Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Social @ SU

Social @ Southwestern

Social media refers to online tools that people use to connect with one another, including social networks (from AP Stylebook Online [2010]). These services allow users to create and publish content about themselves and their organizations. The social aspect of these tools lies in the ability for individuals to interact and connect with others, thereby building online communities.

Social media offers a unique opportunity for two-way communication with our constituent groups, such as prospective and current students, faculty and staff, alumni, parents and others. These tools allow the University to share information with the world, but perhaps more important, to allow our constituents to communicate with us in return. Therefore, listening and responding are key parts of the social media equation. Social media also allow us to share traditional media stories and other online resources with our online communities quickly and easily. Southwestern University supports the appropriate use of social media in support of University communication goals.

Below you will find the following information to assist with your social media efforts:

Getting Started with Social Media at Southwestern
Naming Standards
Icon Guidelines & Tips
Social Media Planning Guide and Strategy Worksheet
Best Practices
Southwestern Social Media Directory


This information provides guidance on how to do so effectively, safely and within University guidelines. Some of the information below has been adapted from the resources of other institutions, including Puget Sound University, Wright State University, Gettysburg College and Tufts University.



Answer “yes” or “no” to the following:
  • Do you have a goal for your new social media effort? In general, all Southwestern social media accounts should strive to boost the University’s visibility and uphold its core purpose.
  • Do you have someone (or a group of people) who will be responsible for monitoring and updating the account? Be prepared - this sort of thing takes time and should not be thrown together. Your point person(s) should be ready to take this task on and have clearly defined roles.
  • Do you have an active following or interested parties? You can’t be social by yourself. Having followers or fans is central to making it work.
  • Do you have enough material to make at least one post per week? Regular posts help keep your audience interested and coming back for more.
  • Do you have the technical ability to produce photos or videos that may be needed for some of these sites? Many social media sites rely on visual content to engage users.
Did you answer “yes” to all of the above? Then you are probably ready to get started! (See STEP 1 for more details.)


STEP 1: Consult with the Office of University Relations – Communications

The Office of University Relations – Communications is here to work you with your social media efforts. Listed below are some of the topics we like to discuss.
Creating a strategy that supports your goal. Before you sign up and start posting, spend some time considering how you will achieve your social media goal(s). Use these forms to help you. It can also be helpful to look for similar programs at other universities to see how they are using social media tools.
Choosing your tool(s). Once you’ve outlined your goals, you can determine which social media is right for your needs. Certain goals will typically lend themselves to one or more forms of social media. Do not assume that you need to be everywhere or on every site.
Choosing a name.  The Office of University Relations – Communications has a set of naming standards for Southwestern University social media. Maintaining consistency allows people to find your social media presence faster and helps the University protect its brand. The standards are as follows:
Facebook Page Name
  • You can only change your page name if you have fewer than 200 likes. If you have more than 200 likes, you must submit a request.

Facebook Username

  • In addition to the name shown on your Facebook page, you can also create a custom username ( There is no longer a minimum fan requirement for creating a custom username. Once selected, this cannot be changed, so select wisely. See Facebook’s guidelines for usernames.
Twitter Name
  • Include “SU” along with your department, school or organization name. Keep in mind the limit is 20 characters. (e.g. SU Civic Engagement)
  • If you are promoting the identity behind the Twitter account or you want to elaborate more on your area, you may include that information in your bio.

Twitter Handle/URL (Username)

  • Limit is 15 characters
  • Should align with your name if possible (e.g. Southwestern University Department of Political Science could be “SU_PoliSci”) while still conveying meaning (e.g. “SU_PS” has no obvious meaning).
  • Athletics groups may use “Pirates” in place of or in addition to Southwestern or SU, e.g. “SUPiratesGolf”
  • Even if you are publicizing the identity behind the Twitter account (e.g. the Civic Engagement Coordinator), you may consider keeping a non-personal name (e.g. @SU_OCE) in case of staff turnover, change of roles/focus, etc.
If you have already created a name and it does not comply with these standards, please make this change or contact us for assistance. In some cases you will not be able to update your name if it has already been claimed. If that is the case, do your best to maintain a similar naming convention.
It goes without saying that no department should choose a name that might lead people to believe it is representing the entire institution, such as “Southwestern University.” Additionally, it’s important to consider using a consistent name across platforms.

