In addition to the overall university feeds, programs, departments and other organizations at USM may wish to create social media accounts, which if done effectively, can be a great way to connect with your specific audience.
However, if done incorrectly, social media can potentially harm the reputation of your program/office/department as well as the university. As noted in the USM Social Media Compliance Policy, all accounts must be pre-approved through the Office of Public Affairs, who provide governance, oversight and advice to all department social media managers.
Public Affairs has created this page with resources to help you manage an official social media account on behalf of your office, school, college or organization. For further questions, whether determining strategy, setting up a new page, branding and so on, please contact the Office of Public Affairs.
Social Media Essentials for USM Communicators
The Office of Public Affairs can provide social media guidance to departments/programs by appointment. Below is a presentation on social media produced by the office to help guide individuals in establishing social media profiles. To set up an appointment with the Office of Public Affairs regarding social media, contact the Office of Public Affairs.
The University of Southern Maine (USM) Social Compliance Media Policy is your guide to successfully running a social media account at the University of Southern Maine.
All University of Southern Maine (USM) employees designated as social media communicators must read the Social Media Compliance Policy in full. The Social Media Compliance Policy discusses the following:
- USM Social Media Presence
- USM Social Media Account Administration
- USM Brand and Voice
- Policy for Followers (or Fans) of USM Social Media
- Guiding Principles for USM Faculty and Staff
- Policies for Promotions, Endorsements and Solicitations
While it is required that all USM employees read the policy prior to creating an account, key takeaways of the policy are listed below:
- All officially-branded university social media accounts must be approved by the Office of Public Affairs, and all potential administrators must meet with the Office of Public Affairs prior to creating an account.
- The university’s social media manager and director of communications must be added as administrators on all approved social media pages.
- All accounts must adhere to the university’s social media brand standards (Section IV).
- All administrators are representing the university and its president, the University of Maine System and the chancellor of the system at all times,
- Privacy concerns are of the utmost importance and all policies regarding privacy must be followed at all times.
The policy was revised and adopted as of June 25, 2019. USM's Office of Public Affairs continuously reviews strategies and best practices for using social media. Since social media is evolving rapidly, the USM Social Media Compliance Policy is a document that will evolve over time and is subject to change.
If you wish to establish a USM-affiliated social media account, first ask yourself these questions:
- What will I post? Effective social media relies on stories and ideas that are unique, engaging and visual.
- What and who is my audience? Who you intend to engage with your content ultimately determines whether or not a social media account is right for you. Social media is public; if you intend to communicate with an internal audience, consider an alternative mode of communication.
- How comfortable am I engaging with the public? Social media is a form of two-way communication. Administrators/editors must be comfortable answering questions and responding to comments in a public forum. You must also be prepared to manage negative comments or deal with a crisis, should one arise.
- Do I have the time to do this well? Social media management is time-consuming work. The Office of Public Affairs monitors the university’s accounts several times each hour, and sometimes outside normal work hours. Social (and all digital) media are rapidly evolving and must be updated frequently — this goes beyond just posting to the account; it includes responding to comments, answering questions and contacting with communicators across the university.
Setting up an approved USM social media account
All university-affiliated social media accounts must be approved by the Office of Public Affairs. Requests for university social media accounts must be submitted in writing to the Office of Public Affairs prior to account creation, via the Social Media Account Request Form.
The Office of Public Affairs reserves the right to deny a request for a new social media account if it is determined another strategy would be more effective, or if a similar account exists which may be utilized.
Once you receive a response from the Office of Public Affairs, you must meet with the university’s social media administrator to discuss social media goals and strategy. All social media accounts acting on behalf of USM must include the university’s social media manager and director of communications as administrators on their page. This is in place in case of emergencies, for when the regular page administrator needs assistance or to serve as a bridge during times of page administrator transition.
Adding an Administrator
To add an administrator to your Facebook page, follow these steps:*
- At the top of your page, navigate to "Settings."
- On the left, select "Page Roles."
- Find "Assign a New Page Role" and type in the social media administrator's name.
- Once found, select the their profile and change the desired role to "Admin."
- Hit "Add," and wait for the social media administrator to accept the admin request.
You will have completed this task.
*Please note: These same instructions apply for adding additional administrators to your page, faculty, staff and approved graduate assistants (students other than approved graduate assistants are not permitted to be admins for official USM social media pages). Current administrators must be Facebook friends with all desired administrators prior to beginning Step 1.
For more information, please view the Social Media Policy and the most recent social media presentation from the Office of Public Affairs. If you are a social media account administrator, please fill out this form to be added to our database.
