Be responsive

If a question or comment is directed toward you via your social media site or page, you should do your best to reply in a timely and appropriate fashion. Delete SPAM comments or those containing vulgar language or images.

Be transparent

If you participate in, or maintain, a social media site on behalf of the University, clearly state your role and goals. Discuss with your supervisor when you are empowered to respond directly to users and when you may need approval.

Be thoughtful

Before you jump into a discussion thread or respond to a posting, think about the implications. Will your response stimulate positive discussion, provide new information or insight, or inflame? If you have any questions about whether it's appropriate to enter into a social media discussion or write about certain kinds of material in your role as a CSUF employee, ask your supervisor before you post or contact Strategic Communications.

Know the rules

Comply with FERPA, CSUF and CSU policies related to Conflict of Interest, Privacy, Security, Safety, Intellectual Property, Computing and Technology Resources, and Human Resources issues. Also review and comply with Strategic Communications best practices. Become familiar with the terms of service and policies of sites and networks in which you participate. Pay attention to updates. If the legal language is hard to follow, follow a respected blogger who discusses service changes.

Permissions

You are responsible for gaining the expressed consent of all involved parties for the right to distribution or publication of recordings, photos, images, video, text, slideshow presentations, artwork and advertisements, whether those rights are purchased or obtained without compensation.

Keep your personal views separate

Uphold the University's mission and values in your activities. Don't include political or personal comments. This includes changes to your photo or avatar in relation to political or social issues. Do not use CSUF's name to promote or endorse any product, cause, political party or candidate.

This Social Media Guide was developed by the Strategic Communications team of California State University, Fullerton, with portions of the guide adapted from the Tufts University and University of Delaware guides.