Social Media Guidelines

A Guide to Working with Social Media

General Guidelines

  1. Be Strategic: Develop an organized plan with clear objectives, strategies, goals and metrics before engaging on a social media platform. Establish the needs of your audience and consider social media to be one piece of a digital strategy.
  2. Be Purposeful and Relevant: Know the audience you’re trying to reach and design a communicable mission and purpose for each account. Always maintain relevance to the audience.
  3. Be There For the Long-term: The ability to update social media instantaneously does not mean that it doesn’t require a strategic long-term plan. Create an editorial calendar that addresses the various needs of the audience.
  4. Be Conversational: The essence of social media is that it is two-way communication requiring a workflow of information. Two-way communication with your audience is encouraged through every post, tweet, comment, etc.
  5. Be Sharable: The most successful social media messages are those that are not only contextually relevant but also shareable. Understand that social media is built around communities. Ask why someone would want to share the information before posting. Bring value.
  6. Listen: Before engaging or responding to any post, spend time listening. Even though followers expect immediate feedback, be a listener and fully digest the situation before responding. 
  7. Develop Contingency Plans: There are many what-ifs that can happen in the realm of social media. Brainstorm some major issues and draft a detailed plan that addresses how to react to real-time crises.
  8. Be Timely, Transparent and Tactful: Establish a chain of approval command in crisis situations so messages can always be sent out in a timely manner with full transparency and a respectful tone. Remember to think twice, publish once.
  9. Be Drexel: All social media messages should reflect Drexel’s equity and brand reputation. Messages should reflect the University style guides, mission statements and core values when crafting social media strategies and tactics.
  10. Be Flexible: Social media change daily, making it impossible to be an expert in the field. If you’re a social media representative, continue to learn and attend trainings about the latest trends and emerging outlets. Be flexible and open-minded in your social media approach in order to adapt to the constantly changing environment.
  11. Build Relationships: Social media sites allow Drexel to have access to millions of people. By listening, engaging and creating content, seek to build relationships in all social media spaces.
  12. Don’t Censor Content: Deleting posts can create unintended backlash in the social sphere. Create a strategy on when/how to delete inappropriate comments/posts/tweets. In determining whether or not to delete a post, take into account the source of the post, if you have the power to adequately address the post and the reaction that others might have based on a response. For example, if there is an angry tweet directed at your college, it is probably best to ignore the message and not respond unless you can direct the person to the correct person to remedy the situation.

Outlet Specific Guidelines

Supplemental Guidelines

  1. Define the Community: Not only define the audience of the Facebook community but also define the expectations for all parties involved in the community.  Create roles or guidelines for a respectful community and post them on the page.
  2. Identify Advocates: The community on a Facebook page will have advocates and brand evangelists. Indentify these advocates and keep them in mind when building a community. At the same time, identify “foes” and follow their participation.
  3. Protect the Community: Never reveal information about students, faculty or staff without their consent.
  4. Relevance is Key: About 90 percent of people that read a brand’s page post will do so through their news feed. Make sure the post is relevant, accurate and timely.  Understand the best times to update a page based on the audience.
  5. Differentiate: In order to break through the clutter of one’s news feed, differentiate not only a post’s look and feel, but also its content. Explore features including polls and Facebook Places to increase engagement.
  6. Keep it Shareable, Keep it Social: The audience has three ways to engage with every post. They can like it, comment on it or share it. Keep these elements in mind when generating content. Consider adding questions, photos or response prompters in all posts.
  7. Understand Timeline: Facebook officially changes brand pages to the Timeline feature on March 30. Be aware of changes that may affect your page. Develop a cover photo strategy and add important events that apply to your college or page via the Timeline functions.

