Purpose of NMU's Social Media Guidelines
The purpose of these guidelines are to help create a cohesive presence across social media so that all accounts affiliated with Northern Michigan University reflect the visual identity, branding and goals of the university. Though each account can and is encouraged to showcase individuality, it is important to ensure all accounts associated with the university are well executed.
These guidelines are applicable to anyone who contributes to an NMU affiliated social media account as part of their job or involvement at the university. Please continue to use these guidelines as a reference, as they are subject to change and evolve.
UMC reserves the right to deny creation of programmatic or departmental social media accounts under the following circumstances:
- There is no designated individual within the program or department to complete consistent social media tasks.
- No plan exists to supply another individual if the first individual leaves the institution or takes an extended leave of absence.
- Goals for the social media channels are not clearly defined and/or are not inline with overall University goals and branding. Brand guidelines can be found here.
- A monthly content plan is not clearly established.
UMC will conduct regular social media audits on NMU related accounts. If it is found that these guidelines are not being followed, a UMC representative will set up a meeting with the designated individual in charge of said account.
Defining Social Media Goals
Before creating a social media account, it is important to understand NMU’s overarching social media goals. Ultimately, these goals should be utilized to drive a University-wide strategy across all social media platforms affiliated with NMU.
- To create and share content that is designed to encourage prospective students to visit our website and/or contact an admissions representative.
- To create and share content that is designed to grow relationships with incoming students and increase their positive thoughts about NMU as an institution.
- To maintain relationships with all other community groups, including but not limited to: current students, former students, alumni, community members and university faculty and staff.
- To quickly and appropriately respond to all comments, questions and concerns from our community within our abilities.
These goals are applicable for department/organization accounts. However, it is encouraged for departments/organizations to decide on specific goals, in addition to the ones above, to help guide them more pointedly when connecting with their audience. A consultation with the University Marketing and Communications team is strongly encouraged for development of a successful social media plan and strategy. Request a consultation.
Account-Specific Best Practices
- Goal: Share general content that pertains to a wide array of audiences and engages them in meaningful and positive conversations about NMU.
- Audience: 13-90 year olds
- Frequency of posts: 3-5 times a week
- Strong content: Content on Facebook that is more visual typically performs better, whether that’s photos, videos or graphics. Keep text as short as possible and use calls-to-action frequently, whether that is linking to the NMU website for more information, an event on Facebook, the NMU calendar, or to another social media platform.
- Monitoring content: This can be done in-platform. Access to direct messages, notifications and insights can be found here. Direct messages and notifications should be checked once daily, at minimum.
- Analyzing performance: Insights should be monitored on a set schedule (recommended to do monthly) and used to improve your overall content strategy.
- Goal: Create a fun and engaging environment that is relatable to current and prospective students.
- Audience: 18-29 year olds
- Frequency of posts: 5+ times a week
- Strong content: Content on Twitter is typically more conversational than other platforms. It’s perfect for interacting with your target audience and encouraging casual conversation. Photos and graphics also perform well. This is also a great space for news links, research updates, and employee or student recognitions
- Monitoring content: This can be done in-platform. Access to notifications, messages and insights can be found here. Notifications and messages should be checked once daily, at a minimum.
- Analyzing performance: Insights should be monitored on a set schedule (recommended to do monthly) and used to improve overall content strategy.
- Goal: Showcase the department/organization in a visually compelling way that shares the student experience in and beyond the classroom.
- Audience: 16-35 year olds
- Frequency of posts: 3-5 times a week
- Strong content: Unique, interesting, high-quality photos perform best on Instagram. Pictures and captions must be engaging – do not include links or calls-to-action in your captions.
- Monitoring content: This can be done in-platform. Access to direct messages (also known as Inbox), likes and tagged photos can be found here. All three of these areas should be checked once daily, at minimum.
- Analyzing performance: Analytics can only be gathered through Instagram if the account is set up as a business account. If it is, insights should be monitored on a set schedule (recommended to do monthly) and used to improve overall content strategy.
