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Social Media Overview
Brand execution guidelines

Getting started with social

Getting started on social media, or setting up a new account? Here are some things to think through, including a list of do’s and don’ts.

Social media, in general, is media that encourages two-way and multiple-member conversations, as opposed to traditional one-way media. This has given rise to a multitude of business use cases for social listed, some of which are listed below.

Why we need best practices for social media

“It’s just a post, right?” — at different points of our careers, we have all heard this sentiment. While social media does have a lower entry barrier than, let’s say, TV or radio, a lot of people misjudge the need for guidelines in social media.

In order to convey our information in a consistent and professional manner, no matter the format or the avenue, we have compiled a list of best practices for you to use.



  • Create guidelines that ensure consistency and save time in the long run.
  • Create community guidelines for your accounts. This allows users to know what to expect during their experience. It also allows you to set the tone, just in case you have to deal with those annoying social media trolls.
  • Showcase your brand’s personality. In social media, the brands that perform best are the ones that show some personality (Wendy’s and Merriam-Webster are examples). But like anything else, it must be genuine and authentic. Remember to adhere to our brand guidelines regarding voice and tone, as well as visual identity when it comes to photography, design, video, etc. 
  • Double-check everything before you post! Ask yourself if you are professionally and accurately reflecting the ASU brand and the university’s reputation for excellence. Have you done your own spell-checking and proofread your content thoroughly?
  • “Feel” your audience, “be” your audience. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how your audience will use and benefit from your posting. If your audience identifies with the content, the more likely it is that they will share with their networks.
  • Be fast, but also smart. Keep an eye out for what is trending on social, and if it makes sense for your brand, join the conversation (e.g., #EarthDay is a great opportunity for the School of Sustainability to flex its social messaging; Thomas Edison’s birthday is a chance for the Fulton Schools to highlight its research in electrical fields).
  • Be social. You should respond quickly to social critics, but you should also take the time to share the love with those who are supporting your message. You’ll impact affinity for your unit and your messaging by promptly addressing valid criticism and complaints, while also acknowledging those who are willing to share your content with others.
  • Report, report, report. It can be as simple or as extensive as you want, but make sure to report social media metrics so your stakeholders can see the impact. Just as important, the closer you monitor and analyze social media results, the better your understanding will be of what works and what doesn’t.


  • Do not censor, and especially do not delete valid criticism from your accounts. Listening to these comments will allow you to more effectively reach out to your audience.
  • Do not feed the trolls. Remember that you are the moderator for your community. If someone is using their commenting powers to harass, insult or spam your audience, you have the right to hide or delete the offending posts. But beware: As a public institution, we have a responsibility to uphold civil liberties (such as freedom of speech), regardless of the basis of the viewpoints being expressed. The courts are still deciding how these cases should be managed and what protections/responsibilities government accounts should adhere to, but as a good rule of thumb, DO NOT block users, delete specific comments, or restrict access in other ways on the basis of the viewpoints being expressed. For more recommendations, we recommend visiting this guide from the ACLU.
  • Do not be snarky or edgy; it doesn’t make you more engaging or relatable. Also, “snarky” and “edgy” don’t fit the ASU brand.
  • Do not forget to double-check your posts. It’s always a good idea to make sure that you are posting from the correct account — accidentally sharing something inappropriate from a brand account is always avoidable.
  • Do not stop listening. Social media is about being social, and a key component is listening to what your audiences are saying. Are people complaining about their experience with your department, school or Wi-Fi? Reach out to them and try to turn that bad experience into a positive. And if they are simply trolling you, see the advice above regarding trolls.
  • Do not jump into a trending topic just because it is trending. Do your research first, to make sure that the topic can be associated with your brand.
  • Do not try to be everywhere. Be strategic about what platforms you use. Make sure that you will have enough content and resources to continue feeding this new avenue for the foreseeable future, and that it makes sense for your overall marketing mix. Snapchat may be popular, but if your audience is not there, there is no reason for you to open an account on that platform.
  • Do not ignore your audience, nor your responsibility to them. Make sure that you always interact in the most effective way possible, and make certain that users’ personal information is always secure and protected and that you are not sharing information in violation of FERPA laws.

