We recognize the value of social media as an influential two-way communication tool and we are committed to sharing quality content and providing best-in-class social media customer service. We strive to reach, educate, and engage the entire Hokie nation through a digital-first approach, disseminating helpful news and information in a timely manner. We encourage meaningful and personalized interactions, welcome community feedback and strive to be transparent and proactive in our digital communications. In this social space, we support our Hokies and our brand.
Social media accounts support a range of goals at the university and must preserve and uphold Virginia Tech’s brand identity, integrity, and reputation. The university authorizes the creation and use of university social media accounts, provided their use is professional, protects the reputation and brand of the university, aligns with university priorities, and complies with other VT policies and applicable state and federal laws and regulations, and is guided by the Virginia Tech Principles of Community.
As in everything else we do, on social media, we are constantly solving complex problems, pushing boundaries, serving others, & reimagining education & technology. We are #VirginiaTech social media.
- Virginia Tech Social Media Policy — Policy No. 1030 (PDF)
- University Social Media Handbook (requires PID login to view)
Branding & Style Requirements
Before starting a new social media account, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- Who is the audience?
- Why are you starting this account?
- Do you have the resources to maintain this account?
- What makes your account unique?
- How can account administrators be contacted?
- What are your peer institutions doing on social media?
These questions and the answers you give should help you determine whether to create a new account or use an existing account that has established followers.
Note: If you wish to do this for a time-bound event (like a conference), you should utilize tools like an event-specific hashtag and a Facebook event, rather than starting a new account.
Representing Virginia Tech
By having a social media account that indicates you work at or attend Virginia Tech, or if you run an account for your unit, you may be perceived as being a spokesperson for Virginia Tech. It is essential that you do not speak for Virginia Tech, the institution, but that you represent your unit. In that role, you should consider yourself a spokesperson. To mitigate any potential issues, be mindful of the following:
- Stick to your area of professional expertise.
- Confirm information before posting/sharing to ensure it is correct. When in doubt, don’t post.
- Use good judgment when responding to comments. Review the decision tree at the end of this document for reference.
- Questions/comments that are related to a news story or press release should be referred to @vtnews on Twitter and/or the Media Relations Director of University Relations.
- Keep personal accounts separate from your role at Virginia Tech when possible. If there is overlap, ensure your personal views are not viewed as official Commonwealth of Virginia communications.
- You may include a disclaimer in your About section (from Policy: 1.75 – Use of Electronic Communications And Social Media), such as:
“The views expressed on this (website, blog, social media site) are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer or of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
- You may include a disclaimer in your About section (from Policy: 1.75 – Use of Electronic Communications And Social Media), such as:
Branding Your Platforms
Official Virginia Tech-affiliated social media accounts must adhere to the Virginia Tech Brand Guide to ensure consistency across platforms. Resources are available for Virginia Tech employees and students in the Brand Center.
Official Virginia Tech logos are available to download to help you create profile photos and cover photos as the platform allows. Official university primary and secondary colors are available in the Brand Guide for reference when creating page identity images. Please note: You may not alter the logo in any way when creating a profile picture.
- Logo guidelines and usage: brand.vt.edu/identity/logo
Virginia Tech-affiliated accounts are encouraged to use the official Virginia Tech logo, following the logo guidelines. There are four versions available for download, and they have been adjusted to fit various profile picture displays, including the circle crop.
Note: if your social media account's name does not begin with “Virginia Tech,” you will need to use the profile picture that places the words “Virginia Tech” below the “VT.” If your account's name does start with “Virginia Tech,” you may use either version.
For accounts that start with ”Virginia Tech“
Right-click on the image to download
For all Virginia Tech-affiliated accounts
Right-click on the image to download
- Full, official name of your unit.
- Typically begins with “Virginia Tech” (i.e. Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences); but may not contain “Virginia Tech” if it holds a donor’s name — in that case, ensure Virginia Tech is in the about information, as described below.
- If space is limited in the platform, “VT” is an acceptable alternative to “Virginia Tech” (i.e. @VT_Football)
2. Contact information
- Official website link.
- As space allows, include other contact information such as:
- Telephone number(s)
- Email address(es)
- Other websites
3. “About” information
- As space allows, fill out as completely as possible the about section of your profile.
- This includes mission, descriptions, founding information, etc.
- Include “Virginia Tech” here if your unit’s official name does not contain it (i.e. the name comes from a donor).
4. Profile picture
- Must represent your unit in a clear manner.
- Must be readable at small, thumbnail size and be high enough resolution for larger expanded sizes.
- If unsure about appropriateness, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
5. Other photos/cover photo
- If available, choose a photo that works well in the horizontal area at the top of many social media platform pages.
- It should represent your unit and/or directly complement your profile picture.
- Swap this photo regularly to refresh the look of your page.
When using or creating other hashtags, do your research before you tweet. This includes going to Twitter and Instagram and performing a search for the intended hashtag. Take note of the posts associated with the hashtag and use your best judgment about using that hashtag with your own promotions.
