Social media is an ever-evolving community and communications network, valuable to spreading your message, connecting with your audience, and elevating your brand.
Despite the frequent addition of new platforms—and frequent upgrades to existing platforms—standard guidelines exist. Follow these guidelines to maximize your social media strategy, and also be sure to consult the university’s appropriate use policy.
Required & Recommended Policies
- If any school, department or office wants to create a social media account, the Office of Marketing & Communications (MarCom) should be notified in advance. Please email the Office of Marketing & Communications’ Social Media Strategist (617-373-4550). Users should also work with the MarComm office to ensure their sites are running smoothly and in accordance with the policy.
- Users should report any suspected “fake” social media account to the Office of Marketing & Communications and the Social Media Strategist (617-373-4550). If possible, users should refrain from replying to or engaging with any suspected “fake” accounts.
- Any employee with responsibility for and/or access to a university social media account should be removed as an administrator upon leaving the university. A direct supervisor of the employee must do so in a timely manner, and in accordance with the HRM Off-Boarding Toolkit.
- All social media passwords should follow the Policy on Enterprise Passwords as stated by Information Technology Services. The Office of Marketing and Communications recommends that passwords include longer phrases rather than various university-related names/nicknames/acronyms – Ex. huskyNU2015. These should also be updated at least on per quarterly, and again when a social media administrator leaves his/her position at Northeastern.
- The Office of Marketing & Communications should also be notified as to who the new social media contact person will be.
- To monitor social media accounts, Facebook Insights, which is accessible from within your Facebook page, is an appropriate tool to measure your efforts. For LinkedIn, page administrators should sign up to receive email analytics reports directly from LinkedIn. Twitter performance can be evaluated using Twitter Analytics, which is available directly through Twitter. Departments also may be interested in using other tools the university has access to, such as Radian6. MarCom is currently exploring tools that we can all use to monitor social media and limit our exposure to malware.
Overall Best Practices
- Keep active. Inactive social media accounts look more out of touch than no social media presence at all. Update your accounts often and stay engaged with your followers and friends.
- Be brief! Both Facebook and Twitter have limited number of characters, and they are meant to be quick bursts of info.
- Avoid posting the same status updates on multiple platforms. Each medium has a different audience, as well as different character limits, so craft your messages accordingly.
- Keep in mind what other university social media profiles are sharing as to not overly duplicate content when possible.
- It is often best to use messaging that specifically targets your key audiences.
Account Names and Identities
- When naming your account, use the name of your department, school, or organization. Do not use “Northeastern University” alone.
- Choose the following categorization on Facebook and wherever else page classification is required: Companies & Organizations > University
- If you’re near Northeastern’s Boston campus, use Northeastern University as your location. If you are at one of our satellite campuses, use that location.
- Link to your own department or school’s northeastern.edu website.
- Note: Some user names—such as your Facebook URL—cannot be changed, so select carefully.
- Even if you are publicizing the identity behind an account (e.g. John Doe in Marketing and Communications), you should consider keeping a non-personal name (e.g. @NUMarCom) in case of staff turnover or a change of direction or roles.
- If you do opt to use a personal identity and are selecting a photo as the avatar or icon, be mindful that you are representing yourself and the university. So please monitor your professional standards when choosing.
Icons and Images
Use of NU
- Although “NU” is not typically permitted for university use, it is acceptable for social media use (icons, names, and copy), where space and legibility are at a premium.
- However, an “NU” icon must use Northeastern’s primary colors to differentiate from other “NU” schools such as Northwestern.
Avatars, Cover Photos, and Background Images
- How your page looks is an extension of its content, so be conscious of what personality you are projecting through colors and graphics.
- Do not use the university or college logos—they will not present properly in these small applications.
- The use of the seal is reserved for the official Northeastern University accounts run by the Office of Marketing and Communications.
- Do not use the athletics or alumni relations logos; they are reserved for their offices only and variations are not permitted.
- Instead, select iconic photos, such as those of your building or location. You can use the university’s image repository as a photo resource.
- Social media pages are apt to change formats, so for the most up-to-date image sizes and requirements, check with each application.
Language and Tone
- Be clear and succinct. Social media is made for brief statements, not lengthy prose.
- When space is limited, some abbreviations are OK (e.g. ampersands, using numerals instead of spelling out numbers, easily understood acronyms like "prof." "univ.” etc.), but try to avoid text speak (e.g. "where r u going 2 school?"), which appears juvenile. With Twitter, avoid using @ and # as abbreviations, because they will become hyperlinks.
- Before using a hashtag (#), search for it on that social media platform to make sure it is not already in use, particularly for a topic that would be inappropriate to share with your audience.
- Adapt an active and friendly voice, and freely use “you,” “we,” and “us” to promote inclusivity and personal connection.
- Consider ending posts with questions to promote conversation.
- If someone asks a question and you don’t know the answer, be honest and say you don’t know, but you will either find out or point them to someone who does. If negativity or other problems arise, take appropriately firm—but polite—action as necessary and according to your office’s policy.
- While we want to promote free speech, remove posts that are profane, in violation of privacy, or otherwise inappropriate.
- Be wary of engaging with “fake” university social media accounts as this may create additional problems. If you suspect that an account that is branded Northeastern University is not authentic, please email the Office of Marketing & Communications’ Social Media Strategist (617-373-4550).