Creating a social media strategy

In order to succeed, you need to have a clear social media strategy. Your social media strategy should be specific. You should include what your goals and objectives are for your social media presence and designate your key performance indicators: They will be your map to social media success.

Parts of your strategy should include:

Business roles

What business objectives would a social media presence help you meet? What user needs would you deliver on?

If you can’t map out exactly what your goals are, and how you plan to measure them, your activities won’t deliver results.

Also, if your goal is to create a one-way communication (such as promoting an event or news story without receiving audience feedback), you should consider other methods of engagement.

It is important to remember that social media is constantly evolving, and while the methods below are some examples of the way we currently use social media, it is not an exhaustive list: 


General business roles of social media 
  • Public relations, crisis communications.
  • Business communications.
  • Reputation building, management.
  • Paid advertising.
  • Branding, affinity building.
  • Customer service.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
  • Community engagement.
  • Marketing.
ASU-specific business roles of social media
  • Fundraising.
  • Recruitment and enrollment.
  • Event promotion.
  • Promoting research.
  • University business.
  • Student services and support.


Who are you trying to reach?

Defining your target audience is another important step when deciding whether or not you need a social media presence, and how to execute your strategy. Do you know where your audience “lives” online? Do you know how to "speak" to them? If your main audience will be students, the way that you communicate with them will be different than if you were to communicate with alumni, staff, or both, for example.

Audience guidelines per platform 

While the type of content will vary depending on who you are trying to reach, these guidelines can serve as a good starting point in determining which platforms are best for different types of content.



Are there established channels, both traditional media and social media, that you can use?

ASU has many established channels to share information with students, faculty and staff. Don’t forget to explore what’s already in place, and see if other established channels would make more sense for your communication needs.

Furthermore, feel free to reach out to other established accounts to help amplify your message to their audience as well.

Learn more about other ASU communications channels for announcement and events promotion.

Representatives from various units collaborate on an editorial calendar for the “ads” on These typically are major events or resources across the university.

Announcements are typically smaller news items or activities where more specific details are needed.

Find additional information for posting either an announcement or an ad on My ASU. 

Monitoring and listening

Be ready to listen. Effective use of social media involves not only a proactive strategy, but a reactive part as well. How will you handle complaints? Angry people? Happy people? Learn more about social monitoring, listening and customer service.

Sustainability of the accounts

What does it take to maintain these efforts? Is your plan sustainable? For example, if you plan to post at least once a day, can you do that every day, every week? Set your community’s expectations at a level you know you can maintain. If you leave, or happen to be on vacation, do you have a plan of succession laid out? This should all be part of your social media strategy.


Tally what resources and tools you’ll need to accomplish your goals. Where will your content come from? What kinds of resources will it take to create, edit, approve, post and respond on a regular basis? If it's original content, do you have the means to pay for its production? If it’s aggregated, by what metrics will you decide what’s appropriate?


Are you the best person to manage your department’s social media accounts? Time to be honest with yourself. Do you enjoy social media? Are you willing to be responsive during “off-hours?” Do you personally use social media? Knowing who in your organization is best suited to manage your department’s “voice” will directly inform its success.


Analyzing your results. Having a strategy is integral to the success of your social media efforts, but it is not enough. You should also constantly measure how your content and strategy are performing. Without a constant performance analysis, there is no way for you to know if your efforts are actually working in the way you intended. 

Account or campaign promotion

If you’ve decided to launch your own social media campaign and account, you’ll want to get the word out. Consider asking relevant cohorts to announce your efforts and “follow” you (or whatever the appropriate call to action is). You can also consider paid acquisition and promotional campaigns to bolster your efforts.

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