Virginia Tech uses certain hashtags for tweets and other social media posts. They are:
Presentations and Trainings
- What's Changed on Social Media 2020-2021 / Training slides, PDF
- 2020 VT Social Media Content Strategy and Best Practices / Training slides, PDF
- 2020 Instagram Stories Training: How to get your audience to stop skipping your Instagram Stories
- 2020 Strategic Communications in a Dynamic Environment
- VT Social Media 2019: Social Media Accessibility / Training slides, PDF
- VT Social Media 2019: Best Practices on Business vs. Personal Use / Training Slides, PDF
- VT Social Media 2019: How to Create an Otterly Amazing Social Media Campaign / Training Slides, PDF
- VT Social Media 2019: Measuring Success with Analytics / Training slides, PDF
- VT Social Media 2018: What's Changed and How to Adapt / Training slides, PDF
Tips For Content Creation
The ever-evolving landscape of social media means that you’ll have to stay abreast of emerging technology and platform developments. Take time to assess new content features and if they can help you achieve your goals. Some sites offer information on image sizes for each platform:
- Constant Contact: blogs.constantcontact.com/2019-social-media-image-sizes-cheat-sheet
- Marketing Tech: makeawebsitehub.com/social-media-image-sizes-cheat-sheet
Using Submitted Content
To help maintain good relationships with students and alumni and to give you more content for your posts, you can solicit submissions for photos and other content from your followers. If you receive submissions that you intend to post from your account, ensure you have permission from the user as well as the photographer (if a different person) before sharing.
Collect the following information and give proper attribution:
- Hometown (if student)
- Graduation year
Tools for Instagram, such as the Repost app, will add an attribution box to the image. You should still tag the submitter’s username in the comment box with the other pertinent information.
Moderating Online Discussions
Community Commenting Guidelines
Virginia Tech welcomes your comments on our social media posts and encourages interaction among Hokies around the world. We ask that you use the Virginia Tech Principles of Community as guidance in your posts and remain true to the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).
We review all comments made. Comments may be removed if they are off-topic, defamatory, an unauthorized commercial solicitation, or an attack, or if they contain illegal suggestions or use foul language. We reserve the right to terminate access to the page by repeat offenders.
Please email us at email@example.com with any concerns about the content on Virginia Tech's social media accounts. Comments made by outside users are the opinions of the authors, not of the university.
Social media administrators should respond to commenters who express concerns and attempt to address them directly or refer them to a person or department who can.
The structure of your response will vary based on the nature of the social networking platform but it should always be friendly and representative of Virginia Tech’s culture and values.
Not every critique needs a response; some people are just venting frustrations, or they are “trolls” — those who engage in off-topic or inflammatory posts in an attempt to provoke others.
Comments that are inappropriate, offensive, insult or attack, contain illegal suggestions, or use foul language should be removed as allowed by that particular social media platform, as should those that are intentionally repetitive (spam). Keep a log of any comments removed, and most importantly, be consistent with the treatment of all commenters.
Removing posts that have become controversial
Occasionally, you may find that something you’ve posted to your page has taken a life of its own in the comments section. If your audience is staying on-topic and remaining civil as per your community commenting guidelines, it is advisable to let the commenters keep each other in check. If needed, remind commenters about your commenting guidelines.
However, if the conversation seems to be sliding toward only one point of view in a manner that is contrary to the spirit of your post, you may need to make a moderator decision.
Please contact Susan Gill, 540-231-0946, to discuss the best course of action regarding the topics mentioned above
How to Measure Success
It is important to be able to set goals and measure success against those goals for social media. This will inform overall communications strategy and help you assess whether certain platforms work better for your intended audiences than others.
Many social media companies have blogs with how-tos. To educate yourself on how and what to measure, look to the experts. Here are some suggestions on where to start:
- Razor Social: razorsocial.com/social-media-analytics-tools
- Social Media Examiner: socialmediaexaminer.com/5-tools-to-measure-social-media-roi
- HootSuite Blog: blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-metrics
- Buffer: blog.bufferapp.com/definitive-guide-social-media-metrics-stats
- Simply Measured Blog: bit.ly/2hDXNe7
- Dashboard: A place to consolidate and quickly analyze data; spreadsheets are commonly used, and there are a variety of browser-based and downloadable software options, typically for a fee.
- Engagement: A metric used to describe the amount of interaction — likes, shares, comments — a piece of content receives.
- Engagement Rate: A metric used to describe the amount of interaction — likes, shares, comments — a piece of content receives.
- Follower: Refers to a person who subscribes to your account in order to receive your updates.
- Impressions: A metric used to show the number of times content associated with your page is displayed.
- Reach: A metric used to show the number of people who saw your content. Includes people who have chosen to follow your account and those who have not.
Baseline data for existing accounts
If you are setting up a measurement plan for the first time, or if you have inherited an existing social media account, you should determine a baseline for your account(s) to have a basis for measurement.
