The heart of social media, and what makes it social, is the two-way communication, interaction, and sharing of information that take place between users.
Social media is not about talking at people; it’s about talking with people. For organizations, social media platforms are, first and foremost, communications channels that connect us directly with members of our audience.
Creating social media accounts for your department or unit is a strategic decision, and you should be able to identify goals for your social media program that support the mission of your office and the university as a whole. There are a few questions your office should address:
- What are your communication goals, and are there needs that aren’t currently being addressed by your website, newsletter, or other properties?
- Who is your audience and what do they need?
- Does your office have the resources to consistently maintain a social presence? Is there someone who can write, create, and curate content on a regular basis, respond to questions in a timely manner, etc.?
- Which social platform or platforms are you interested in joining and why?
Our social media guidelines provide parameters and best practices for university employees representing the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in a professional manner through official university social media accounts.
Guidance includes information about establishing and administering official accounts, moderating user-generated content, maintaining personal and professional accounts, accessibility, and managing takeovers.
The details will evolve over time due to the ever-changing nature of the social media landscape, and we will update these guidelines as needed.
Top 10 Social Tips
Beyond the do’s and don’ts presented in the social media guidelines, the points below will help direct you as you navigate managing your unit’s official social media accounts.
- Take care of your social media audience the way you would take care of Smokey. Lots of attention; feed regularly.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread.
- Social media can be a fun way to interact with your followers. This does not make it any less a professional avenue of communication.
- Social media accounts managed by campus units represent the unit and the university. They should not be used to express the ideas or opinions of individual staff or faculty members.
- Social media is not an 8 to 5 job, but you should give yourself a curfew—with the exception of emergency situations if this applies to your office.
- Follow other UT accounts and rely on our campus’s social community for help.
- Know your audience across your platforms. Your Facebook users will differ from your Instagram users.
- Include photos or other media whenever possible. These posts will have more engagement. Make sure all images and graphics meet accessibility standards. Learn more about accessibility standards in digital communications.
- Make the most of your Twitter interactions by adding a character before the @ symbol when it appears at the beginning of a tweet. Think of this as a reply all, as more of your followers will see them. You also can quote tweets if you want to add a comment when retweeting.
- Tag other UT accounts in your tweets and Instagram and Facebook posts if you think the content may be relative to them or their followers. On Twitter, you can tag other users in photos without using up additional characters.
Social Media Platform Logos
You should always use the most up-to-date branding elements provided by social media companies when you promote your accounts.
Follow the branding guidelines linked below for each social platform you maintain accounts with.
NOTE: If your site’s WordPress installation is hosted through the Office of Communications and Marketing and you use the UT Social Media Widget, the social media logos on your site will be automatically updated any time there is an update.
Check out the UT social media account directory.