Social Media Guides

Consider using Saint Mary's University of Minnesota's social media outlets before starting a separate social media presence for your program, office, or department.

If you have information you would like posted on any of these outlets, please fill out a Marketing and Communication service request form. If you have questions or need assistance, contact Interactive Marketing Director Virginia Copeman at vcopeman@smumn.edu or 507-457-6981.

Before you decide that you need your own social media presence, consider the following:

Be Strategic

Best practices for social media include being strategic, creative, and knowing your audiences. Social media is meant to be an engaging, two-way communication. The goal is to have dialogue rather than one-way communication, so it’s much more than just information sharing.

Create a Plan

Answer these questions: What is the purpose? Who is your intended audience? What type of content do you want to share? How can you continually engage your “followers” and create two-way dialogue? If you don’t think you can create a content plan for at least a year, it’s best to use existing university tools and seek the help of Marketing and Communication staff members.

Be Responsible

Someone needs to be the owner of the social media site. This needs to be a person who can dedicate time and resources to maintain it on an ongoing basis. This ought to be a university employee rather than a student, because students graduate and take their passwords with them.

Do Your Research

Look at other organizations' social media sites to see how they are doing things. Find out what works and what doesn't. Join or watch discussion groups via LinkedIn or other sites to get and share ideas.

Measure Success

How will success be measured for your site? It should be outcome-based, not output-based.

Click on the links below for more information about Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Profile, Page, or Group?

There is a difference! Before deciding which you want to use, here are a few key points:

  • Profiles are individual, personal, accounts. You need to approve anyone who wants to be your Facebook friend.
  • Pages are for promoting an organization, business, department, celebrity, mascot, etc. Anyone can “like” a page. Everyone can see your posts and click on your links, however, only people who “like” the page can engage with your content (comment, like or share). Pages are accessible and searchable by the general public. Statistical data can be obtained.
  • Groups can be used as a forum venue. You can allow anyone to be a group member or limit who may join. Statistical data is not available with a Group.
  • More information can be found on the Facebook Help pages.

Departmental Facebook Pages

New Pages
If you wish to start a Departmental Facebook page, Submit a Social Media Service Request and include:

  • Names of the person/people who will be maintaining the page. Include links to their current Facebook profiles so that they may be invited to become administrators to the new page. Even though Facebook Page administrators have access to the page through their personal profiles, there is no way for the public to see who the administrators of the page are. Administrators can be changed at any time so it’s easy switch when needed.
  • Two photos:
    • Cover Photo: The large photo or graphic that is in the header of your page. This is only visible to those who visit your page. For best results use a photo that is at least 851x315 pixels. You may use a larger photo, but you will be asked to adjust your photo so the visible area is proportionate to 851x315. You may submit a design service request to get a custom cover photo created for you.
    • Profile Photo: The smaller photo or graphic that everyone sees next to your status updates in their newsfeed. Profile photo should be at least 180x180 pixels. Larger photos work well as long as they are square.
  • Review Saint Mary’s branding resources for photo styles.
  • Contact information: Full name and address of department along with telephone, email and the url of your department landing page.
  • Short description: A brief description of the department or the purpose of the page.
  • Long description: More in-depth description of the department. If a long description is not provided, the Saint Mary’s boilerplate will be used.

Existing Pages
The Interactive Marketing Director needs to be included as an administrator on all Facebook pages that officially represent Saint Mary’s in order to facilitate continuity of the account during times of faculty, staff, or student changes.

  • Invite saintmarys@smumn.edu to be an administrator on your page.
  • Pages created and maintained by students that represent student groups/clubs need to also have at least one faculty or staff administrator.

Make sure your Facebook page meets the new Saint Mary’s Branding Guidelines.

  • Use the Facebook Checklist to help you make sure your page will meet the guidelines.
  • Submit a social media service request to get your Facebook page listed on the social media directory.