- Collect data as far back as possible, but a minimum of a year is ideal
- Add the data to a dashboard for easy analysis (Excel is one example of a place to collect data)
- Make note of Follower growth rate and average Reach/Impressions and Engagement Rate
Determine what your goals are for the next year, quarter, etc. Do you want to:
- Increase the number of followers by a certain percentage?
- Drive more traffic to your website using social media?
- Increase donations to your program or unit?
- Have conversations with your followers?
To best accomplish these and other goals, create calls-to-action. For example:
- Increase followers = “Share with your friends” or “Like and follow”
- Drive more traffic = “Click here” with web URL
- Increase donations = “Donate now” button or web URL link with appeal
- Have conversations = ask questions and respond to answers
Create and execute a plan
Plan out the promotions you want to do around specific events and throughout the year. Be sure to include the calls-to-action you’ve determined and craft messaging to reflect those actions. Paying for promoted posts may help with your reach if you don’t have a great number of followers.
After the promotions run, collect the statistics and add them to your dashboard. Determine whether you met or exceeded your determined goal. If you did not do either, adjust your goals, expectations, or messaging for the next promotion.
Resource Network Guide
Departments and offices at Virginia Tech have a growing need for marketing and communications services. University Relations created this guide to facilitate the process to obtain creative outside/freelance resources to help campus communicators and the university community fulfill needs.
In partnership with the university's Procurement department, University Relations identified and vetted vendors in a variety of specialties and secured competitively negotiated university contracts for high-quality creative services. These contracts are available through HokieMart.
See the Resource Network Guide by clicking the link below. Social media vendors are near the bottom of the page.
How to Plan a Social Media Campaign
1. Assemble a team
A successful team consists of members who can take ownership and responsibility for carrying out day-to-day updates in addition to long-term campaign goals.
- Do: Include anyone who could benefit from a successful campaign and those with writing and photo editing skills and business-related social media experience.
- Don’t: Try to tackle a campaign completely on your own (if you can help it).
2. Plan your campaign
Ask and answer the following questions:
- Who is your audience?
- On which social platform(s) will you be most likely to reach your audience?
- What are your short-term goals?
- What are your long-term goals?
- How do your goals align with Advancement goals?
- What are your calls-to-action? (i.e. visit a website, take a survey, etc.)
- How will you determine success?
- What activities/responsibilities are needed by team members before, during, and after the campaign?
- Do you have a budget available to aid in your campaign?
3. Choose your social platform(s)
- Determine your target audience
- Review your social media accounts’ analytics to learn follower demographics. Pay close attention to the engaged followers — they’re the ones who are more in-tune with your content and respond with action.
- Pick the best platforms to reach your target audience based on follower demographics.
4. Use an editorial calendar to plan posts
- Use a shared digital spreadsheet or calendar (i.e. Google Calendar) to layout time and order of posts in your campaign.
- Use scheduling tools like HootSuite or Buffer to accomplish this, if available.
5. Determine a tone/voice appropriate for your campaign
- Within the overall tone of your brand, adjust your campaign posts’ voice to what your audience will engage with.
- Maintain professionalism even when being informal, fun, and friendly.
- Use emojis and hashtags to add content value and to be a part of larger conversations.
Source: Social Media Examiner, www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-campaign-elements
Campus Emergency Communications
In an emergency or another incident, university-affiliated accounts should not post information that has not been approved for dissemination from approved sources or spokespeople. If you wish to disseminate the information, you should share posts from the official channels listed below.
Contact Susan Gill, Director of New Media, 540-231-0946 for more information
Social media is an increasingly vital part of how we as a society communicate, and that’s especially true in times of heightened awareness. Rumors quickly spread in the absence of reliable, verified information.
The University Status website contains information on operating statuses at Virginia Tech campuses. Please refer to this page for general and contact information: vt.edu/status
Official messages during emergencies and other incidents will come from the following social media accounts:
- Virginia Tech
- VT Alerts
- Twitter: twitter.com/vtalerts
- Virginia Tech Police
- Virginia Tech Office of Emergency Management
In an emergency or another incident, university-affiliated accounts should not post information that has not been approved for dissemination from approved sources or spokespeople. If you wish to disseminate the information, you should share posts from the official channels listed above.
College communicators who receive questions during emergencies or other incidents should refer them to the Senior Associate Vice President for University Relations, Assistant Vice President of University Relations, or Media Relations Director, as appropriate.
Threats received via social media
If you become aware of a potential threat via your role as a social media administrator, report it immediately.
If the nature of the threat is an emergency, call 911. You can also refer a situation of concern to the university Threat Assessment Team at ThreatAssessment@vt.edu or to Virginia Tech Police at 540-231-6411. Additionally, include firstname.lastname@example.org on an email, or notify Susan Gill at 540-231-0946 after you have notified emergency personnel.
Include as much information as possible, including the username of the individual involved, a screenshot of the message, who or what is involved, when the message was received, and other pertinent information.
To suggest new social media guides or for questions about these guidelines and best practices, contact email@example.com