These guidelines will help you more effectively represent the university and your campus organization on social media.
University Communications sponsors a social media committee, which meets monthly to share best practices and stays in touch through a Facebook group. Participation is open to anyone managing social media for a BYU entity. The committee also conducts an annual social media awards program called the #GoldenHashtags.
There are a number of success stories out there and things we can learn from each other. For example, we’ve learned that Adam Parker in Licensing and Trademark Administration is helpful at reclaiming a domain name that’s rightfully yours. To facilitate these kinds of conversations, we’ve created a BYU social media directory so you can see what others around campus are doing. You can also submit information to have your social media presence registered with us.
For more information, contact Jon McBride in University Communications.
Have a Clear Vision
Before you open the social media toolbox, determine what you want to accomplish. Are you trying to pack the de Jong Concert Hall for a Women’s Chorus performance? Help your students land jobs? Increase the number of ORCA grant applications?
Social media can help with all of those objectives and more. Yet without a clear purpose, you may end up spinning your wheels.
Simply engaging others through social media may be fun, but getting results that make your boss smile is even more fun. The best way to do that is to have well-defined objectives and to articulate what you’d like to be known for. Then be sure that your social media administrators stay true to those goals and messages.
Remember, monitoring social media networks, creating fresh content, and measuring results can be very time consuming. Mastering one social media tool is better than having a sporadic voice on many platforms.
A common concern that bosses have with social media is time: will it distract employees from completing their other work? Having a clear purpose can eliminate the inclination to wander online for hours. Make sure you understand your supervisor’s priorities for your time at work. The more they trust you, the better chance you have for getting buy-in for your new social media plans.
Represent BYU and Its Sponsor
Regardless of the forum, information from a university is expected to be factual, grammatical, and correctly spelled. BYU’s mission raises the standard even higher. The following points from the Honor Code statement are particularly relevant to your social media presence:
- Be honest
- Live a chaste and virtuous life
- Use clean language
- Respect others
- Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards
When sharing content that others have created, it is always a good idea to click through a few pages of a link to be sure that the rest of the site’s content fits the expectations of the BYU community.
Another aspect of representing BYU is getting the brand to look and feel right. The official logos are available for download on the logos page; this site also includes guidelines for your organization’s visual identity.
Establish a Comments Policy
Hearing from your fans is at the core of social media. Inevitably, though, you will receive criticism. If handled thoughtfully, your responses can help educate, make amends, and restore trust. Be cautious not to overreact—often your other fans may chime in to support you.
Most platforms allow you to receive an email notification for each new comment. Be sure to have at least one full-time employee (not just students) receive comment notifications.
In some circumstances, you may deem a comment offensive and choose to remove it. It helps to have already established a comment moderation policy. As an example, here is the comments policy used on the official BYU Facebook page:
Comments are moderated and will remain posted if they are on topic, use clean language, and show respect for others. Please note that comments that are profane, crude, insensitive, off topic, or contain personal attacks will be removed. BYU also reserves the right to remove comments that contain commercial solicitations.
The process for removing an offending comment is different for each social media platform. In some forums, including Facebook, you have the option of permanently blocking a specific individual.
Naming and Avatars
To clearly identify your organization on social media, your organization name should include “BYU” (e.g, BYU Humanities, BYU Men’s Chorus, BYU Mechanical Engineering). For your avatar, we recommend photography or a BYU logo.
A photograph of your building, your people, or something that represents your subject matter is an effective way to communicate your identity. Photography also provides you an opportunity to refresh your look from time to time.
Several of BYU’s official logos work well as social media avatars. If you use a BYU logo as an avatar, the background must be navy, white, or royal.
If your visual identity includes an approved symbol or icon, that may be used as a social media avatar. No other symbols should be used.
Text is not recommended in social media avatars, but it can work if done well. Consider these best practices:
- Avatars are small, which makes most text difficult to read. If you use text in your avatar, be sure it is large enough to be legible.
- Social media platforms generally display your organization name next to the avatar, so you do not need to repeat your full name in the small avatar graphic.
- Initials, acronyms, or shortened names can be effective, but remember that other campus entities may share similar names, initials, and acronyms. Also be cautious of initials or acronyms that may communicate something you do not intend.
Students, Passwords, and Privacy
Student employees can play a helpful role in your social media efforts. If your students are sharing material and responding through social media, you ought to have a mechanism for reviewing the information they post on your organization’s behalf.
It is also best to reset account passwords anytime there is turnover among the people that have access to your social media accounts. Consider using third-party applications that are built for multiple users on a single account (many are free). Using these tools can help you avoid any misuse by former employees.
Students’ education records are protected by federal laws. Please be aware of these guidelines.