Keeping Your Facebook Page Active
Only active Facebook pages will be included in the Social Media Directory. Seasonal pages will still be included in the Social Media Directory as long as there is a final post explaining reason for their downtimes and when it should be expected to become active again.

  • Post status updates to your wall at least once a week, ideally post 3-4 times per week.
  • Share status updates from other Saint Mary’s Facebook pages.
  • Link to the Saint Mary’s website to help direct more traffic there.
  • Use an active, conversational voice. This is an informal means of communications. Be relaxed and have fun with it. Remember the Saint Mary’s branding initiative and use recommended language. Review Saint Mary’s Writing Style Guide to follow our branded messaging and language use.
  • Keep a content calendar. That will allow you to plan posts ahead of time.
  • Weekly themes for your posts are a way to ensure the page stays active. For example: Trivia Tuesdays, Throwback Thursdays, Fill-in-the-blank Fridays, etc.
  • Schedule posts in advance. This is helpful if you have news that you want to get out in a timely manner. Remember to monitor the page afterward for any comments that may need immediate attention.
  • Change your cover photo every once in a while to freshen your page, maybe reflect the current season, upcoming event, etc.
  • Add photos, show off your department events, faculty, staff, etc.
  • Encourage audience engagement by asking questions, posting links to current events to start a conversation. It doesn’t always have to be about what’s happening on campus.
  • Have your page “Like” all of the other Saint Mary’s Facebook pages. This makes sharing content easier and increases the potential for each page to get new likes and to reach a larger audience.
  • If a page has not been used recently, deactivate it. Not having a page is better than having an outdated and forgotten one. Deactivating a page is not deleting it. It’s just making unfindable until you decide to either reactivate it or delete it completely.

Engaging With Your Audience
Keeping your page updated with status updates and photos is only half the responsibility of managing a page. Engaging with your audience is just as important.

  • Respond to questions and comments in a timely manner. If you don’t know the answer to a question, notify them that you are forwarding the question to someone who can help and will get back to them. This communication lets them know that they are not being ignored.
  • Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Don’t delete negative comments just because they are negative (unless they are violent, injurious, extremely profane, etc). This is your opportunity to show that we value other opinions, explain a misunderstood situation, promote the university in a new light, etc. Respond to these promptly and professionally. Sometimes people just want to blow off steam and no response is necessary. If you get a negative comment that you don’t know what to do with, you may always contact the Interactive Marketing Director to help with an appropriate response.
  • Delete any spam postings that sneak in.
  • If someone comments on your status updates or photos, “like” their comments as your page. This shows that you have seen their comments and acknowledge them. If appropriate, respond to them, start a conversation.
  • Always know who you are posting as. By default, if you are on the page, you will be posting, commenting, and liking as your page. It is possible to toggle between your own profile and the Page so that you may comment and like from your personal profile.
  • Pay attention to trending news/current events
  • Be sensitive: If you have generic updates scheduled during a time of national tragedy, take them off the schedule. Either remain silent or extend our thoughts and prayers to whomever/wherever the tragedy happened.
  • Be current: If something important and/or popular happens such as the Super Bowl, meteor shower, local news story, etc, talk about it. Ask questions of your audience – what do they think?

Departmental Facebook Groups

If you wish to start a Departmental Facebook group, Submit a Social Media Service Request and include:

  • Names of the person/people who will be maintaining the group. Include links to their current Facebook profiles so that they may be invited to become administrators to the new group. When posting to groups, you post as yourself not as the group.
  • A Cover Photo:
    • The large photo or graphic that is in the header of your page. This is only visible to those who visit your page. For best results use a photo that is at least 851x315 pixels. You may use a larger photo, but you will be asked to adjust your photo so the visible area is proportionate to 851x315. You may submit a design service request to get a custom cover photo created for you.
  • Review Saint Mary’s branding resources for photo styles (located in the downloadable Brand Book).
  • A short description of what the group is about and what people can expect from joining the group.
  • Indicate whether you want your group to be open or closed.
  • Open means that anyone can see all posts made by all members.
  • Closed means that only group members can see posts.
  • If you already have a Facebook group and would like it added to the social media directory, email a link to the group to saintmarys@smumn.edu for consideration.