Supplemental Guidelines

  1. Determine Resources: Twitter can be overwhelming to handle. Determine time and energy that can be invested into tracking trends and ongoing conversations. Determine the schedule and frequency of tweets in the strategic planning process.  Setting a regular schedule helps to ensure that the account is active and encourages engaged followers.
  2. Keep it Short: Tweets should be kept to 120 characters maximum, not the 140 limit so that followers have room to re-tweet or add a short comment.
  3. Determine Approach For Selecting Followers: Develop criteria for whom to follow on Twitter including relevant partners, influencers and key opinion leaders.
  4. Develop Strategic Engagement: Develop a strategy for identifying and re-tweeting or replying to posts from followers and non-followers. When it comes to tweeting, keep the mantra “value over volume” in mind. Explore options such as Twitter Chats or Tweet-ups for increased engagement with a specific group of followers.
  5. Select An Appropriate Avatar: Once you sign up for Twitter, change the “egg” picture to one that accurately reflects your college. Remember to crop your photo before you upload it because the photo will be cropped into a square automatically after it is uploaded.
  6. Become Well-versed in the Vernacular: The following are common terms related to Twitter activities:
    1. Direct Message or DM: A private Twitter message sent via Twitter between people who follow each other.
    2. Follow: A way to subscribe to receive an individual’s or an organization’s Twitter updates. A user can “follow” another individual or organization by clicking the “Follow” button on the person’s or organization’s page.
    3. Follower: A Twitter user who subscribes to follow another user.
    4. “#” or Hashtags: A way to categorize tweets around a particular topic.
    5. Mentions/@ Reply: A Twitter update that contains @username anywhere in the body of the tweet.
    6. ReTweet or RT: Sharing another user’s tweets with followers, usually by using the phrase “RT @username” or “ReTweet @username.”
    7. Tweet: An individual Twitter post.
    8. Tweet-up: A live in-person meeting as a result of planning an outing on Twitter.
    9. Twitter Chat: A group of people follow a hashtag at a specific time and tweet Q&A back and forth around a common topic.
  7. Create Lists: Twitter allows users to build lists in order to combine a niche group of one’s audience. For example, DrexelUniv Twitter account has a list of faculty members with Twitter accounts. 
  8. Monitor Keywords and Competitors: Using tools like or social media dashboards (e.g. Hootsuite) allow one to follow or find tweets related to specific keywords or hashtags. Do monitor in order to listen and become a more informed Tweeter.

Supplemental Guidelines

  1. Create a Channel: In order to manage videos and playlists, establishing a channel on YouTube allows the user to brand the page as well as test video distribution and gather insights. The channel can be tweaked and optimized as needed. If you are not prepared to dedicate the time and effort required to design, build, and maintain a channel, or if you expect to post videos only rarely, keep in mind that (if you are a department or smaller center) your college or school, or the main university social media team, may be willing to upload your video to their channel.
  2. Playlists Segmentation: Create multiple playlists for different segments of your audience.
  3. Have a Purpose: YouTube is a standard in social media engagement but there may not be a one-size-fits-all content to establish the goals set forth in your strategic plan. Let the strategies guide the tactics used to create and promote videos.
  4. Explore Sharing Options: Set up sharing options via settings in order to increase visibility of videos. As subscribers comment, favorite or like a video, these actions will be broadcast to their Facebook and Twitter accounts for their friends and followers to see.
  5. Create Content that Users Want and Can Find: YouTube is the number three online search engine for content and the number one search engine for video. Create content for what the audience might want/need to know about the products or services offered. Make sure to include a useful text description of each video containing key words relevant to the video’s content, as well as a meaningful title that will entice people to want to watch the video.
  6. Understand Search Operators:  YouTube's search operators are fairly clear-cut, but here is a quick review of key terms to use.
    1. In addition to the usual "quotation marks" to search for a specific term, plus or minus signs to include or omit results and the use of "INTITLE:term" to ensure the word you're looking for appears in the video's title, there are some YouTube-specific terms to note.
    2. Adding "HD" to your search query will return high-def results while "3D" does the same for three-dimensional content.
    3. Typing "today," "this week" or "this month" helps you narrow down more recent content.
    4. Adding "channels" or "playlists" to your search query returns such results.
    5. Finally, "long" and "short" searches for videos over 20 minutes and less than four minutes.

