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Overview

Social media is a fantastic tool that allows you to keep in touch with friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

It also lets organisations such as ours communicate what we have to offer to a huge audience, receive real-time feedback and provide help and advice.

The purpose of these guidelines is to enable staff to confidently convey who we are, what we stand for, and what we can offer the world on social media, and to be able to use the different platforms to our best advantage. 

The University’s Social Media Officer sits within the directorate of Marketing and External Relations, and is responsible for the management of the main University social media accounts.

They also oversee all social media activity with the University, and can offer advice and guidance on ensuring your social media presence doesn’t fall foul of University policy. For full details of services offered, take a look here.

Contact: social-media@salford.ac.uk

Best Practice

Platforms

Originally described as ‘micro-blogging’, Twitter gives you 280 characters to share your views and news with the world, also letting you attach images, videos and links.

Facebook allows much longer-form posts than Twitter, and generally connects you with a smaller group of people who are usually more closely known to you in real life. This doesn’t mean that your posts can’t be seen by a much wider audience though – if your posts are set to “public” then they can appear in the feeds of friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends, and so on…

LinkedIn is a professional networking site, where you can link with current and former colleagues, and make connections with those who you may want to do business with. It’s also excellent for job searching, and sharing best practice in your industry or sector, particularly through special interest “groups”.

Instagram may have become somewhat unfairly synonymous with photos of smashed avocado and enviable holiday destinations, but there is a certain truth to the stereotype. Instagram users are looking for high-quality, beautifully composed images, and out of focus camera-phone shots just won’t cut it. Users also appreciate originality – it’s not a place you would expect to see standard marketing material. For our purposes, it’s a fantastic space to show off the artistic work of our students.

Very popular with the 16-24-year-old demographic, Snapchat allows you to send a snap to your friends, which disappears forever once viewed. One of the most irreverent and fun platforms, a lot of Snapchat’s unique features, such as “lenses” and filters, have been adopted by some of the other social networking giants.

The biggest video sharing site in the world – YouTube receives around 30 million visitors per day. If you didn’t already know, video is king.

Pinterest, Weibo, WeChat, Google+, Vimeo. There are a huge number of social networking sites in existence, some exclusive to certain countries, some smaller, some of more or less relevance to the University. Contact the Social Media Officer if you’d like more information.

Hints and tips

Images

Social media has become increasingly visual, so using high-quality, relevant images is more important than ever to maximise engagement. Images which include text can be a great way to increase the amount of information you can convey on platforms with character restrictions, but bear in mind Facebook penalises images which are too text-heavy. Additionally, most people will be viewing social media content on a mobile phone, so lots of text isn’t always going to be readable on a small screen. See also: social media image size cheat sheet.

Video

Social media users have short attention spans and also usually view content with the sound turned off. This means best practice when creating/sharing video content is to keep it short – 45 seconds or under – with an attention-grabbing opening frame. Also try to ensure the piece can be understood without sound, or include subtitles.

Hashtags

Social media posts should be as readable as you would make anything else. “#Check #out #this #great #video #with #puppies #and #kittens” can be difficult to comprehend. Hashtags can be a useful way to aggregate content around a particular subject, but they are temporary and no-one is able to “own” one as such. You should check that the same one isn’t already in use before publicising to prevent confusion and mixed messages.

Privacy

There are various privacy settings that you can employ on all of the social media platforms to restrict the visibility of your profile and posts. Whilst it’s important to protect ourselves and others from unwanted interactions, it’s worth bearing in mind that some may hamper you in fully sharing your message with the widest audience.

On the other hand, posts can sometimes receive a large amount of unwanted attention. Deleting posts that you no longer want to be visible, for whatever reason, is understandable, but bear in mind that the original may have been screenshotted. It’s often better to address the issue and clarify in a subsequent post, if necessary, to ensure complete transparency and avoid looking like you’ve got something to hide.

Analytics

So you’ve crafted a perfectly worded, informative post, attached a compelling image, and sent at the optimum time. You can sit back and bask in the knowledge that all your hard-won followers will soon be appreciating your handiwork, right? Unfortunately not.

