Northeastern Illinois University engages in social media for a variety of reasons: to engage, inform and promote the institution to a variety of audiences. The University does this through five primary accounts:
These accounts are maintained by Northeastern’s Division of Marketing and Communications. Northeastern also has additional accounts that are operated by individual units.
The use of social media is a critical component of any university’s strategy for marketing and engagement with internal and external communities, and as such should be treated with care and professionalism.
The social media best practices and procedures detailed on this page complement the University Brand Policy and NEIU’s general identity guidelines. These guidelines are the primary point of reference for Northeastern’s Division of Marketing and Communications, and are designed to help Northeastern employees, student organizations, volunteers, affiliates and consultants (e.g., creative agencies) make appropriate decisions when managing and/or developing new social media channels on behalf of the University.
These guidelines lay out the guiding principles for the Division of Marketing and Communications and establish the expectations and resources for other members of the University community who operate social media accounts on behalf of Northeastern offices and departments. These guidelines are designed to map out general considerations, but do not provide specific guidance on planning, content, measurement or other topics related to the successful execution of a long-term social media strategy.
Goals of Social Media
The most successful social media channels have a clear and concise messaging strategy, update their content frequently and know their target audience very well. Here are some general tips to follow to help build a successful social media following:
- Build a community: Promote Northeastern’s reputation, increase awareness, and support the University’s mission, vision and values, academic programs and strategic initiatives. Recognize Northeastern’s reputation as one of the nation’s most diverse institutions of higher education. Reinforce the importance of diversity and inclusion. Support institutional and departmental objectives.
- Connect with your target audience: Decide which social media channels align with your goals the best, and which messages will resonate with your audience the most. Not all groups are on Facebook, or on Instagram. The Division of Marketing and Communications can assist with this consideration.
- Create conversation: Be approachable, yet professional. Build community among NEIU students, faculty, staff, alumni and official partner organizations
- Reinforce important messages: University accounts should support enrollment, retention, recruitment and/or alumni relations in deliberate collaboration with the units that oversee these initiatives. They should share content from, and link to, other official NEIU social media accounts. If you have content that you believe others should share, post to the NEIU Social Mediators or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creating a social media account
Are you interested in creating a social media account for your unit? Sometimes it’s a good idea; sometimes it is not. Remember, it is better to not have an account than to keep an account that is neglected. Nothing turns off a user faster than seeing an account that hasn’t posted in nine months. Here are three questions you should consider before establishing an account:
- Time and content: Successful social media accounts are active and engaging with their audiences. Does your area have the bandwidth to maintain this level of interaction? If not, consider instead working with higher-level accounts to engage. For example, an academic department may not have the time or amount of content to engage an audience, but can work with the college’s account to make posts.
- Target audience: Do you have a unique audience that will engage over the long run? If not, consider working with a higher-level account.
- Support: Unit heads (chairs or directors) should identify at least two full-time employees to serve as administrators of any individual account. The unit head may designate himself or herself as one of the two account administrators. This ensures continuity when individuals come and go from specific units.
Maintaining a successful account
Once you have established an account, notify the Office of Public Relations at email@example.com. Here are some additional tips:
Before posting any content, ask yourself these five critical questions:
- Is this post factually accurate?
- Does this post use proper spelling and grammar?
- Is this post culturally sensitive and reflective of Northeastern Illinois University as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and Minority-Serving Institution?
- Is the timing of this post relevant and appropriate, or is it too late to post or more appropriate to be posted at a later time?
- Has this post gone through your unit’s approval process?
Tips for success
Here are some key tips that expand upon the critical questions posed above.
- Establish an approval process: All accounts should create an internal mechanism that protects against posting false, misleading or embarrassing text or images that could do harm to the institution’s reputation. Examples include establishing an email process in which unit directors review and approve all posts before they are made, or even the use of approval software built specifically for this purpose.
- Engage your audience: Social media is meant for two-way communication. Accounts should welcome new audience members and respond to comments quickly. Engaging with your audience will make your site more valuable and help ensure they return to your page. Ignoring your account could turn off your audience, and potentially be harmful to your unit. User comments are official records and should be deleted infrequently. Posts that are abusive or threaten harm should be deleted when possible.