Create a @username
It is not required, but we strongly recommend all page administrators create a recognizable @username for their pages. A @username is a unique username created to make tagging the page easier.
For example, the University of Southern Maine's @username across all platforms is @USouthernMaine. See USM's example at left. (@usernames make tagging pages easier on Facebook, as seen in the Social Media Basics section below).
To add a @username:
- Go to your page's "About" section
- Scroll to "General" and find "Username"
- Hit "Edit" and type a unique @username 50 characters or less
- Hit "Create Username" to save
If your page represents an official USM office, school, college or program, your page must follow USM brand standards.
The official university logo is a yellow column positioned inside a blue square. It is for use on official, university-sanctioned pages established and managed by the Office of Public Affairs. Individual departments, programs or organizations are not permitted to use the official logo on their social media pages.
All department, program or organization Facebook and Twitter pages affiliated with the university should be properly branded using the avatar below. It is a reverse-color image of the university's official logo for social media purposes only. If you have questions about social media branding, please contact the Office of Public Affairs.
Select the image or download here.
When uploading your profile image, be sure the logo's column is centered and resize it accordingly so that it fits neatly within the confines of the circle preview, as displayed below.
Cover images for Facebook and Twitter should be a crisp, clear single image that represents the office/department and the university well, with no USM logo overlay.
Naming Your Page:
For all department/school/program/office etc. names used on social media, we are branding them using the following format: “Department/Program/Organization at the University of Southern Maine.” The USM acronym is used by other schools and organizations (such as the University of Southern Mississippi) so always spell out the university's name when used in your page name.
- School of Music at the University of Southern Maine
- Veterans Services at the University of Southern Maine
- The Learning Commons at the University of Southern Maine
Changing your page name is similar to creating an @username (above).
To change the name of your page:
- On the left navigation bar of your page, select "About"
- Scroll to "General" find "Name"
- Hit "Edit" and enter your new page name (75 or fewer characters) and hit "Continue"
- Follow the directions to save
- You will have completed the task
For more information on branding, please view the Social Media Policy.
Social Media Accounts
What is social media?
Social media refers to online tools and services that allow users to create, publish and share content, and to engage with other users.
The scope of social media goes beyond the most-used platforms, such as Facebook, but extend into many online modes of communication. Examples of social media include, but are not limited to social networking sites; video and photo sharing sites; blogging sites; forums and discussion boards (including comment sections and online encyclopedias); mobile phone applications; and websites, apps or platforms with similar functions.
Below is a brief description of the many social media platforms the University of Southern Maine uses to communicate with its audience.
Facebook is the largest social networking site in the world with over 1.2 billion members. The site is useful for communication with people who already have a connection to USM, such as prospective students and their families, but also existing students, alumni, faculty and staff, as well as the public at large. Best practices for Facebook include posting at least three times per week, and ideally once per day at a minimum.
Twitter, birthplace of the hashtag, has over 321 million registered monthly users. This platform allows users to send short messages (up to 280 characters), called tweets, out to their followers. This format, called microblogging, is very useful for sharing news, photos or other quick updates. Twitter should be updated at least once daily.
Instagram has 500 million active daily users, and more than 1 billion users make use of the platform each month. The program allows users to create a personalized, mobile photo/video album, connect with friends and engage with brands they know and love. It also allows for users to explore brands and users through hashtags. Post on Instagram at least twice a week.
Instagram is one of the university's fastest-growing social media platforms. Between August 2017 and January 2019, USM's following on Instagram grew an incredible 89 percent. The platform is a simple tool for showcasing rich media such as photos, videos and infographics.
LinkedIn is a social media platform geared toward professionals, and enables users to network and to build their professional portfolios. It also allows users to seek new jobs and, vice-versa, seek out job candidates for positions at their companies. LinkedIn has more than 575 million users, 260 million of which are active monthly. The University of Southern Maine has an active presence on LinkedIn, with nearly 38,000 followers. LinkedIn is like Twitter; post at least once daily.
Youtube is a video sharing platform owned by Google. Users can create their own profiles, upload videos, watch, like and comment on other videos. YouTube has been transformational in the social video movement, and now has over 1.8 billion users worldwide. USM uses YouTube primarily to house marketing and news video content for sharing on the USM website and on other social media.
Originator of “Stories,” Snapchat is a mobile app for sharing ephemeral photos, videos, and chat messages with other people. The app began in 2012 and in recent years has expanded to include news and entertainment content. It has 186 million users as of 2019. The university has a Snapchat account, though it is mostly reserved for large events.