With the average social media user following such a large amount of fellow users, friends and brands, the amount of content they have the potential to see is overwhelmingly huge. Social networking sites use algorithms, or a set of rules, to manage this – displaying only the posts that they think you’ll be most interested in. As they base what they think you’ll be interested in on what you’ve engaged with before, the moral of the story here is post content that is useful to your followers, and piques their interest.

Monitor closely what works and what doesn’t work, so you can give followers more of what they want, and consequently achieve a bigger reach next time.

Help and Resources

Setting up a University social media account:

If you would like to set up a University social media account, get in touch with the Social Media Officer. Rule of thumb is – if the bio will refer to the University of Salford in any way, contact us.

There are 100s of social media accounts associated with the University in existence, so it may be that there is already an account set up which will meet your needs. We may also be able to share your content on the central accounts, reaching a much larger audience.

A University social media account must:

  • Include a profile picture, cover photo and bio which conforms to the corporate brand guidelines. These can be supplied by the Social Media Officer.  
  • Be managed through the approved social media management platform, currently Hootsuite.  
  • Be associated with a functional, rather than personal email address, supplied to the Social Media Officer for record purposes.  
  • If a presence on YouTube is required, this usually must sit as a playlist on the University’s YouTube channel, rather than as a separate account.  

Please contact social-media@salford.ac.uk to arrange account creation and training.

If you have responsibility for running a social media account you must inform the Social Media Officer if you leave your post to free up a Hootsuite licence.

How the Social Media Officer can help:

- Advice on the best platforms to reach your intended audience.

- Access to the social media management platform used by the University, enabling post scheduling and analytics.

- Branded assets and graphics.

- Content templates for quick sharing.

- Content idea generation session with the wider Content Team.

- Consultancy and campaign planning.

- Wider promotion and sharing of content through the main University social media channels.

- Advice on naming conventions.

- Reputation management.

Reputation Management

Compliance:

It is the responsibility of all staff to comply with consumer protection legislation. The CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) and ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) regulations are the most relevant to our activity within the University, and all staff should be aware of how they could fall foul of these in their communications on social media. Recent scrutiny of the activities of the higher education sector in this area means that it is more crucial than ever to demonstrate that our social media content complies with our legal obligations.

  • Don't make claims about course content, facilities, partnerships, career opportunities or similar that can't be substantiated. Signpost enquirers to current and relevant further information on our website, or direct them to contact an appropriate department.
  • If referencing league table positions, always quote the most up to date standings, rather than referring to previous years.
  • Don't make direct comparisons with other institutions.
  • Talk about current conditions affecting courses of study, rather than speculating about the future.
  • Don't risk misleading people by omission. Don't leave things out, such as hidden course costs.

Any staff member representing the University observed to be in breach of the above will have the activity flagged to the relevant parties. 

Copyright:

To avoid copyright infringement, please ensure you own or have paid for any images or video you use directly in your posts.

Reputation management and abuse:

It is an important part of the role of a university to stimulate debate, challenge and inform. It is therefore inevitable that some of our work and research will engender strong opinions and create lively debate.

Whilst we should defend our research, work and ethos, accounts which are associated with the University must be careful not to claim to speak for the whole of the institution. Don’t get drawn into commenting on areas that aren’t your field of expertise.

To assist with this and prevent confusion, the bio/about section of University social media profiles should clearly state:

  • Who runs the account, and whether this changes on a regular basis (curated by a community, for example)
  • What department/course it is affiliated to.
  • What the purpose of the account is.  

If you are running a personal social media account which could easily identify you with the University, then make sure to include a “views own” disclaimer in the bio.

Whilst we should seek to try and resolve genuine issues and concerns quickly, avoid getting into lengthy discussions with trolls and those posting abuse. This can quickly descend into farce and get personal – that’s not appropriate when you’re representing the University. If you wouldn’t say something to another person face to face, you also shouldn’t say it using social media.

Inappropriate comment and content can lead to complaints as well as consideration of disciplinary action by the University. Your responsibilities with regards to appropriate conduct on social media form part of the ICT acceptable usage policy which all staff members are required to adhere to.

Contact the Social Media Officer on social-media@salford.ac.uk for further advice.

Directory

There are a whole range of social media accounts across the University representing different departments, courses and services. We’ve categorised them below to make it easy for you to find ones that are relevant to you.

Run a University social media account and would like it adding to the directory? Contact the Social Media Officer on social-media@salford.ac.uk to arrange.