Social Media Legal Notes

  • Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Saint Mary's University, students, employees, or alumni. Be aware of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations.
  • Respect copyright and fair use: Give credit where credit is due.
  • When using or posting online material that includes direct or paraphrased quotes, thoughts, ideas, photos, or videos, always include citations. Provide a link to the original material if applicable.
  • If you identify yourself as a Saint Mary’s University faculty/staff member on your personal social media sites, it should be clear that the views expressed are not necessarily those of the institution.
  • We retain the right to hide/delete any comment that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing, abusive, slanderous, hateful, or embarrassing to any other person or entity as determined by Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in its sole discretion.

Use this checklist to help make sure your Facebook Page meets Saint Mary’s social media branding guidelines. All Facebook pages must meet these guidelines to be included on the social media directory. Review Saint Mary’s branding resources.

Name of Page
Do NOT use SMU in the name of your page. Social media has potential for international coverage and it’s easy to get us confused with all the other “SMUs” in the world. Recommended page names for Saint Mary’s related pages:

  • Spell out Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota followed by your department/office or entity name.
  • Saint Mary’s University or SMUMN may be acceptable options if needed for length but needs to be approved in advance by the Interactive Marketing Director.
  • SMU or St. Mary’s Univ. of MN may NOT be used.

Page URL

Recommended url format is:

  • facebook.com/smumn.[your abbreviated department name or entity]

Contact Information

Let your audience know where we are and how to contact you.

  • Email contact: This should be a smumn.edu email address.

  • Address: Use the main address for your campus, no need to add buildings, or mailbox numbers.

  • Phone: Use your department’s main phone number

Link to Website

If your department or club has a specific webpage, feel free to link to it. Otherwise you may link to the main smumn.edu page.

Short Description

Include an abbreviated description of your department or club. Let your audience know what they can expect to see on your Facebook page.

Long Description

This is where you may describe your department or club in greater detail. If a long description is not provided, the Saint Mary’s boilerplate should be used.

Profile Photo

This must be a quality photo or graphic that represents your Facebook Page. If you would like to use the Saint Mary’s logo with the name of your department on it, please feel free to request one to be created for you through Marketing and Communication’s service request form. Please do not use the Saint Mary’s logo on it’s own.

Cover Photo

This must be a quality photo or graphic that represents your Facebook Page.  This may be changed out as frequently as you wish. Pay attention to how photos with text look on your page. Facebook changes the template once in a while, which sometimes may not play well with your design.

Keep Your Page Active

Inactive pages are actually worse than not having a page. A post at least once a week is recommended. If you need help keeping your page active and need ideas of what you can post or if you wish to deactivate your page, contact the Interactive Marketing Director for help.

Seasonal Information

If you know that your page will be inactive for a long time, make sure you post an explanation about it before you let it go. For example, if it is a page that is only active during the school year, have your last post be something like, “Have a great summer. See you next fall!”  This will alert your audience that you are coming back and not just letting your page get neglected.

Administrator Roles

The Interactive Marketing Director needs to be included as an administrator on all Facebook pages that officially represent Saint Mary’s. The Interactive Marketing Director will not take an active role on your page; this is only to facilitate continuity of the account during times of faculty, staff, or student changes.

  • Invite saintmarys@smumn.edu to be an administrator on your page.

  • Pages created and maintained by students that represent official student groups/clubs also need to have at least one faculty or staff administrator.

This checklist will be updated as technologies change and social media platforms evolve. Last updated, January 6, 2015.

Twitter is a great tool to share short messages, links, videos, and photos to a large audience.