Getting Started with Social Media
It is most effective to have fewer, well-executed accounts than it is to be have several accounts that are inadequately used. Not having a social media presence is less detrimental than having a social media presence that is not kept up with.
When considering creating an account, first answer the following questions:
- What is the purpose of this account?
- Who is our target audience (demographic)?
- What is relevant content for our audience?
- Do we have content to sustain a long-term presence via social media? "Long-term presence" is defined here as posting 2-3 times per week.
- Do we have someone able to commit a portion of their time to maintaining our social media presence?
From these questions, decide:
- What platform offers the best solution for reaching and connecting with your target audience
- Facebook- to reach parents, older alumni, and the community
- Instagram- to reach younger alumni, current and prospective students, younger community members
- TikTok- to reach current and prospective students (we highly recommend departments and organizations do not create accounts in this space)
- If your online presence will compliment the overarching social media goals of the university, listed in the box above.
Next, determine a specific point of contact for the account. Though students may help run the account, it is always important to have one full-time staff member overseeing the account. This allows continuity within the voice of the account as students graduate and also helps ensure monitoring of the account happens daily. As part of the onboarding process, students assisting with social media accounts should reach out to the UMC Social Media Coordinator.
To be included on NMU’s social directory, there must be a point of contact that is a full-time faculty or staff member.
Before creating the account, meet with any key stakeholders to ensure all necessary information is provided to completely fill out the accounts social media profile. Please do not create incomplete account profiles.
- Profiles should include:
- Profile Picture: department logo or NMU logo. Avoid using a photo.
- Name of profile
- Type of profile
- Brief bio explanation of the department or organization
When naming the account, include “Northern Michigan University” or “NMU” in the beginning of the name to avoid confusion. Please do not use acronyms or uncommon department titles.
Lastly, if the department is creating a Facebook account, please ensure the account is connected to NMU’s official Facebook account (@NorthernMichiganU) through Facebook Business Manager. This will allow University Marketing and Communications department to access the account, if needed. If you are unsure how to connect accounts, please contact the University Marketing and Communications department. This step is important. If you are locked out of the account or someone leaves the institution UMC will be able to help transfer access so you don't lose your ability to use the account.
Day-to-Day Social Media Activities
Social media is the perfect space for honest and fun conversations about a department – encourage that in the account. However, that does not mean being grammatically incorrect or too casual.
Further engage the target audience with relevant photos, graphics and captions (see optimal image sizes below). Also, consider incorporating emojis into your posts, when appropriate. Emojis can be a fun way to engage and relate to target audiences. It is recommended to use no more than 3 emojis in a single post and that emojis are placed at the end of a sentence rather than in the middle for accessibility purposes. More accessibility resources here.
Please keep all posts relevant to the department – that can include relative industry or academic links, student stories/successes, deadlines and events, relevant job postings, announcements, etc. Sharing general NMU content from the official university page or news bureau is also appropriate.
Do not post content that relates to cliff jumping, swimming in drowning areas, railroads, utilizing technology while operating a vehicle, or the use of hammocks. Please also ensure content does not showcase inappropriate body language, including poses, hand gestures or facial expressions.
For easy graphics creation, please reach out to UMC's Social Media Coordinator.
Optimal image sizes, width by height:
- Cover photo: 851 x 315px
- Cover video: 1200 x 675px
- Profile photo: 170 x 170px
- Timeline image/graphic: 1200 x 630px
- Timeline video: 504 x 283px
- Stories photo/graphic: 1080 x 1920px
- Event photo: 1920 x 1080px
- Cover photo: 1500 x 500px
- Profile photo:400 x 400px
- Post image/graphic: 1024 x 512px
- Profile photo: 160 x 160px
- Post image/graphic: 1080 x 1080px (square), 1080 x 1350px (portrait), 1080 x 566px (landscape)
- Stories photo/graphic: 1080 x 1920px
What to avoid when posting:
- Do not add QR codes to digital graphics
- Do not post graphic posters or flyers that are not correctly formatted for the dimensions of specific platform
- Do not only post graphic content, include other visuals such as photos or video.
