Guidelines

About

Princeton University uses social media to interact with a variety of audiences including current and prospective students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff, community members and beyond. Through various social platforms, life at Princeton is made accessible for a global audience.

At a university with so much content and news to share, it should come as no surprise that Princeton has a presence on a wide range of social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Weibo and YouTube. Princeton’s audiences expect 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 through social media.

Thinking about creating a new Princeton-affiliated social media channel? Contact the Princeton Social Media Team.

Office of Communications

The Princeton University Office of Communications promotes and protects the University’s reputation for excellence. The Princeton Social Media Team in the Office of Communications manages the primary Princeton University social media accounts (all Princeton University accounts representative of the institution as a whole) and leads the University community in strategic social media efforts.

The Princeton Social Media Team is not only responsible for managing the main University social media channels, but ensuring that all Princeton-affiliated accounts provide engaging content that represents Princeton University as a leader in the higher education space.

The team is available to answer any questions or provide guidance for University employees at pusocialmedia@princeton.edu.

The Princeton Social Media Network

The Princeton Social Media Network consists of staff or faculty members who are interested in social media or manage a social media account. The group meets throughout the year to share new ideas and learn while building cross-campus relationships. The Princeton Social Media Team schedules these meetings in addition to sending out a weekly newsletter to make campus communicators aware of Princeton social media news, industry updates and more. If you’d like to attend these meetings and/or receive this newsletter, please email pusocialmedia@princeton.edu.

Account Management

Creating A New Account

Thinking about creating a new social media account for a department or program you represent? Your first step should be to contact the Princeton Social Media Team for guidance. The team will help you determine the most effective way to get your message across - whether it’s by creating a new account, utilizing an existing one or looking to other forms of communication.

Responsibilities

Princeton-affiliated accounts must be maintained by an authorized employee of the University. While Princeton University students may create and draft content, University employees must be responsible for approving and publishing content for University channels. Managers should be using LastPass to manage their social media passwords. 

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. When it comes to copyrighted materials, please visit the Copyrighted Materials section.

Branding

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.
    • * Exceptions include cover videos. In that instance, still images on your other platforms should be drawn from the cover video.
  • 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.

Social Media Directory

In order to be recognized as an official University account and listed on the Princeton Social Media Directory, accounts must meet the standards listed below. If your account(s) need to be added, or if you need help meeting these standards, please contact the Princeton Social Media Team. Accounts who are listed on the Social Media Directory also have access to the University’s Social Media Admin Resource Tool Box.

Social Media Directory Guidelines

  • Register with the Princeton Social Media Team

  • Matching Profile Photos

  • Matching Cover Photos

  • Active (must have posted within the last 30 days)

  • Using alt-text

  • Using captions

  • Account Manager(s) utilizing a shared folder on LastPass

  • Account Manager(s) must be University Employee

  • Using appropriate language and messaging that best represents the University 

The Princeton Social Media Team reserves the right to remove any accounts from the directory if they do not abide by these guidelines.

Community Management

Interaction

Account managers are encouraged to interact with other official Princeton social media accounts and others within the University community through tagging, mentions, shares, comments and retweets. Such interaction leads to cross-promotion, which is likely to increase awareness of multiple accounts among followers.

Policy on Freedom of Speech and Comment Deletion

Princeton University 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-affiliated 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 your account’s Facebook page in the About section, as well as other platforms that provide the space and your department’s website. 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.

User-generated content policy

User-generated content (or UGC) 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 to use their content on its various social channels.

When posting user-generated content, be sure to credit the original source (send users a direct message for additional information such as class year).

Content

Accessibility

When social media platforms or management tools allow for alternative text (aka alt text) descriptions on images, you should provide them. Alt text is available on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Such text descriptions of images will be read aloud to non-sighted to low-sighted users who rely on screen readers to consume social media content.

For video content, you should provide captions of the audio for the benefit of those without hearing, who are hard-of-hearing and who are non-native speakers. Captions can be either closed captions (where a user can turn them on and off( or open captions (where the text is embedded into the video and cannot be turned on or off. For more information on video captioning and vendors to send your videos to for captioning, visit the OIT Video Accessibility Guidelines page.