Departmental Twitter Accounts

New Accounts

If you wish to start a Departmental Twitter account, Submit a Social Media Service Request and include: 

  • The name you would like to use for your account. There are only 20 characters, including spaces, available so you will probably have to abbreviate. 
  • The @username you would like to use. There are only 15 characters available. You may use the abbreviation SMUMN in your username, but do NOT use SMU.
  • The email address the account will be attached to. You can only have one twitter account per email address and one email address per twitter account. Do NOT use your personal or your Saint Mary’s email to set up a Department twitter account. You will need to use a department/office email address. If your department or office does not have an email, you can request one from IT. This email will allow you to monitor the Twitter notifications the same as you would with your own email account, but this email can be easily shared and/or re-assigned as necessary to cover staff changes and/or absences.
  • Password: It’s a good idea to have more than one person in your department know the password to the department’s Twitter account. This will make it easier to share the responsibilities of keeping the account active, as well as keeping the account usable due to staff changes and/or absences. 
  • Two photos:
    • Profile photo (square): This must be a quality photo or graphic that represents your Twitter account. If you would like to use the Saint Mary’s logo with the name of your department on it, please feel free to request one
    • Cover photo (horizontal rectangle): This must be a quality photo or graphic that represents your Twitter account. This may be changed out as frequently as you wish. Pay attention to how photos look on your profile. Twitter changes the layout once in a while, which sometimes may not work well with your graphic.
  • Review Saint Mary’s branding resources for photo styles.
  • Bio: A maximum of 160 character (including spaces) description of your account. What department is it from? What can people expect by following you? 

Existing Twitter Accounts

  • Your Twitter account needs to follow Saint Mary’s branding identity guidelines to be included on the social media directory. Use the Twitter Checklist to help you make sure your account will meet these guidelines. 
  • Submit a social media service request to get your Twitter account listed on the social media directory. 

Basic Twitter Tips

  • Twitter has a Help Center that explains everything from how to post tweets and customize your profile and background design to showing the difference between the types of tweets and how to set notifications. It even includes a glossary of Twitter terms.
  • Follow other twitter accounts. People are more likely to follow an account that follows other people. This indicates that it is an active account that both listens and engages in conversations instead of just broadcasting announcements. 
  • Review Saint Mary’s Writing Style Guide to follow our branded messaging and language use.
  • When you want to mention another twitter user, use the @ symbol with their username. For example, “Hey, @smumn I love your campus!”  This will notify the admin of @smumn that they have been mentioned. It will also provide a link for others to click on that will give more information about @smumn.
  • When tweeting use the # symbol when you are talking about a specific topic. For example “I can’t wait for the @smumn Celebration of Scholarship on April 12! #smumnscholars.”
  • If you want people to use a specific #hashtag for an event, make it known on your event publicity.
  • If you want the #hashtag to be a tool to keep a specific series of tweets together, make sure to search the hashtag you are planning to use to see if it’s already being used. Sometimes #hashtags are used in a context that we don’t want to have associated with Saint Mary’s.
  • When using a #hashtag to talk about Saint Mary’s, use #smumn… instead of #smu… to avoid confusion with all the other SMUs in the world.
  • Retweet  other people’s tweets once in a while and they will probably retweet yours.
  • Don’t talk about yourself all the time – it’s OK to talk about other things, it creates interest.
  • Most retweetable words: You, Please, retweet, post, blog, social, free, media, new, help, great, follow, how to, check out
  • Least retweetable words: haha, lol, boring, watching, work, home, night, bed, well, sleep, gonna, hey, tomorrow, tired, going, game
  • Be active, exciting, and positive. Don’t be boring, dull and negative.
  • Don’t worry about tweeting too much – the average life-span of a tweet is about 8 minutes before it gets buried in the feed.
  • Space your tweets out throughout the day – experiment with timing.
  • Every character counts – be concise. Short, catchy headlines that incite curiosity are best.
  • Share links - direct people back to your website or your blog.
  • Use a statistics tool such as Hootsuite to keep track of click-throughs on your links.
  • Use a URL shortener – Bit.ly will keep track of click-throughs, Hootsuite has a built-in URL shortener and also keeps track of click-throughs.
  • There are virtually tons of other Twitter tools to use that will help you manage your twitter account.

