Social media guidelines
Social media is a tool, not a solution.
The University of Nevada, Reno recognizes the significant role social media plays in communication. In fact, recent statistics from Brandwatch suggest the average daily time spent by the 3.499 billion active social media users worldwide is 142 minutes a day.
With the proliferation of social media, it’s not surprising that representatives of University schools, colleges and units, as well as the departments within them, choose to represent their University identity on one or multiple social media channels. Just like other forms of communication, social media is most effective when it is rooted in strategy and collaboration.
To assist colleagues across campus in their use of University-branded social media, this page contains:
- Social media terms of service
- University policies related to social media
- Tips for making your social media content accessible
- Account registration
These guidelines are intended to complement existing University policy. Further, these guidelines do not supersede or otherwise modify the social media policy ( 7,009: University of Nevada, Reno Social Media Policy) adopted in the University Administrative Manual.
Considering social media for your department
Social media platforms are typically easy and often free to use. A successful social media strategy always requires resources – research, clearly outlined goals and objectives, tactics and dedicated effort. Often, the most effective social media strategy will be to take advantage of existing channels and conversations rather than trying to create a new one.
If you think participation in social media might be helpful for your area, first think about these questions:
What would you like to accomplish?
If you want to promote an event or share news about your area, submitting content to the University or your college’s or division’s existing social media sites might be a better choice for you. Social media requires daily maintenance as its users desire to frequently engage with others. Social media accounts are not useful for one-time events and are not a short-term approach.
What is your message?
This is a trick question. Social media is all about connecting, not pushing a message. To be a good participant, you must first be a good listener. The online community will tell you what they want to hear from you. Your content should be relevant, meaningful and interesting from your audience's perspective.
Do you have what it takes?
To be successful, social media takes not only time and strategy, but it often takes an outgoing personality. If you've been described as a people person or friendly, you may have what it takes. Alternatively, you may be a connector – someone who enjoys making connections and providing helpful information. In any case, you should have personal or professional experience with social media before hosting an account on behalf of the University.
How is this in the best interest of the University of Nevada, Reno?
Any activity in social media on behalf of the University should directly and measurably align with the University’s strategic mission and priorities.
According to the social media policy, any social media accounts representing the University of Nevada, Reno or any of its components must be developed in consultation with, or reviewed and approved by, the University’s Office of Marketing and Communications. This process begins by understanding your business objectives for the account. You may begin the process by reaching out to your Social Media Leadership Team liaison for guidance.
Approved University social media accounts require at least three designated moderators.
If you are interested in discussing how social media might help you meet your area’s business goals and objectives, start by reaching out to your Social Media Leadership Team representative .
- Facebook Terms of Service
- Twitter Terms of Service
- LinkedIn User Agreement
- YouTube Terms of Service
- Vimeo Terms of Service Agreement
- Snapchat Terms of Service
University social media policies
- 7,009: University of Nevada, Reno Social Media Policy
- 7,013: Policy for the Creation and Management of University Social Media Sites
The University is committed to diversity and to ensuring that our programs, services and activities are accessible to all. Accessibility across the University of Nevada, Reno’s web presence is a strategic priority for the institution. Anyone who maintains social media sites on behalf of the University needs to evaluate the accessibility of their social media programs and work to ensure content is accessible.
- Provide contact information on your account page or a link to your course/website with contact information.
- Provide links to the social media platform’s accessibility tips and support, if possible.
- Provide sufficient color contrast.
- Use plain language: provide clear instructions, avoid undefined technical jargon and spell out acronyms and abbreviations.
- Use CamelCase: capitalize the first letter of words in multiple word hashtags to help screen readers distinguish separate words (e.g. #WolfPack or #BattleBorn). This format is also easier for fully sighted users to read.
- Place hashtags at the end of the posts. This improves the screen-reader experience.
- Open links in the same window. Doing so permits users to use the browser’s back button to return.
- Use link shorteners. Where descriptive links are not possible or convenient, a short URL is easier for screen readers to handle and helps reduce the character count for character-restricted platforms.
- Use descriptive links and short URLs consistently at the end of posts.
- Provide alt text or image descriptions. If tools for alt text aren’t available, describe images with text where you post them. Consider manually preceding the text with “Image Description” or “Photo caption” for clarity.
- Do not use text on top of or inside images; it can’t be read by a screen reader. If you must do so, ensure the alt text included the text written over the image.
- Do not use flashing, flickering, or blinking items (e.g. GIFs) unless they flash less than three times per second, and do not use saturated red colors for flashing content.
- Accurately caption voice and vocals in video; do not paraphrase. Captions should be at least 95% accurate.
- Link to a captioned version of the file if captioned content is not possible in a social media platform.
- Prevent videos from playing automatically; allow users the choice to play the file.
Here are some best practices in improving the accessibility of social media for each platform:
- Facebook accessibility best practices
- Twitter accessibility best practices
- LinkedIn accessibility best practices
Register your University Social Media Site with the Office of Marketing and Communications.
Register your social media site.
To assist people in managing social media sites across campus, a Social Media Leadership Team has been established, with representatives from across the University. Members of the SMLT team are made up of faculty and staff members charged with communications oversight of University social media pages within their college, school, unit or division.
Social Media Disclaimers
- The University encourages social media users to interact with the University and each other but is not responsible for comments or posts made by followers of or visitors to University accounts. Comments posted by these individuals may not reflect the official views or policies of the University.
Suggested disclaimers for faculty and staff:
- Opinions are my own.
- Thoughts are my own.
- Content and information does not reflect the opinions or views of the University.
We have adapted some of the content on this page created by and with permission from our peers and at the University of Michigan, Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, all leaders in higher education social media.