When typing out hashtags, use initial capitalization, also known as CamelCase. Utilizing this simple technique makes the hashtag easier to read for all users and is more consumable by screenreaders.

Emojis displayed on a screen will be described by a screen reader. Please be considerate of screen reader users by using emojis judiciously and by placing spaces between them.

For more information on social media accessibility, please visit the OIT Social Media Accessibility Guidelines page.

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 of information considered proprietary by a University partner, vendor, affiliate or contractor.

Resources

Photo and video consent

Most Princeton students sign a photo release when they start at the University, 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. Do not take or share photos or video of children under 18 without written consent by a parent or guardian. Please visit the Office of Communications Contracts & Forms page to obtain photo and video consent forms.

Livestreaming

For campus events and lectures that appeal to a wider audience, campus communicators have the option to livestream activities onto social media accounts. This can be done through the platforms themselves (using Facebook Live, Twitter’s Periscope and Instagram Live) or with a professional set-up and stream through OIT’s Video Production Support (VPS). VPS can provide on-location video production and livestreaming services that can include live captioning. For more information on their services, please visit the Video Production Support page.

Multimedia

A social media post that includes a photo or video will generally get a better response than a post with only text. We discourage posting photos, videos  or GIFs without a Princeton connection because we want to give our followers an experience that is unique to the University.

The Princeton University photo library contains a collection of over 10,000 photos of Princeton people, places and events. These photos may be used by University employees for University social media accounts. (Photos may not be used for commercial purposes without permission.) An account is required to access the archive, so please contact our photo archivist to get started. 

University Hashtags

For a list of University branded hashtags for events, campaigns, etc., visit the Princeton University Hashtag Directory.

Contact

Questions and requests for more information can be directed to the Princeton Social Media Team.

Glossary

  • Alt Text (or alternative text): A word or phrase that can tell users the nature or contents of an image

  • Avatar (also known as a profile image/photo): An icon or photo that represents the identity of the account

  • CamelCase: The practice of writing phrases such that each word or abbreviation begins with a capital letter

  • Campus Communicator: A Princeton University employee who is responsible for their department/unit’s communications

  • Channel: A social media source like Twitter or Facebook; interchangeable with “platform”

  • Content: Words, links, photos, videos or GIFs that you would publish to your social media account

  • Cover Photo: The horizontal photo that is displayed across the top of your social media profile

  • Digital Accessibility: the ability of a website, mobile app or electronic document to be easily navigated and understood by a wide range of users, including those users who have visual, auditory, motor or cognitive disabilities

  • DM or Direct Message (also known as PM/Private Message): A message that can only be seen by those sending and receiving; not for public consumption

  • Engagement: Definition varies by platform; in general, engagement measures likes, shares, RTs and comments

  • Handle: Refers to your account’s public name that can be tagged or mentioned in social media posts by using the “@” symbol; also known as a username

  • Hashtag: A word or phrase preceded by “#” that is used on social media to identify messages about a specific topic

  • Impressions: Definition varies by platform; in general, impressions refer to the number of times your content has been displayed on a screen

  • GIF (Graphic Interchange Format): A moving image with no audio that loops and can be shared on social media

  • Link Shortener: A website that reduces the length of your URL

  • Meme: A popular photo, video, image or phrase on social media that is often copied & given individual variations 

  • Mention: When you are tagged in a post, meaning another account literally “mentions” your account on their platform

  • Platform: A social media source like Twitter or Facebook; interchangeable with “channel”

  • Platform Manager or Management Tool: A website or application that can assist in creating, scheduling, analyzing and engaging with social media content (ex. Hootsuite)

  • Reach: Definition varies by platform; in general, reach refers to the total number of people who have seen your content

  • Social Media Account: A profile set up on: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, Weibo, WeChat, WhatsApp, TikTok, VSCO or GIPHY

  • Social Media Manager: The person who is in charge of your department/unit’s social media accounts (also known as administrator)

  • Tagging: Using the “@” symbol to mention another user/account; or, selecting those featured in a photo; or, selecting the location in which the photo was taken

  • Verified: A verified account is that which has been established as the authentic presence of that department/unit/person; it is often denoted with a blue checkmark next to the username

  • Viral: Trending, popular, shared worldwide