   Developing an icon.  At no time should the University seal or word mark be used as a social media icon without express permission. Development of custom social media icons for various departments is available by contacting the Office of University Relations – Communications. Please keep the following information in mind as you choose your icon:
Facebook Page Profile Image
  • Your profile image should be something recognizable, distinctive and relevant to your organization or department. Keep in mind that most people see a very small version of this image, especially if viewing on a mobile device.
  • Page profile pictures are square and display at 160x160 pixels. The photo you upload must be at least 180x180 pixels. Rectangular images will be cropped to fit a square.
  • Page profile pictures display next to your Page’s name around the site, so yours should stand on its own to represent your Page.
Facebook Page Cover Image
  • Cover photos are 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels tall. If you upload an image that’s smaller than these dimensions, it will get stretched to this larger size. The image you upload must be at least 399 pixels wide.
  • You can also be creative with how your profile picture and cover photo go together. On your Page’s cover, the profile picture displays 23 pixels from the left side and 210 pixels from the top of your cover photo.
Twitter Icon
  • Your icon should be something recognizable, distinctive and relevant to your organization or department. Keep in mind that most people see a very small version of this image, especially if viewing on a mobile device.
  • When you upload your user image, it will only show (on as a 48×48 pixel avatar when seen via Twitter on the web or a client, but users can click on the image to see a larger version. So, instead of uploading the 48×48 image, upload a larger version (e.g., 300x300px).
Twitter Header Image
  • This feature is similar to Facebook’s cover photo.
  • Twitter recommends 1200×600, but it will resize any uploaded image to 520×260 pixels.
  • More information (and a visual) can be found here.
Twitter Background Image
  • Twitter background images should be 1600×1200.
  • You can find more information about customizing this portion of your Twitter account on their help page.
Finding images/media. The Office of University Relations – Communications often can assist in identifying existing media resources you might need. Visit the Resources menu or contact us for assistance.
After the issues outlined above have been addressed, consider your strategy and the time involved in successfully executing it. This will allow you to determine who on your department or organization will have responsibility for implementing and maintaining social media efforts. (We recommend that you have more than one person trained so there is a backup in place.)

STEP 2: Get Registered

Once you’re ready to make things official, register your social media account by filling out this form. Doing so will ensure that your site is added to the Southwestern University Social Media Directory.

STEP 3: Build Your 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 a small and trusted group, such as Southwestern’s Social Media Advisory Group (SMAG). This will help you work out any issues prior to your public launch. 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: Go 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: email, website and/or print materials, for example. If you haven’t already done so, register your account to have it added to the Southwestern University Social Media Directory. Doing so alerts the Associate Director of University Relations – New Media so it can be shared with our fans, followers and subscribers. We can also add you to the SMAG Google Group so you can join us periodically to discuss trends and strategies for making the most of our social media efforts and learn from others on campus engaged in social media.

Be sure to notify other departments with social media accounts so you can connect with one another and form a network of Southwestern University 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 @SUPirates account on the main University Twitter feed, @southwesternu.
Other resources to consider when publicizing your social media efforts: adding links to your University Web page and adding social media icons to any print pieces you publish. These online and print acknowledgements of your social media outlets may include the use of the well-known icons for these media. Recommended icons of the major social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) can be found on the Communications Resources Web page.
As you work with social media, you’ll see that some things you do are well-received and foster communication from your audience, while 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 tracking options, allowing you to see which content is most effective and who is using your feed. For instance, when we started the University Twitter feed, we originally thought many of our followers would be alumni and current students. While we do have followers in this demographic, our 1,200+ followers also include prospective students, parents, faculty, staff and local community organizations.