Social Media Guidelines and Best Practices
Social media is a powerful tool that allows you to connect and build relationships with the Westminster community. The following social media guidelines and best practices will help you effectively manage a social media presence and positively promote Westminster College.
All Westminster College social media accounts are a voice for the institution and a reflection of institutional values. Before creating a social media account associated with the college, please follow these steps:
Effectively running a social media account is a significant responsibility that is easier said than done. Below are a few questions to ask yourself before creating a new Westminster-affiliated account.
Do I need a social media channel?
A successful social media account takes careful planning and requires dedicated time and staff management to keep it afloat. Instead of creating a presence on all social media platforms at once, narrow it down to one or two apps to hone. Inactive social media reflect poorly on the college, so please ask yourself these questions before creating an account:
- Do I have a defined goal?
- Do I know my audience?
- Do I know if my audience is using social channels? Which one(s)?
- Is my audience talking about my topic on social media? Where?
- Have I identified a need I can fill or value I can provide to my online community?
- Are there others on campus that already share those messages?
- Can I join forces? Can I consolidate? What am I uniquely bringing to the table?
Do I have capacity to manage an account effectively?
Establishing and cultivating an effective social media channel is a lot of work. Building a loyal following takes time, resources, and quality content. You must be willing to follow Westminster brand guidelines and best practices. We also recommend you consider these questions when starting an account:
- Who will manage the account(s)?
- How often will you post? Will you follow a posting schedule?
- Do you have the resources to create engaging and shareable content?
- Do you have reliable internet access for posting, engaging with audience members, and securing your account?
- Are you aware of our social media guidelines and best practices?
- Have you read the Westminster social media policy?
What’s next after deciding I need a social media account?
- Contact Chanae Allred to set up a meeting to discuss your vision and plans.
- We will provide you with channel-specific best practices for details on setting up an account, including choosing profile pictures, generating recognizable usernames, providing basic information about your channel, and more.
- Develop a 6-month social media calendar including the content you plan to create and how you hope to build your audience.
- Use a Westminster email (@westminstercollege.edu) when verifying the account.
- At least 2 people (staff or faculty) in your area need access to the account.
- You must register the account with the college. This gets the account listed in the social media directory and ensures support from Westminster’s Office of Marketing and Communication.
How do I best run my account?
Now that you have gone through the process of brainstorming content and setting up an account, please look over these tips and tricks that will help you get the most out of a social media presence. Remember, interacting on social media is akin to holding a conversation on a much larger scale. Listen to what your audience has to say, what content they want to receive, and tailor your content to those specifications.
How should I handle a negative comment from someone?
Dealing with negativity online can be difficult. Always opt to apologize, correct a mistake, and offer better in the future—instead of deleting negative comments— if you run into an issue with our audience.
If you need further support or resources, contact Chanae Allred.
If your official Westminster social media account isn't listed in the social media directory, review the account guidelines and best practices on this page and register your account.
The social media directory is a central listing of official Westminster College social media channels. If your official Westminster social media account isn't listed, review the guidelines on this webpage and register your account.
Who are you addressing? What is the purpose of your account? Knowing your audience and your goals will help you create quality content. As you are more thoughtful and selective about what you post and how often, you will have a greater impact on reaching and retaining your followers.
Be honest about your identity. Establishing and maintaining a clear depiction of who you are and the purpose of your account gives you credibility. You are more likely to grow your account if your social media presence appears trustworthy and intentional. Be sure to credit creators if you retrieve any outside information or visuals and repurpose them.
When posting and interacting with your audience: do not use slurs, profanity, obscene language, or engage in any conduct that violates Westminster’s community guidelines. Be mindful of sensitive topics such as politics and religion when operating online. Remember that you are representing an institution, not yourself, your program, or your office on campus.
Put the social back in social media. If someone tags you or comments on your content, acknowledge them. Interacting with your audience shows that you care and see them not just as a number but as a member of your community. In turn, your audience will be more inclined to engage with your content in the future.
Establish a secure and safe mode for running the account. Determining who runs your account impacts the fluidity and security of your page. If your program lead is not adept at using social media, find someone in the group who is, and task them with running the account.
Instagram Takeover Examples
From colorblindness to hearing loss, millions of people worldwide live with disabilities that affect the way they receive and process information. Inclusion on social media isn’t just about what you post—it’s about how you post as well. Your approach to developing ethical creative must include a commitment to ensuring everything you create can be appreciated by all, regardless of ability.
Here are a few steps you can take to make your social media content and digital content more accessible for everyone.
Alt text tells people what is in an image, such as text or basic essential details. It is strongly recommended that alt text be 125 characters or less to ensure compatibility for popular screen readers.
Alt text and image descriptions are concise and descriptive. They should effectively describe the photo. For example, if the post was a photo of a student with their dog on campus, here are two examples of what you could write:
- Good: A student with their dog on campus.
- Better: An undergraduate student smiles with their black dog on the lawn in front of Bassis Center for Student Learning.
Learn more about alt text in social media generally and on these specific channels:
- On Facebook: replace the text to provide a better description of a photo.
- On Instagram: you will need to write alt-text for each of your posts.
- On Twitter: make sure you add an image description for the photo.
In any videos you upload, add closed captions.
- YouTube uses speech recognition technology to automatically create captions for your video.
- You can add captions to a Facebook video by uploading a SubRip (.srt) file, or Facebook will automatically generate captions for videos you upload on Business pages.
- Instagram will generate captions for IGTV and Instagram Stories (select the captions feature in the stickers). Videos uploaded in the feed will need to have captions added before uploading. The free app Captions allows you to add subtitles to your videos. Record in-app, and the captions will automatically generate. You can manually go in and edit any mistakes before saving the finished video.
Always capitalize the first letter of each word in the hashtag so that the software can detect where to start and stop.
Examples: #WestminsterSLC #GoGriffins
Real students. Real stories. On the regular. Use #WestminsterSLC to be featured.