- Posts that include graphics with a lot of text. Posting a photo with a lot of text makes specifics difficult to read. Instead, include a photo of the event and put the specifics (what, when, why, and who) in the caption and then share a link to the events list and registration (unless it is for Instagram and then the link should be added to the bio at the top of the page).
Successfully maintaining a social media presence involves consistently monitoring the account. The monitoring process allows for interaction with followers and the curating of relationships that will make the account an engaging place.
It is important to set aside time each day to go through the account thoroughly. Monitoring content varies by platform, but please prioritize the following activities daily:
- Check direct messages: Try to respond (if appropriate) within one business day.
- Check wall posts: Try to respond (if appropriate) within one business day.
- Check notifications: Take note of post shares, check-ins or other types of interactions people have had with the account. Monitoring post performance and page engagement is a good way to drive your content strategy on the platform.
Monitoring content also includes dealing with negative comments or issues that may come up. It is important to respond quickly and politely, if it is necessary to respond at all. Avoid replying with negative or antagonistic comments. Do not encourage unproductive comments.
It is important to allow followers to voice their own opinions and thoughts, however, feel free to delete comments that are offensive, spam, political or selling. If you would like to approve posts before they are published to your Facebook wall, go into settings under 'Visitor Posts' and click 'Review posts by other people before they are published to the Page'.
Please contact the University Marketing and Communications department in the event there is a question or comment that cannot be addressed directly, or if you would like guidance on how to handle something you are unsure of.
The university suggests using the hashtag #shareNMU for all posts about NMU. This helps provide a well-rounded view of the university for prospective students, a place for current students to engage and a way for alumni, community members, and faculty/staff to be informed on the current happenings at NMU.
Other official university hashtags, appropriate for everyday use, include:
Recognized hashtags for recurring events include:
The creation of new hashtags for a department or event is generally discouraged because it is not where the majority of NMU students are sharing their content. Before creating a hashtag, you must get approval from University Marketing and Communications.
Official NMU social media accounts
Moderators of official university accounts:
- Will attempt to respond to all reasonable questions within 24 hours with an answer or with information on who to contact.
- Reserve the right to delete any comments that are highly offensive or nonsensical (SPAM). All comments and posts selling things, political in nature or unrelated to the university or university events will also be deleted. The university also reserves the right to hide comments at the moderator’s discretion.
- Will do their best to tag other university accounts in posts, as appropriate. They will not tag other departments if the pages do not have engaging, interesting content, following guidelines above.
- Reserve the right to delete any post form a university account that has grammatical or factual errors. This is to ensure that the channels remain a positive and accurate representation of the university.
- May comment, in the event of an emergency or to clarify confusion, on other pages from the university’s account.
The university reserves the right to screenshot any content sent directly to the official NMU account, and if it is against student code, report it to the appropriate authorities. The university will not look at student stories of accounts that have added the official NMU account.
Aggregation sites and event feeds:
The university may delete or not include any social post that would show up on a university website through the aggregation service for any reason.
NMU social directory:
The university reserves the right to remove a department or student organization social account from the directory if it does not follow the above guidelines.
Resources for NMU-Affiliated Social Media Admins
Request access to join our NMU Social Media Admins Facebook Group. This private group can be used as a resource to stay connected with NMU's University Marketing and Communications team, share ideas with other social media admins across campus, ask questions, get resuable branded social media content, and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and topics.
Request access here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nmusocialadmins/
Social media is constantly changing. University Marketing and Communications has a full-time social media manager on staff to oversee Northern's official accounts and assist university departments or groups with their own social presence. View our NMU social media overview page, the university's comprehensive social media directory, or reach out to learn more.