Social Media Guidelines

Social media platforms are a powerful tool for promoting your message. There are a plethora of mediums to choose from; University Communications staff can help you select and develop a strategic, sustained presence on those platforms that best connect with your target audience(s) and meet your objectives. As you consider initiating a social media presence for your group, department, or unit, please review Drake’s Social Media Guidelines below:

  1. Introduction to social media
  2. Risks, legal guidelines, and relevant University documents
  3. Guidelines for best practice
  4. Institutional oversight
  5. Creating a Drake University social presence
  6. Posting, tweeting, and commenting as Drake University
  7. Keeping a personal (non-Drake) web presence
  8. How-tos:
    • Facebook
    • Flickr
    • Twitter

Policy contact: Niki Smith, Digital Media Specialist, 515-271-2179,

*Note: These guidelines share best practices for personal use of social media, and use of social media on behalf of Drake University. They are not intended to apply to use of social media for classroom purposes.

1. Introduction to social media

Drake University believes in and takes seriously the rights of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the greater Drake community to communicate openly and engage in the free flow of information. We aim to encourage and protect diverse perspectives while maintaining positive and constructive social media conversations that preserve and enhance the image and reputation of the University.

Social media provide valuable communication channels through which the University can pursue a positive, open sharing of information. Social networking platforms, blogs, applications, games, and other digital communication tools increase transparency among participants and create a tighter-knit, global Drake community.

Students, faculty, staff, and representatives of Drake University and its units are encouraged to participate in this dialogue, which may span many forms of social media on various online and mobile platforms including, but not limited to:

(A directory of official Drake University social media outlets is available here: /)

Although this document attempts to capture as much information and address as much content as possible, the nature of social communications is ever-changing. We will continue to monitor the social media landscape and make necessary adaptations to the Drake University Social Media Communications Policies & Guidelines. Please check back periodically for changes and/or additions.

2. Risks, legal guidelines, and relevant University documents

Like any form of communication, there are risks and responsibilities inherent in the use of social media and digital communications. Improper use can carry legal consequences and damage reputations. Stating and recognizing these risks is not intended to deter use, but to promote and share guidelines that further communications for the entire Drake community.

Following the University’s guidelines will help establish and maintain a social media presence for the University, navigate ethical issues, and balance your personal and professional image on social media. It is important to consider these social media guidelines in conjunction with relevant documents including the faculty manual, student handbook, Drake University statement of principles, Information Technology (IT) Acceptable Use Policy, and the language contained therein.

In the case of improper use of University affiliated social media accounts and personal use that violates guidelines, Drake University, in conjunction with legal counsel, as necessary and appropriate, will address the offense and correct and resolve the situation. Resolution may include disciplinary action as specified under any applicable University or campus policies and procedures.

Reporting process: Behavior by faculty or staff members that may be in violation of this policy or other university policies may be reported confidentially via the “EthicsPoint” website (accessible via the Employee tab in BlueView).

Behavior by students that may be in violation of this policy or other University policies may be reported to Dean of Students Sentwali Bakari,, 515-271-2835.

3. Guidelines for best practice

The following guidelines reflect best practices when using social media:

Observe the golden rule. Engage in friendly, civil, respectful, and constructive conversations.

Interact with others. Social media provides an opportunity for two-way communication.

Be transparent. Always be up-front about your identity. If you are communicating on behalf of the University, be clear about that (and make sure you have the authority to do so). Be every bit as diligent about stating when you are communicating on your own behalf, rather than on behalf of the University. (Drake employees: See “faculty and staff” guidelines below.)

Protect private information. Assume that everything you post online can be made available to the public, even if you attempt to protect your privacy through “closed” or “private” venues of communication. If discussion arises about internal policies, consider directing the conversation to a more private form of communication such as email or phone call. Follow federal, state, and University requirements such as HIPAA (the privacy of individual identifiable health information) and FERPA (the privacy of student education records).

Students: Observe our Code of Student Conduct

Faculty and staff: University policies; Faculty Manual

Be safe. Sharing photos, text, personal information, individual location, and video could compromise your safety and privacy. Shared content has a very long life and may be difficult to remove. Be careful about what you post for your own personal protection and safety and the protection and safety of the campus community.

For more information on Drake University’s social media communication and maintaining a personal web presence, please see the “faculty and staff” section below.

4. Institutional oversight

Drake University’s Office of University Communications manages and administers the University’s institutional social networking accounts and official profiles.

A directory of official Drake University social media outlets is available here: This directory frequently evolves as the University explores and implements new platforms and dissolves its presence on other platforms.

Faculty and staff beyond the Office of University Communications with responsibilities for administering social networking accounts in Drake’s name should make themselves known to the Office of University Communications. This helps ensure consistent messages and practices and means the office can provide you with additional information and resources. (The primary point of contact is Niki Smith, digital media specialist, at or 515-271-2179.)

Drake University reserves the right to monitor its institutional entities online, including affiliated Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, other social media profiles, official blogs, and comment boards associated with Drake University. The University also reserves the right to quell activity that inhibits safe and constructive conversation. Such activity may include hateful or threatening remarks (see the relevant code of conduct, policies, and manual on acceptable discourse); excessive posting or “spamming;” “cyberbullying;” or use of language that violates University policies. The Office of University Communications reserves the right to remove inappropriate posts and ban or block disruptive users.