Supplemental Guidelines

  1. Be Strategic: It’s important to understand new social media platforms and to engage on them, but goals should come before the tools. Because personalized Google+ content is included in users’ personalized Google search results, a Google+ Page presence may be desirable if search engine optimization is a primary goal and members of your target audience are active on Google+. Google+ Pages are also integrated directly into Google Search through a feature called Direct Connect. Whenever a user starts a search query with the “+” operator, it will start bringing up Google+ Pages as they type.
  2. Understand the Components and Differences From Facebook: Many equate Google+ to Facebook but there are differences woven throughout:
    1. Circles: Google+ does not to simply let you “friend” people you know, as does Facebook, or “follow” individuals as on Twitter. Instead, Google+ gives you more fine-tuned control over who sees your content.
    2. Newsfeed: On Google+ newsfeed, posts by your friends move to the top of the feed based on which post has the most recent comment. Older posts are eventually buried in the stream. Instead of “liking” a post, you can “+1″ a post. You can also share posts with circles or mute a post that is clogging up your stream.
    3. Hangouts: Google+ Hangouts allows users to video chat with up to 10 people.  
    4. Google+ Pages: This is Google’s version of Facebook Fan Pages. Users can +1 a Page to signify their support for a brand. Pages also have a square icon that indicates they are a Page and not a person.

Combining Outlets

There are many social media management tools to use. The largest and most user-friendly is Hootsuite.  Hootsuite is a social media management tool that allows companies to track content flow from multiple social media outlets (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) and monitor analytics from that information. Hootsuite is accessed from a web browser rather than a desktop client.

When using Hootsuite:

  1. Track Campaigns and Engagement: Hootsuite is built to encourage daily community building engagement as well as one-off campaigns. Customize tabs in Hootsuite to follow streams across all social media outlets.
  2. Schedule Messages: Hootsuite allows the user to “batch schedule” or pre-schedule up to 50 messages that will be released based on the information you upload. However, that does not mean you can always take a “set it and forget it” approach; on many social media platforms, successful engagement means also responding to posts and comments by your audience, in addition to sharing posts of your own.
  3. Measure Success: By using the custom reports option, users can build analytics reports and continue to optimize engagement. This gives brands the ability to “test-and-learn” from their participation on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  4. Mass Message Appropriately: While Hootsuite allows users to send the same messages to a Twitter, Facebook and YouTube account, this is not encouraged. Remember your audience and craft unique messages specifically for that target.

Personal Social Media Presence

Many faculty and staff have personal social media accounts whether on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+. While this is encouraged, there are guidelines to follow when engaging on these platforms.

  1. Be authentic: Indentify yourself and your title in the appropriate information sections of the social media outlet. For example, “The views expressed on this [Twitter, Blog, etc.] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Drexel University.” While personal posts are not discouraged, please be clear that you are sharing your views as a member of the higher education community, not as a formal representative of Drexel University.
  2. Be Aware of Liability:  You are legally liable for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. There is no such thing as deleting a post, tweet or piece of information on the Internet today.  Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be proprietary, copyrighted, defamatory, libelous or obscene (as defined by the courts).
  3. Don’t Brand Yourself With Drexel: Do not use the Drexel logo, athletic logo or any other Drexel marks or images on your personal online sites. This includes any Drexel slogans or otherwise trademarked material from the University. If endorsing a product, company, political event or any cause, do not use Drexel’s name, image or materials.
  4. Follow a Code of Ethics: Whether formal or informal, create a code of ethics to follow on all personal social media sites. This will assist you in participating responsibility and will full intention of respecting all online communities in the social media space.

Sub-Section 1: Blogging Guidelines
Drexel University supports personal and professional blogging from faculty, staff and students across a variety of platforms including Tumblr, BlogSpot, Wordpress and more. However, there are legal and University-specific guidelines to follow.  The guidelines outline the legal implications of blogging about Drexel and also include recommended best practices to consider when posting about Drexel.

