Social media has provided us with the opportunity to reach large audiences quickly and with very few barriers. While this makes social media a great option for marketing and for sharing news and information, it also increases the weight of the responsibility we have around what we post, how we engage and with whom we engage. All university social media communications and language should be reflective and consistent with Samford University’s values and mission.

These guidelines were endorsed by the President’s cabinet in 2019.

Purpose

In our strategic approach to social media management, we seek to feature content from across the university on our primary social media accounts. This is beneficial for many reasons. First, it provides the largest audience for quality content. A fragmented approach yields less engagement and a narrow reach. Samford has a presence on seven social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Spotify and YouTube) with over 226,519 followers. This streamlined approach to social media is not only more impactful, but it is also more efficient. Social media management is a 24/7 job and limiting this responsibility to a designated group of colleagues allows for a more concentrated use of resources in this important area of marketing and communication.

The Division of Marketing and Communication has developed these account requirements to assist the Samford community in the safe, legal and effective use of social media and to protect users’ personal and professional reputations and the reputation of the university. Any social media accounts featuring the name Samford University or any of our schools, teams or programs are subject to the requirements outlined here. Existing accounts will be periodically reviewed to ensure that they adhere to these requirements. Inactive accounts, or accounts that do not adhere to these guidelines, will be closed.

Because social media evolves constantly, the guidelines are subject to ongoing review and updates.

Account Requirements

In addition to our flagship presence, these primary social media accounts officially represent the university. Account requirements pertain to primary accounts. Primary accounts are created for an external marketing purpose, examples being social media accounts representing our academic schools, athletic teams, admissions and other areas of campus.

All social media accounts featuring the name Samford University or any of our schools, teams or programs (Samford Brock School of Business, Greek Life, The Office of Spiritual Life, Student Government Association) must receive specific approval from the Division of Marketing and Communication. Employees requesting new accounts must demonstrate a significant need to communicate outside of the primary accounts and a sizeable audience. Requests for new accounts may be sent to the social media manager.

  1. A strategy meeting with the social media manager is required prior to creating a new account or transitioning the management of an existing account to another account manager.
  2. All accounts must be linked to a designated administrative email account, rather than a personal email account. (ie: samfordsocialmedia@samford.edu versus lmarino@samford.edu).
    • The only exception to this requirement is LinkedIn. In order to open a LinkedIn business page, the platform requires you to use a personal profile; therefore, the social media manager must be assigned as an administrator on your page.
    • Even though there is an option on Facebook to create a page using a personal profile, please use a designated administrative email account rather than a personal one.
      • All University Facebook accounts must be integrated into Samford’s Facebook Business Manager. If you manage an existing page that has not been integrated yet, contact the social media manager to set up a time to complete this process with the Digital Marketing team.
  3. The university’s social media manager must have administrative access to all accounts. If login information changes, the social media manager must be provided with updated credentials. For Samford Athletics accounts, the associate athletics director for marketing and strategic communication must have administrative access.
  4. All Samford University owned social media accounts must follow the approved account naming structure. The social media manager must approve any new social property and name before it is created to ensure the channel name fits in the naming structure and best describes your channel. Below are platform-specific guidelines.
    • On Facebook and LinkedIn, "Samford University" must be at the beginning of the page name (ie: Samford University School of the Arts).
    • On YouTube, "Samford" must be at the beginning of a channel page name.
    • On Instagram and Twitter and TikTok, the handles must match (ie: @samfordu on both Twitter and Instagram) and the display name should begin with Samford University if the character limit allows. If the character limit restricts you, please begin with Samford (i.e: Samford University College of Health Sciences or Samford College of Health Sciences).
    • The “about” or “bio” section of your account must include “The official {channel} for Samford University’s…” (ie: The official twitter account for Samford University’s School of the Arts)
  5. Accounts must be managed by a full-time Samford employee or current student whose job expectations or duties include social media management and who is advised/overseen or supervised by a Samford employee. For employees, administrative access will be terminated upon the employee’s termination, voluntary leave of employment, or assignment to another job. For students, administrative access will be terminated upon graduation or when the student has concluded their duties of the role which required them to have access to the account.
  6. It is important for students to understand their role and duties as it relates to social media. When an account holder (employee or student) leaves the account or university, the social media manager should be made aware of the departure, be given the most recent login credentials, and the account’s password should be changed and/or administrative access revoked. The account itself should not be deactivated or terminated.
    • In the case of Samford Athletics, the senior associate athletic director for external affairs and Athletics social media manager are responsible for Athletic accounts’ login credentials.
  7. Accounts that are not ran or overseen by a Samford employee and that are created by students must distinguish themselves by clearly stating the account is ran by students, and the account must have its own visual identity.

Rules of Account Management

  1. All social media accounts are required to have new, updated content posted at least three times per week, preferably one new post per day. Note the industry standard for post frequency per channel:
    • Facebook: 3-6 posts per week
    • Twitter: 2-4 tweets per day
    • Instagram: 3 posts per week; preferably once per day, every day
      • If there is no activity on your account for more than one month, we will ask that you shut down your account. In regards to YouTube, the platform defines inactivity as 6 months without posting. Inactive accounts with Samford’s name reflect negatively on the university. A check-in with the social media manager is required if an account becomes inactive before it’s shut down.
  2. All account managers must attend an annual social media workshop at a minimum with the Division of Marketing and Communication to stay up-to-date on social media best practices and university social strategy. Account managers for Samford Athletics will participate in department-specific training.
  3. Accounts should be regularly monitored, and engagement should be addressed in a timely manner, which includes oversight throughout the weekend and after business hours. You must respond to engagement (comments, questions, tweets, direct messages, etc.) in a timely manner, preferably, within 24 hours, or within 48 hours if the inquiry requires outside counsel.
  4. Content on all owned social media accounts must adhere to the following:
  5. Any new hashtags created for events or campaigns should be well thought through. Consult with the social media manager prior to creating any new hashtags.
  6. It is not recommended primary or sub-brand accounts tag individual profiles (individual people or other organizations). When in doubt, ask the social media manager for insight.
  7. All account managers are responsible for the content they share, this includes third party collaborations with sponsorships and partnerships. The content shared from our channels should always align with Samford University’s mission and brand, regardless of supporting another product, company or service.

Professional Use

  1. You should assign no more than 3 administrators to your account—yourself, university’s social media manager and potentially one other employee from your unit. A student or other contributor should only be assigned if the need arises.
  2. While we encourage the involvement of students creating content on our social channels, any content created by a student or designee must be approved by the employee who is the account manager. In the case of real-time events, account managers may designate a student to access the account; however, the account manager is ultimately responsible for all content published to his or her channels.
    • If a student needs access to the account for a limited time (~48 hours) the account manager should grant that student access, and the password should not be shared with the student for short-term use. The account administrator should verify that the student is no longer accessing the account when the immediate need passes.
    • If a student needs to access the account for a longer period of time, the password should be changed once the need has expired, and the account manager should update the social media manager of the password change.

Crisis Communications

In the event of a crisis or campus emergency, account managers must adhere to university communication for protocol and messaging. Messaging during a crisis will be communicated from the executive director of university marketing and communication or the social media manager.

If you are unsure how to handle an issue in social media, contact the social media manager for advice. Defer to the flagship social media channels as appropriate.

Samford University does not allow social media accounts that use the university’s name or branding to be associated with our university in any capacity without first going through the above steps to set up an account with the division of Marketing and Communication.

Questions?

Are you unsure if these guidelines apply to you? Have questions about how to implement them in your unit? Please contact the social media manager.