Social Media Posting
Research whether anyone mentioned in a news story or post (including the source) has a Facebook page or Twitter account, and, if they do, tag them. This increases the visibility of both your page and the source’s page. The source will likely share (on Facebook) or retweet (on Twitter), increasing visibility further.
Understand the social media platform: For any social media platform that you administer, learn the rules of engagement, features, functionality and terms of service for that platform. Understand/speak the lingo of the network you're using, and don’t use jargon where not appropriate. It’s important to be personable, but also professional.
Tailor content to the best platform: Younger students tend to prefer Instagram and Twitter, while Facebook typically appeals to a broader audience. Visual posts work well on Instagram and Facebook, where short, snappy posts work better on Twitter (see “Play by the rules” below).
Be engaging: Use engaging content that will spark the interest of your audience. For instance, rich media such as pictures and videos are considered to be the most engaging type of content in social media. You can also share links to relevant news, articles, blogs and other social media sites.
Listen and ask questions: Another way to be more engaging is to listen and ask questions of your audiences in order to gain feedback and insight. For optimum audience engagement and to uphold the university's professional appearance, administrators should respond to posts in a timely manner (same day is preferred, or within 24-48 hours maximum).
Research social media trends/hashtags before using them to avoid a public relations nightmare. (Read about DiGiorno’s Twitter fiasco as just one example).
Be timely, but also be strategic with scheduling posts. It’s typically important to get information out as soon as possible, but it may be worth holding onto a news article mentioning USM until just prior to an event or announcement. Verify official news announcements with the Office of Public Affairs to avoid having to retract them if the change doesn't go through (i.e., announcements pertaining to tuition or scholarships, new programs, campus initiatives, etc.)
Consider your audience, since certain events or news items may be more appropriate and/or appeal better to a particular group, and not everything needs to be posted.
Tailor content to the best platform: Younger students tend to prefer Instagram and Twitter, while Facebook typically appeals to a slightly older audience. Visual posts work well on Instagram and Facebook, where short, snappy posts work better on Twitter (see “Play by the rules” below).
If using a live video feature, events being streamed should display appropriate content specifically relating to USM (no political rallies, for example).
- Video should be horizontal for Facebook; turn the phone sideways prior to starting a video.
- Video should be vertical for Instagram (See more in “How-To: Live Video” below). For more information regarding video, please see our list of photography and videography tips.
Additionally, the following guidelines have been adapted from the Salesforce “50 Social Media Best Practices.”
- Be customer-focused. As you listen for questions and comments, focus on how you can make the customer experience consistent across social media, web, email and more.
- Humanize your brand. If you are at an event, share behind-the-scenes photos, videos and more. Show who is running the social media account. Keep a (professional) sense of humor. Users are more likely to engage with a brand when they know a person is on the other end.
- Don’t overshare. The social media landscape is inherently busy. Instead of bombarding your audience with mediocre content, share focused, exciting content less often to drive engagement. Avoid posting too often on Facebook and Instagram in particular, as their algorithms will push excess content to the bottom of the news feed.
- Help your customers become experts. If you see a lot of the same questions over and over again, consider putting those answers on your department/program website so people will be able to easily find the answers. Engage with users and answer all questions as best you can.
- Deal with negative feedback quickly and strategically. Respond quickly to negative feedback, and with facts.
- Play by the rules. Each channel has its own rules and expectations for users. Make sure you’re using each social network the way it is meant to be used.
- Verify all students/alumni before posting a story about one. The Office of Registration can help verify current students. Contact Larisa Ebinger at the USM Foundation for alumni information.
- Verify faculty/staff if you aren’t sure who they are. Mentions of faculty being quoted in a news article tend to fare better on Twitter, which is more news-friendly.
- All athletics teams are "The Huskies," regardless of gender (no “Lady Huskies" allowed).
Why tag accounts?
Mentioning and tagging brings awareness to additional pages from the USM community. Tagging also shows your content to a broader audience — the audience of both your account and the page you tag — meaning your message will reach more people.
We in the Office of Public Affairs want to share your messaging to the broader USM community. Help us spread your message by tagging or mentioning the University of Southern Maine or one of its additional social media profiles in your posts on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Tagging on Facebook:
To tag USM or an additional USM page on Facebook, type "@" then start typing the name of the page. For this example, we will use the USM Admissions Facebook page. USM Admissions uses the @username @USMadmissions, making it easy to find and tag their page.
Once the page appears in the dropdown menu, select it to insert it into your post. "University of Southern Maine Admissions" will appear in bolded text as a link.
