Social Media Guidelines & Tips
AU employees have wide latitude to create and maintain a presence on social media channels. They should do so in ways that are professional, technically secure and transparent. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that content posted by, or on behalf of, any unit, division, or department adhere to all American University policies and to appropriate laws that govern the dissemination of public information.
Because social media channels are fairly new and evolving every day, the following guidelines were adapted from respected university and industry sources to provide guidance in using these forums effectively, protecting personal and professional reputation.
Set Your Goals
Units, divisions, or departments should consider their messages, audiences, and goals, as well as a strategy for keeping information on social media sites up-to-date.
Be Conversational, Yet Professional
Both in professional and institutional roles, employees need to follow the same behavioral standards online as they would in other forms of business communication. The same laws, professional expectations, and guidelines for interacting with students, parents, alumni, donors, media, and other university constituents apply online as in person. Employees are accountable for their posts on social media sites.
Posts on social media sites should protect the University’s institutional voice by remaining professional in tone and in good taste. Only the American University social media sites administered by University Communications and Marketing represent the University as a whole. No other individual or departmental site should be construed to represent the institution as a whole. Consider this when naming pages or accounts, selecting a profile picture or icon, and selecting content to post—names, profile images, and posts should all be clearly linked to the particular unit, division, or department rather than to the institution as a whole. Use the appropriate college or school visual identity for pages representing those units.
Deleting Posts and Comments
Notify users and followers that any comment or post that is vulgar, slanderous, spam, solicitations, or otherwise inappropriate will be deleted. Post this policy in the info section of your social media account and refer people to it when questioned over a deleted comment/post.
Download the complete American University Social Media Guidelines in PDF.
Social Media Tips
- Be active, be human
- Post at least once a day, but not more than 3 or 4 times a day or people will begin to "unlike" your page.
- Be sure to claim a vanity URL (e.g. facebook.com/americanuniversity) at facebook.com/username
- Share a variety of different content: news, photos, events, achievements (really popular), rankings, polls, and more. Be creative.
- Use a link shortening service like bitly.com for all links. These services allow you to track exactly how many people clicked on your posts, where they are from, and if they shared your link on Facebook or Twitter.
- Follow your Facebook insights and bitly.com data carefully to learn what content works and what content doesn't.
- Be conversational. Twitter is more about conversation than Facebook.
- Monitor all mentions of your school, office, or department on Twitter and respond when necessary or possible.
- Use services like TweetDeck or HootSuite, which allow multiple users, multiple accounts (several department accounts), scheduled tweets, and tweet management.
- Re-Tweet your followers, they like that.
- Follow hashtags (# and a topic, e.g. #AmericanU) relevant to your school or office and use those hashtags in your tweets to reach a broader audience.
- Use the #AmericanU hashtag in most tweets to reach a larger American University audience.