Getting Started

If your office, department, or program wishes to delve into social media, the Office of Communications is here to help. We encourage you to follow the guidelines in this handbook so your efforts comply with Puget Sound’s graphic standards and style guide, ensuring that you are an effective ambassador for the college.

Step 1: Get approval.
First discuss social media with your department head to determine the feasibility of launching your efforts and get the go-ahead to explore the possibilities.

Step 2: Consult with communications.
Next contact the Office of Communications for consultation and assistance in preparing for your social media efforts. Listed below are some of the topics we’ll discuss during our consultation to help you determine which (if any) social medium is right for your needs.

  • Defining your goals and creating a strategy.
    Before you sign up and start posting, spend some time considering what your goals for using social media are. Whom do you want to reach? What type of information do you want to share? How will you determine and measure if your efforts are successful? It can also be helpful to look for similar programs at other universities and see how they are using social media tools.
  • Choosing your tool(s).
    The Office of Communications can help you examine the goals you’ve outlined above and determine if social media is the right fit for your needs. If so, your goals will typically lend themselves well to one or more forms of social media. If it’s not an area that we have experience with, our partners in Technology Services can likely assist in determining if there’s another tool out there that may meet your needs. Here’s a brief list identifying four of the major social media tools and how they might be used. More detailed information about these and other tools can be found in the appendices.

Tool

Demographics

Purpose

Facebook

High percentage of prospective and current students, as well as alumni and parent-aged users

Posting news and personality items approximately 2–3 times per week during academic year (1–2 times per week in summer). Posts show up on fans’ feeds and fans often comment on posts that are of interest to them. Can post photos (beware), videos, links, and more.

Twitter

Skews 30 and older; younger followers have dramatically increased in the last year

Posting 140-character news and personality tweets about Puget Sound as often as needed (the market is friendly to multiple tweets per day). Tweets show up on followers’ feeds. Can include links most easily, but can post photos and other media through related tools.

Flickr

Wide range

One of the more popular of a whole slew of photo-sharing sites. Good for posting photosets of Puget Sound activities for people to see or to link to the website and other social media feeds. Offers more protection in some ways than uploading photos to Facebook.

YouTube

Wide range

Tool for uploading videos. Can also create channels to display your videos and others that you’ve put into playlists or marked as favorites.

Instagram

Skews younger

Posting photos and short videos to share; no status updates or other social tools; includes filters to alter photos before posting.

 

  • Choosing a name.
    The Office of Communications can help you consider a variety of factors when choosing an appropriate name for your department’s social media handle. It goes without saying that no department should choose a name that might lead people to believe it was representing the entire institution, such as “pugetsound.” But other factors may come into play, such as username restrictions in various social media programs, other university social media identities, and consideration of your target audience.
  • Developing an icon.
    The Office of Communications has developed a family of icons that can be used for individual university programs while still maintaining the overall university identity and brand. At no time should the university seal, wordmark, or admission type treatment (found at the top of key Admission pages and on admission printed materials) be used as a social media icon without express permission from the Office of Communications. Development of custom social media icons for various departments is also possible by working with the university’s design director.
  • Finding images/media.
    The Office of Communications often can assist in identifying existing media resources you might need. See the Communications Resources Web page at www.pugetsound.edu/commresources or contact a representative from the Office of Communications for assistance.

After the issues outlined above have been addressed, it is important to revisit the concept of social media with your department head. With a better understanding of the strategy being planned and the time involved in successfully executing it, you can determine who on your team will have responsibility for implementing and maintaining social media efforts. (We recommend that you have more than one person trained so that there is a backup in place.)

Step 3: Build your social media presence.
When establishing your social media account, we encourage you to start slowly. Spend some time posting (maybe a few weeks) without publicly sharing the account, and invite feedback from selected coworkers. This will help you work out any kinks prior to your public launch. (See the pages on various forms of social media for more information.) Having the site up and running well before you officially launch it also establishes a cache of useful and valuable content for your first visitors and ensures that you’re comfortable supporting the account.

Step 4: Launch your site to the public.
When you’re ready to launch your site to the public, you can use a variety of means to advertise your new communications outlet: e-mail, website, print materials, and more. Be sure to notify other departments with social media accounts so you can connect with one another and form a network of Puget Sound social media sites. You can also re-post each other’s content when appropriate to cross-pollinate information through various university social media outlets. For instance we often re-tweet significant sports news from the PSLoggers account on the main university Twitter feed, @univpugetsound.

Be sure to alert the Office of Communications when you announce your account so we can share the news with our fans, followers, and subscribers, and stay abreast of your posts. Other resources you may consider for publicizing your social media efforts include adding sidelets to your university Web page advertising your feeds, adding badges created on the social media sites to your page, and adding notations to any print pieces you do advertising your online presence. These online and print acknowledgements of your social media outlets may include the use of the well-known icons for these media. 

As you work with social media, you’ll see that some things you do are well-received and foster communication from your audience and others fail to do so. Learn from this. You can tweak your use of the tools to make the best possible use of your time and resources. Most social media tools also offer some kind of tracking options, allowing you to see which content is most effective and who is using your feed. For instance, when we started our university Twitter feed, we originally thought perhaps many of our followers would be prospective and current students. While we have some followers in this demographic, many of our followers are local community organizations. We continue to tweet campus news and events via this outlet, which is useful information to our followers.