In this example, the "University of Southern Maine Admissions" page has been tagged. Once the post is sent, the Admissions page will receive a notification that their page has been mentioned in a post. From there, the Admissions page can choose to share the post.
This process is the same for tagging accounts on Instagram — the only exception is accounts will appear above the comment you are making, rather than in a dropdown menu.
Mentioning on Twitter:
Type "@" then start typing the name of the Twitter handle you want to mention.
Once the handle appears, select it from the dropdown menu. Then continue with your tweet.
TIP: If you start a tweet by mentioning a handle, put a period before the handle so people can see the tweet. Otherwise, Twitter will think it is a conversation, which will severely limit your reach.
Remember, tagging and mentioning brings awareness to other USM pages, so do so when it is appropriate.
- Native links — news stories shared directly on your page — get your feed more views than those shared from other accounts. Posts with just links in the text are ranked lower on Facebook’s algorithm (known as EdgeRank).
- Delete hyperlinks on Facebook. Once Facebook previews the link you are posting, the text hyperlink isn't necessary. Make it a practice to delete the hyperlink as it shows savviness.
- Don't fish/beg for likes. Don't ask people to share/like the page. This is not seen as genuine and, as of December 2017, Facebook penalizes pages that routinely ask for shares and likes, making those posts less-discoverable to followers.
- When responding to comments/questions, respond by tagging the person (provided they are taggable).
- Posts in which people are forced to engage get more likes. Calls to Action (“see more,” “read more,” “find out more” and “learn more,” etc.) will almost always prompt more engagement, as will posts with interactive features such as videos, 3D photos or live video capabilities.
- Read more about Live Video below.
- Links to news-related content are a must.
- Tag (@mention) organizations or individuals within sentences to increase the visibility of your tweet.
- Include relevant hashtags (trending, if applicable) to link back to your tweets and make your content more discoverable to other users.
- Include photos and videos whenever possible to draw more attention to your content.
- Retweet only from verified, accurate and trusted sources.
Instagram has evolved over the years. The originator of the square photo format, the platform now allows users to display horizontal or vertical photos and videos; multiple photo/video files in one post; and also "Stories," which are ephemeral, 24-hour posts users can make to highlight the day without clogging their main feeds.
If you wish to utilize Instagram for your department or program, look toward these recommendations when making your posts.
For Editing Photos/Videos:
Do not overuse filters. While tempting, excessive use of filters cloud the reality of what is happening in your photo, and make them appear less than professional. If you wish to use a filter, Instagram now allows users to decrease the transparency of a filter to their desired level. About 30 percent is the most you'll want to go.
Don't over-edit photos. When it comes to editing a photo, it can be tempting to over-saturate and expose a photo or bring its sharpness all the way up. Keep editing minimal so as to reflect what is actually happening in the image.
Crop out distractions. We've all seen an image ruined by someone making a gesture or face in the background ("photobombers") or by an unsightly object (waste receptacles or clutter). Do your best to minimize these distractions when taking the photo, and crop them out if they linger.
Videos uploaded to Instagram can only be 60 seconds (1 minute) long, or they'll have to be clipped in editing. For longer, vertical videos, departments may consider using Instagram TV (IGTV), a new feature that allows videos up to an hour long in vertical format. Please contact the university's social media administrator prior to launching an IGTV channel.
Follow our Photography and Videography Tips for more information on the best kinds of photos for news and event purposes.
For Posting Photos/Videos:
Exercise brevity. Keep captions relatively short, with a focus on why the image was important to share.
Don't overdo hashtags. While hashtags are a great way for people to find your content, not every single piece of the photo requires its own hashtag. Keep hashtags relevant and to a minimum.
Tag individuals/groups associated with the photo. Tag students, university organizations or community partners in your photos so their follows can see your content — and they'll appreciate it, too.
Stories are a great way to tell a narrative over time, and are perfect for events. They appear at the top of one's Instagram feed and are comprised of photos and/or 10-second videos that allow users to edit them through drawing, using GIFs, writing text and tagging others and hashtagging. They can be as long or short as you want them to be.
To share a story, tap on your profile photo or swipe right when viewing your feed to enter the camera. There, you can begin shooting or you can upload a photo from your camera roll.
- Keep story length reasonable. Large, long events like Commencement often require frequent posting and so a Commencement story may be longer than, say, one about a student's research project — but that can vary.
- Keep extra elements to a minimum. It can be tempting to use multiple GIFs, hashtags and text boxes, but these detract from the story imagery when over-utilized. Stick to two or three elements instead.
