Princeton University uses social media to interact with a variety of audiences including current and prospective students, alumni, parents, employees and community members. Through various social platforms, life at Princeton is made accessible for a global audience.
At a university with so much to share, it should come as no surprise that Princeton has a presence on a wide range of social media platforms. Princeton’s audience expects an engaging social media experience, which means that no matter which Princeton accounts they choose to follow, we want to provide them with unique, creative, informative, engaging and consistent content. This means that across campus, multiple people become the voice of Princeton on social media.
The information presented here, in conjunction with campus-wide social media users group meetings and regular conversations with the social media team in Princeton’s Office of Communications, is meant to serve as a resource for Princeton social media managers working to make the most out of their unit’s social media efforts.
Office of Communications
The Office of Communications promotes and protects Princeton University’s reputation for excellence. The social media team in the Office of Communications manages the primary Princeton social media accounts, or all Princeton University accounts representative of the institution as a whole, and leads the University community in strategic social media efforts. The team is always available to answer questions or provide guidance for social media managers across campus and can be contacted at email@example.com.
Representative of departments, programs and initiatives throughout the University community, members of this group have been identified as social media leaders on campus by the Office of Communications. The Princeton Social Media Steering Committee meets regularly to identify and discuss issues that are important to all members of the Princeton social media community. Topics of discussion generally include strategies, tips and best practices and are always shared with the larger Social Media SPIN Group.
Social Media SPIN Group
The Social Media SPIN Group consists of every person who manages a Princeton social media account. The group meets throughout the year to share new ideas and learn while building cross-campus relationships. If you manage a Princeton social media account and are not sure if you’re a part of the group, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accounts managed by members of the SPIN group have been approved to represent Princeton on social media and adhere to the branding and content standards set by the Office of Communications. A list of approved accounts can be found in the Princeton Social Media Directory.
Whether you are deciding if a department or group you represent needs a social media presence, wondering if you should take on a new platform, need help with an upcoming campaign or want to reboot existing efforts, your first step should be to contact the social media team in the Office of Communications. The social media team will help you determine the most effective way to get your message across -- whether it’s creating a new account or utilizing an existing one.
Find tips and best practices on the Princeton Social Media Blog, where members of the Princeton social media community share valuable information about managing a professional social media presence. The Princeton Social Media Blog is updated with new posts each week. Hosting our best practices on a regularly updated blog allows us to evolve in our efforts as the field of social media constantly changes.
If the decision is made that a new account is necessary, it must be created and maintained by an authorized representative of the University. Account managers and contributors must adhere to all applicable University policies for property, privacy and civility outlined in “ Rights, Rules, Responsibilities” and the Princeton University Information Technology Policy, which sets forth the central policies governing all uses of the University’s information technology resources.
Princeton social media accounts should promote interaction and conversation with and between their followers. However, there may be a point at which an audience member posts something inappropriate for the general audience. The account manager is permitted to delete user comments per Princeton’s social media policy, which applies to all Princeton social media accounts. The policy is as follows:
Princeton University reserves the right to delete user comments that promote commercial ventures or that do not comply with other University or (platform) policies. Posts that are off-topic, abusive, contain profanity, are threatening in tone or devolve into personal attacks will be deleted. Account administrators reserve the right to review all comments and posted materials and remove such materials for any reason.
This policy should be listed on Facebook and other platforms that provide the space in an “About” section. As our social media audience members have a right to free speech, an account manager may only delete a comment that meets the criteria for deletion in the policy, not simply because the manager does not like or agree with the comment. Princeton social media account managers are expected to adhere to the policy as well, avoiding sharing posts that are off-topic, abusive, contain profanity, are threatening in tone or attack someone or a group of people.
Social media branding guidelines are meant to help our followers instantly and easily recognize our accounts as officially associated with Princeton University. The graphic identity of an account that meets Princeton’s social media branding standards is:
- Consistent: Profile pictures, or avatars, should be the same across platforms. For example, your profile picture on Facebook should always match your profile picture on Twitter. Your audience will come to recognize your account by your profile picture, so it should rarely, if ever, change. Cover photos, the horizontal images across the top of most social media profiles, should also match across platforms. Cover photos can be changed on a regular basis according to current events happening in your area of social media coverage or something more general, such as the seasons. Your account name should be the same across platforms as well.
- Visual: Profile pictures and cover photos should consist of images (a photo or text-free logo) instead of words. Text on a profile picture is too small to see on a mobile device, which is often what your audience uses to access your content. Including the name of your department, unit or group in your profile picture is also unnecessary because it’s listed on your profile and next to every post you publish across platforms. Cover photos are best as images as well. They show up differently on desktop and mobile, so text often gets cut off or covered depending on the device an audience member uses to access your social media profile.
- Unique: While your accounts should be unified in name, cover photo and profile picture, no image should be the same as another account’s. This will allow our audience members to differentiate between accounts and make it easier to find yours while scrolling through a feed.
Accounts must meet standards to be included in the directory. If you manage an account that does not meet branding standards, please contact the social media team in the Office of Communications for help.
Social media content should be the original work of a Princeton employee and link to a Princeton webpage when possible. Exceptions include sharing relevant posts by outside sources such as reputable news outlets and user-generated content.
User-generated content policy
User-generated content can be obtained when the owner of a photo or video shares it with a Princeton social media account via message, mentions the account’s handle, uses a hashtag promoted by the account or mentions the department, group, unit or initiative represented by the account. Social media users who engage in such actions allow Princeton University to use their content on its various social channels.
Account managers are encouraged to interact with other official Princeton social media accounts through tagging, mentions, shares, comments and retweets. Such interaction leads to cross-promotion, which is likely to increase awareness of multiple accounts among followers.
Account managers can also boost visibility by interacting with sources outside of the University, including news outlets and industry accounts that share information their followers would find interesting. Many platforms “verify” such accounts and add a small blue badge next to an account’s name to let users know it is legitimate.
A social media post that includes a photo or video will generally get a better response than a text post. We do not post photos, videos, memes or gifs without a Princeton connection because we want to give our followers an experience that is unique to the University.
Credit the original source when posting user-generated content. User-generated content can be obtained when the owner of a photo or video shares it with a Princeton social media account via message, mentions the account’s handle, uses a hashtag promoted by the account or mentions the department, group, unit or initiative the account represents.
Do not take or share photos or video of children under 18 without written consent by a parent or guardian. Most students sign a release when they start at Princeton giving permission to have their photo taken and published. Those who have not given permission may have placed FERPA restrictions on their records, so it’s best to ask first.
Use of copyrighted materials
Rights and permissions must be secured before posting, sharing or distributing copyrighted materials, including but not limited to: music, art, copyrighted photographs or texts, portions of copyrighted video or information considered proprietary by a University partner, vendor, affiliate or contractor.
Questions and requests for more information can be directed to Ryan Maguire, social media strategist in the Office of Communications, at email@example.com or (609) 258-5730.