Social Media Style Guide
These guidelines are meant to increase the maximum efficacy of the University of the Incarnate Word's (UIW) social media accounts and encourage a universal voice and style.
When one is posting content on social media, UIW's Style Guide should be referenced for general UIW writing standards along with this social media style guide.
Account administrators should follow all current copyright and intellectual property laws when posting to any social network representing a department of UIW. Always obtain permission to use copyrighted material prior to posting, and give credit to the material's source.
Photography, Video and Live Video Usage
Under the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), UIW may not disclose any personally identifiable information about students (except directory information) without the written consent of the student. Directory information does not include video, but it does include photographs. Photographs of students engaging in University activities is permissible to share without a signed media release only if faces are indiscernible. A signed media release must be obtained for every visibly identifiable student appearing in any video footage prior to posting on social media. If video recordings are broader in scale and persons in the recording are not visibly identifiable, then a media release form is not needed. This practice applies to all social media platforms, including live video streaming services such as Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Periscope and Snapchat.
If media releases are not attainable, please plan to post visible signage around the premises stating the event is being photographed, videotaped or otherwise recorded. The signage must also state that by entering the event, attendees grant UIW permission to use the photographs and/or audiovisual recordings for archival, documentary, advertising or other purposes. If signage is not available, then you must obtain completed media release forms from any visibly identifiable person in the photo/video.
Spam and Abusive Content
Please do not “spam” your audience's newsfeed with repetitive content. Spamming can be identified as sending mass bulk messaging, spreading malicious links, sharing excessive content in a small timeframe, and posting sensational content with the intention of driving the user to a page to drive up view numbers/likes. Be mindful of social media posts as they go out.
Abusive content posted onto the University’s social accounts is strictly prohibited and frowned upon by both the social network guidelines and University guidelines. Any use of social media that threatens the safety of UIW constituencies, exhibits a lack of moral character, and/or is unlawful or a violation of University policy, may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination or being asked to leave the institution. The University investigates and responds to all reported concerns about social media use or content. Please be aware that you may be held responsible for any personal legal liability imposed for any published content.
Every department’s account social media voice will be different. Some accounts may see it appropriate to use emojis while others will not. If you plan to use emojis, make sure that your use of the emojis are appropriate and congruent with your account’s voice and purpose. If you use an emoji to stylize posts as part of your voice, be consistent.
Exclamation points are permissible to use in social media. This punctuation can make your message softer and friendly towards your audience. If you use exclamation points, please use them correctly and once per sentence. Below is an acceptable and unacceptable use of an exclamation point; e.g.:
Correct: Welcome Back, Cardinals! #UIWPride
Incorrect: Are you excited to be back in the nest, Cardinals?!!!!! #UIWPride
Sometimes, it can be easier to create, plan and schedule social media posts right from your mobile device. Auto correct features and typos are more frequent on mobile devices. Please take an extra moment to review your posts made on mobile devices for accuracy. When in doubt, have your posts reviewed before publishing.
Another thing to consider is the account from which you're posting from. Make sure you're logged in to the correct account when posting. It can be easy to mistakenly post a personal social media post to a UIW social media account or vice versa. Always double check you're logged in and posting to the correct account.
Links and QR Codes
QR Codes are not an effective tool for social media and should not be used. Please use shortened direct links instead. Bit.ly and Ow.ly are effective hyperlink shorteners.
Having evergreen content (content that is not dated) scheduled is an effective way to manage your account to keep your page's content fresh and current. Please remember your content schedule when directly posting major news or updates. In the event of a major tragedy, you don't want to accidentally post something that would seem insensitive or inappropriate.
Avoid using words like “today” or “tomorrow” without a specific date. Your audience may not read your post on the same day.
When posting to social media networks, you are highly encouraged to follow UIW’s Style Guide (PDF) for general writing standards, however, Twitter’s character limit makes it hard to fully comply with the University style. These guidelines are Twitter specific.
You are allowed to substitute the “&” instead of “and” if the character limit in your tweet is an issue.
Contractions are permissible for tweets.
Dates and Times
- Abbreviate months according to AP Style: Jan., Feb., March, April, May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.
- Never add “nd,” “st” or “th” to a date.
- You do not have to use the day of the week with a date.
- You may cut the year from the date if the event is happening in the current calendar year.
- Abbreviate days of the week only if necessary: Mon., Tues., Wed., Thur., Fri., Sat., Sun.
- If an event is occurring within the next week, you may use just the day of the week without the date.
- You may leave the periods out of am/pm: 7 am, 8 pm
Please use approved UIW hashtags. Using the correct hashtags will maximize the reach and effectiveness of your tweet. The official UIW hashtag is #UIWPride. This hashtag is used in reference to students, alumni and events and is placed at the end of the tweet. Please note that “UIW” and “P” are capitalized in the hashtag always. Use #UIW prior to a name or title in direct reference to the University. Note that “UIW” is capitalized in the hashtag always.
When creating a hashtag for an event, be sure that it contains a connection to the University.
Before using a trending hashtag, make sure you understand how the hashtag is being used and if tweets using that hashtag are appropriate for your audience.
Try to use hashtags in an organic way whenever possible, but it is OK to tag them at the end of your tweet if you need to reach a certain audience.
Please use shortened direct links instead. Bit.ly and Ow.ly are effective hyperlink shorteners.
If you're talking about a location, organization or user, make sure you mention them with the “@” symbol whenever possible to tag them.
You can start a tweet with @username and your followers will see it, but replies are still semi-private.
Be familiar with how @replies work. Learn more here. It is not necessary to put a period at the beginning of every @reply.
- You're encouraged to retweet content from other official UIW accounts to share University news and events.
- Be careful what you retweet. A retweet, especially from a University account, is seen as an endorsement.
- Before retweeting, take a look at the user's handle. If the handle is suggestive or otherwise inappropriate, do not retweet.
There are no character limits on Instagram, but brevity is encouraged. Follow UIW's Style Guide for general writing standards. Please be mindful of the content posted.
Like Twitter, stick to approved hashtags and have a proper understanding of what trending hashtags are being used for before posting.
If you see a photo you would like to share, contact the person who posted the photo and ask them for permission to use the photo. Always credit the original user. A great app for reposting content after you have permission is the Repost app.
All UIW's Style Guide (PDF) rules apply for general writing standards when posting on Facebook. There is no character limit, but you're encouraged to keep posts short. Keep in mind that not everyone will see your posts in a timely manner.
Facebook allows users to preview hyperlinked posts prior to publishing. Copy and paste the hyperlink of the page you wish to share into your Facebook post, wait for the link preview to generate and then delete the hyperlink. This will keep the post's appearance concise and won't detract from the copy in your post.