Social Media Legal Notes

  • Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Saint Mary's University, students, employees, or alumni. Be aware of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations.
  • Respect copyright and fair use: Give credit where credit is due.
  • When using or posting online material that includes direct or paraphrased quotes, thoughts, ideas, photos, or videos, always include citations. Provide a link to the original material if applicable.
  • If you identify yourself as a Saint Mary’s University faculty/staff member on your personal social media sites, it should be clear that the views expressed are not necessarily those of the institution.
  • We retain the right to hide/delete any comment that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing, abusive, slanderous, hateful, or embarrassing to any other person or entity as determined by Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in its sole discretion.

Use this checklist to help you make sure your Twitter account will meet Saint Mary’s social media branding guidelines. All Twitter accounts must meet these guidelines to be included on the social media directory. Review Saint Mary’s branding resources.

Account Settings

  • Twitter username (@handle): Do NOT use SMU in your username. Social media has potential for international coverage and it’s easy to get us confused with all the other “SMUs” in the world. You may use @SMUMNyourdepartment (or Club) Name. If you do not use SMUMN in your username, please make sure to use it in your bio so people know where the tweets are coming from.
  • email: This needs to be a smumn.edu email. It should be your department email address not someone’s personal email address so that it is easily transferrable.

Profile Settings

  • Photo: This must be a quality photo or graphic that represents your Twitter account. If you would like to use the Saint Mary’s logo with the name of your department on it, please feel free to request one to be created for you through Marketing and Communication’s service request form. Please do not use the Saint Mary’s logo on it’s own. 
  • Header: This must be a quality photo or graphic that represents your Twitter account.  This may be changed out as frequently as you wish. Pay attention to how photos look on your profile. Twitter changes the layout once in a while (Not as often as Facebook), which sometimes may not work well with your graphic.
  • Twitter name: You have 20 characters for your name. You may use SMUMN as part of your name.
  • Location:  Enter in your city and state. This helps avoid any confusion for any other Saint Mary’s University’s out there.
  • Website: If your department has a webpage, use that link, otherwise, you may use the main smumn.edu address.
  • Bio: With 160 characters, describe your account. Again, do not use SMU. You may use SMUMN.

Keep Your Account Active

A post at least once a week is recommended. If you need help keeping your account active and need ideas of what you can post or if you wish to deactivate your account, see Twitter Guidelines.

Seasonal information

If you know that your account will be inactive for a long time, make sure you post an explanation about it before you let it go. For example, if it is an account that is only active during the school year, have your last post be something like, “Have a great summer. See you next fall!”  This will alert your audience that you are coming back and not just neglecting your account.

Administrator Roles

The Interactive Marketing Director needs have log-in information on all Twitter accounts that officially represent Saint Mary’s in order to facilitate continuity of the account during times of faculty, staff, or student changes. Please note, the Interactive Director will not take an active role any departmental level Twitter account and will only use this information during times of transition.

  • Send @username and password to saintmarys@smumn.edu to be added to the master list of social media accounts.
  • Twitter accounts created and maintained by students that represent official student groups/clubs need to share the username and password with at least one faculty or staff administrator. 

Passing On or Deleting Your Account

If you decide not to use your Twitter account any longer, pass the username and password on to someone else in your department who will use it. If your department chooses not to have a Twitter, delete the account. Please notify the Interactive Marketing Director in either case.

This checklist will be updated as technologies change and social media platforms evolve. Last updated, January 6, 2015

Contact Us

Lauran Hundshamer, Director of Strategic Marketing 
612-728-5184
lhundsha@smumn.edu

Virginia Copeman, Web Specialist
507-457-6981
vcopeman@smumn.edu