- Be confidential: Be careful not to reveal confidential or proprietary information about NEIU students, faculty or staff. All employees of NEIU are subject to FERPA, HIPAA, and other laws mandating the nondisclosure of personal information. Always ask permission before posting a photo, and remove the photo when asked. Northeastern employees must also adhere to NEIU’s privacy and confidentiality policies.
- Protect property: Follow copyright, fair use and intellectual property rights. In some cases, content posted to a social media site becomes the property of the platform operator.
- Protect Northeastern's name and logo: Use the official Northeastern logo for all official social media accounts. The NEIU logo should not be modified or used for personal endorsements, and the Northeastern name cannot be used to promote a product, business, cause, political party or candidate. Never use the presidential seal, which is reserved for special uses. Please visit the University Brand Policy for additional questions.
- Respect Northeastern: Remain professional and protect NEIU’s institutional voice. As a representative of the University, avoid content and postings that could be misinterpreted by our students, faculty and staff.
- Respect others: Social media sites are designed for two-way communication, and content contributed to a social media site may encourage comments or discussion of opposing ideas. As an administrator, you can and should respond when relevant, but consider how your response may reflect on you, your department and the University. If you are unsure about posting something or responding to a comment, ask your supervisor. Also, avoid criticizing other people and institutions. Doing so may alienate you from your audience, reflect poorly on NEIU or escalate into a conflict.
- Stay accurate: Get the facts straight before posting them on social media sites, and try to link back to the original source. When possible, link to an NEIU news source instead of an outside source. Review content for grammatical and spelling mistakes. If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly. This will earn you respect in the online community.
- Connect thoughtfully: Connecting to other social media members and sites builds credibility and community, but could also give the unintended impression that your site endorses a certain cause, group or person. Consider carefully who you “friend,” “follow,” link to, or allow into your site and to what extent you will allow comments.
- Maintain your accounts: Failure to properly maintain social media profiles will be cause for removal by Northeastern Illinois University. If you no longer want to operate your site, please disable or delete it.
- Consider your tone: Bring the NEIU personality to posts while keeping in mind that the account represents the entire University.
- Adhere to official University brand standards: If you have a question about a post or a project, check with the Division of Marketing and Communications before posting.
- Consider multimedia: When choosing imagery (photos, video clips, infographics, etc.), also try to underscore the importance of difference, diversity and inclusion in the media you are selecting.
- Use the proper specifications: When creating multimedia, consider the size specifications and recommended file type(s) for each social media network. Following these details and utilizing the correct specs will properly optimize your content for posting.
- Build a content calendar: Be sure to update your content frequently, but also remain open to spontaneity. Watch for relevant news and current affairs that can mix in with your planned schedule of posts.
- Incorporate monitoring tools/analytics: Study performance results and use this data for future planning. For example, if Facebook shows your audience is most engaged in the evening, schedule posts for that time.
- Ensure posts are accurate and grammatically correct: This is best done by ensuring at least two people—including a unit’s director or chair—view a post before it is published. If a mistake is made, immediately delete or edit the post.
- Maintain authenticity: Be sure to reflect the identity of the University.
- Remain ethical: Adhere to state and University ethical guidelines. For example, accounts may not make political statements or endorse political candidates.
- Preserve communication: Accounts should save two-way communications in compliance with state records requirements.
Deleting a social media account
Sometimes accounts can no longer be maintained or are no longer relevant. In these cases, take the steps to delete accounts. Northeastern may request removal of accounts that are clearly deserted or not following best practices and procedures. It is important to note that the state requires Northeastern to preserve any communications (one-way or two-way) posted in the past three years, so departments are required to preserve these posts before deleting an account.
Social media questions
Do you have questions about social media? If you need assistance, you have two starting points:
- For general questions related to social media, please contact the Division of Marketing and Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To collaborate with other NEIU colleagues working on social media, consider joining the NEIU Social Mediators working group.