  1. Know Legal Liability:  Drexel University faculty, staff and students are personally responsible for the content they publish online, whether in a blog, social computing site or any other form of user-generated media. Be mindful that what you publish will be public—protect your privacy and take care to understand a site's terms of service. It is very important to be conscious of all content postings. Individual bloggers can be held personally liable for any commentary deemed to be defamatory, obscene, proprietary or libelous. Bloggers should exercise caution with regards to exaggeration, colorful language, guesswork, obscenity, copyrighted materials, legal conclusions, and derogatory remarks or characterizations. In essence, you blog (or post on the blogs of others) at your own risk. Outside parties actually canpursue legal action against you for postings.
  2. Understand Legal Responsibility: Be transparent about your identity, including name and role at Drexel University. If you are blogging on behalf of Drexel or for personal use, please identify that upfront with your audience. Do not share any company-privileged information on your blog, whether it is the Drexel logo, any trademarks or confidential information. Any information that has not already been made public cannot appear in a personal blog under any circumstances.
  3. Contact University Communications Regarding Any Press Inquires: Blog postings may generate media coverage. If a member of the media contacts you about a Drexel-related blog posting or requests Drexel information of any kind, contact the appropriate news officer in the Office of University Communications before responding to inquires or blogging any information.
  4. Be Factual: While blog posts are more informal and can represent your opinion on a topic, it’s essential to be factual and provide context to your argument.  There is value in multiple perspectives of an argument and Drexel values your opinion, but present it in a way that gives the reader understanding and context.
  5. Be Respectful: Be sure to not only respect copyright and fair use laws when blogging, but also your audience members by creating appropriate content.
  6. Understand Copyright: Check with the photographer if you have rights to share the photographs in the social media space. Unless otherwise specified, a photo is copyrighted by the person or company that took it; you would need a license to allow you to use that photo. You can search on Flickr and other search engines for photos made freely available for use under a Creative Commons license (some limitations may be specified). On Flickr, use the advanced search page and check the box to “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content.”

Sub-Section 2: Photosharing Guidelines
Photosharing is one of the biggest trends in the social media space. There are numerous Photosharing sites; a few are outlined below. The Office of University Communications recommends that colleges either utilize Facebook or Flickr for Photosharing. Facebook features an extremely user-friendly uploader and effectively reaches an existing audience. It also has the friend-tagging function. Flickr offers better embedding functions if you want to place the photos in a slideshow on a website or blog. It is also more flexible for reusing photos on other sites.

  1. Give Context: When uploading photos, be sure to give each photo a caption as well as an overall caption for the album of photos. If someone comes across the album on its own, they should be able to understand the five W’s about your photos—who, what, where, when and why.
  2. Give Credit: Check with the photographer if you have rights to share the photographs in the social media space. Attach photo credits to any and all photos shared even if the same photographer took all photos in a specific album.
  3. Use Quality Photos: Because it’s very easy for photos to become viral, be sure to upload only quality photos that would be appropriate for any and all potential audiences to see. Not every photo is worth keeping and sharing.
  4. Organize Photos: Depending on what outlet you use for photosharing, the organization may differ. However, it’s important to make photos easily searchable. For example, putting the event name and date as the album title might be the way you choose to organize photos.


Facebook is the largest photosharing site with over 2.5 billion photos uploaded to Facebook each month. Facebook recently launched a new photo uploader to make the process easier and more user-friendly. Other advantages for photosharing on Facebook include friend tagging, click-through albums, large existing user base and simplicity. When uploading photos to Facebook, follow all of the Facebook guidelines mentioned above.

Flickr is a photo management sharing applications that allows user to upload photos and videos to share with communities in a variety of interest areas. Flickr has a blog, groups and badges that users can connect to their albums when photosharing.

Instagram is a photo-taking and photosharing app that has the ability to add filters to photographs in order to make them look retro and different. Instagram is linked to sites like Twitter, Flickr and Facebook so the photos can be uploaded instantaneously.

Photobucket has a very active community of mostly younger, non-professional users, who upload photos from their smartphones and other mobile devices. Photobucket is tightly integrated with social media, making it very easy to share your photos on all the popular social networking sites.

One of the largest photography sites on the net, Snapfish has a lot to offer. It offers easy to use galleries, ability to share photos with a link, or an email, over Facebook or other social media sites. Create great slideshows with free musical backgrounds (called SnapShows), and create great-looking photobooks that you can even share online, or invite others into your workspace to help you create them collaboratively. Facebook photos can easily be printed via Snapfish.

For any questions or more information please contact a member of the media relations team that oversees social media in the Office of University Communications or Rob Goldberg, director of web communications:

      1. Niki Gianakaris, 215-895-6741,
      2. Rob Goldberg, 215-895-6742,
      3. Rachel Ewing, 215-895-2614,
      4. Britt Faulstick, 215-895-2617,
      5. Alex McKechnie, 215-895-2705,