- Want people to see your story again? You can save a story for later and add it to your Story Highlights. To do this, go to your page and tap the "+" symbol above your photos. Upload the story, give it a name and save.
The Offices of Public Affairs and Marketing and Brand Management have compiled a list of photography and videography tips, with an emphasis on event photography and filming, available for your use.
- If you have the budget, you may wish to hire an external photographer. Contact Marketing or Public Affairs for a list of freelance photographers. Photo/Video release policy: for any photos taken that may be used for future publicity, please view the signed release policy.
- Please note that, for social media especially, photos and videos taken using smartphones are more than acceptable to use and post — this is a handy way for you to quickly share content with your followers. Take a look at the photography and filming tips to learn how to take the best photos to meet your needs.
- Different platforms require different sizes and shapes of photos. View this page from Sprout Social for up-to-date image sizing for social media platforms.
Often times a social media post may require a photo, but one is unavailable. Examples include career fairs, admitted student days or other large-scale events. The USM photo library has dozens of images available for download for use in digital and print materials, as well as on social media. View the public galleries.
Note: when downloading, enter password usmhuskies
Live video is an effective way at capturing your audience’s attention, both in the moment and after. When done right, it can be a simple way to expand your messaging potential. It’s not hard, but does take a little know-how. A very good tutorial on how to do this on a mobile device can be found on AdWeek. NPR also has a fantastic guide.
- Use your Facebook application, or download Facebook Pages Manager from the App Store or Google Play.
- Log in to your Facebook account (Note: If you have a separate account for page administration, you will need to log into that account instead of your personal account).
- Tap “Publish,” then tap "Add to your post" where audiovisual and location icons are displayed.
- Select "Live Video."
- Add a brief, detailed description of your video — who, what and where — and then hit “Done."
- Turn mobile device on its side. For professional events, horizontal video is preferred. Vertical video is not encouraged except for short updates. Hit the camera icon to go live.
- When you are done, hit “Finish Live Video” and, when prompted to keep or discard the video, tap “Post.”
- You are now done with your live video. Take the time to answer questions and respond to comments users have posted during the stream.
- Mount the mobile device on a tripod, if possible, or prop it up using books or a case.
- If an event involves speaking and does not have a microphone, use an external mic if possible. Otherwise, get close to the speaker.
- Contextualize the space. If you can, include some of the background or audience so viewers understand the setting.
- Turn off the device’s ringer. A video will easily be ruined if you receive a phone call/text during the stream.
- Some mobile pages will not display the “Live” function upfront. Tap “Post,” then select “Live Video.”
Instagram Live offers a simple way to go live without the preparation involved with Facebook. The greatest difference between the platforms is that Instagram's live video is vertical, to fit the phone screen.
- On your mobile device, log in to your Instagram page account.
- You will automatically be routed to the "Main Feed" of Instagram. Swipe right to enter the "Story" window.
- Slide the function bar from "Normal" to "Live."
- Tap "Start Live VIdeo." Your followers will be notified when you go live.
- Add text, graphics and tags using the functions on your screen.
- When done, tap "End" in the top right. You can choose to share the video for 24 hours so your followers can check back if they missed the stream. You can also save the video to share elsewhere at a later time.
- You will have completed your live stream.
- Hold your mobile device close to your body to steady the device and reduce camera shake.
- Have text prepared in advance and copied to your phone's clipboard so you can paste it quickly and not waste time during the stream.
#USMhuskygram: Got a great picture that showcases life at USM? Use this hashtag to share it with us.
#USMspeaks: Use when sharing photos of, thoughts on, or conversations about any lectures you're attending.
#USMintheNews: Use this hashtag when sharing any information about USM or your office, school, college or organization that may have appeared in the media.
#USMFaculty: Use this hashtag when mentioning USM faculty members in posts.
#HuskyPride: Want to share something that shows off some USM pride? Use this hashtag in your post.
#USMHuskyHello: Use this hashtag for USM Welcome Week at the beginning of the Fall semester
Social Media Directory
Many university departments, programs or affiliated organizations also maintain their own social media presence to better connect with their audiences, whether students, faculty or the public at large. Below is a directory of university social media pages recognized as official by the Office of Public Affairs. Those wishing to establish a USM social media account must contact the Office of Public Affairs as outlined in the university's Social Media Policy. Note: If you manage a university-affiliated social media channel and it is not listed below, please contact the university's social media administrator).
We value the use of social media at the University of Southern Maine, and appreciate your efforts to make our online and interactive presence the best it can be. Should you have any questions regarding social media, or any comments or concerns, please contact the Office of Public Affairs.