“Spamming” is defined as, “sending irrelevant or inappropriate messages on the internet to a large number of recipients.”

“Cyberbullying” is defined by the University as, “Using social networking or other internet sites for the purpose of exhibiting, distributing, posting, or communicating matter in any form (text, image, audio, or video) that intimidates, harasses, or is otherwise intended to harm, insult, or humiliate another, or that disrupts or prevents a safe educational or working environment.

The Office of University Communications also reserves the right to screen any and all submitted content before posting to institutional social media entities. The University reserves the right to re-publish, distribute, or otherwise reuse any content posted on our institutional social media sites.

5. Creating a Drake University social presence

Develop a strategy. This is the single most important step in planning and implementing a successful social media presence. Know the audience(s) that you will reach with your new efforts. Set realistic goals. Identify the content that will be valuable to your audience(s) and enhance the image and reputation of your department/unit and of the University. Assign one or more full-time employees to oversee the page and ensure that consistent, quality content is shared. Students should be allowed to post on behalf of the University only with direct staff supervision. DO NOT allow your social presence to lapse into inactivity—try to post once a week, at a minimum, to each of your social media accounts.

Check in with us. If your supervisor has authorized you to create a new social media presence on behalf of Drake University, contact the Office of University Communications. Consultation services on strategy, resources, and best practices are available. The office will also provide you with logos and/or other graphics you may need, as applicable, to make your presence look and feel professional.

Err on the side of open membership. Most of Drake’s social communities benefit from open membership, as defined by allowing users to freely join the community without prior screening or authorization. Openness promotes a diversity of opinion and breadth of participation. Prepare for an open community to attract the attention of students, alumni, faculty members, and other members of Drake and the broader community.

Consider a closed community (such as closed Facebook group) when members are part of a specific University class, study abroad experience, or other affiliation that would not benefit from participation from outside sources. Membership can be restricted to authorized participants—but always behave as if content you publish online can, and will, be made available to a broader distribution.

Need technical help? See subsections below on creating a Facebook fan page, Twitter feed, Flickr feed, Pinterest board, etc. And always check in with University Communications first for resources, ideas, and best practices.

6. Posting, tweeting, and commenting on behalf of Drake University

Be authorized. Don’t post or comment as if you are a representative of Drake University or one of its institutional units, departments, or entities unless you are authorized by the Office of University Communications to do so.

Be a human being. You need a real, live person to monitor comments, post content, and engage with users. Otherwise, your presence will become the Wild West—or a ghost town. Posting web articles directly to Facebook or Twitter, particularly through RSS feeds or other automated tools, is not a viable social media strategy. People engage with relevant, contextualized content; they ignore robots. Students should be allowed to post on behalf of the University only with direct staff supervision.

Be a moral compass. Never display or promote content that violates University policies, e.g., depicts underage drinking, harassment, uncivil behavior, or discrimination. Do not use official Drake social media platforms to endorse or oppose political candidates, ballot initiatives, pending or approved legislation, or politically charged discussions. Use of University resources for political purposes will jeopardize Drake’s IRS 501 (c) (3) status. The role of the University is to promote education and awareness, not a specific point-of-view or course of action. Consult with the Office of University Communications (Niki Smith, digital media specialist, 515-271-2179, if you have questions about displaying potentially political, offensive, disruptive, or polarizing material.

Listen first. Listen carefully to what is being said. Investigate accuracy prior to responding.

Be responsive. When appropriate, address issues that arise from the community—even if your initial response expresses that you are gathering more information and will get back in touch. Be careful, though, not to violate privacy laws or say anything that will harm the image and reputation of your unit and/or the University as a whole.

Verify content. Ensure the content that you and others share is accurate, current, and authentic. Reserve the right to remove content that is plagiarized and/or violates copyright restrictions. Beware of hoaxes and misinformation.

Be serious and factual. Jokes, sarcasm, and pranks are prone to misinterpretation. When acting on behalf of a University entity, avoid engaging in controversial discussions. 

Direct media queries to the Office of University Communications. If you are contacted by a member of the media about a posting or comment on a social networking site, or if a reporter asks general questions about Drake University’s official activities, events, staff, faculty, or students via social media, the University asks you to immediately contact Jarad Bernstein, director of public relations and media relations ( or 515-271-3119), who will be prepared to handle the response.

Allow constructive criticism from the community, but remove comments that are libelous, obscene, or hateful. If you need a second opinion on whether or not comments reach this threshold, please contact the Office of University Communications (Niki Smith, digital media specialist, 515-271-2179,

Monitor and react appropriately. Remove comments, photos, video, posts, links that contain profanity, sell or promote products, are spam or otherwise contain unlawful, threatening, harassing, bullying, slanderous, or hateful content. If you need a second opinion on whether or not comments reach this threshold and/or are in violation of University policies, codes of conduct or manuals, please contact the Office of University Communications (Niki Smith, Digital Media Specialist, 515-271-2179,

Follow Drake University rules. Communicate only in a manner that is in accordance with Drake University policies. Respect the members of our community as well as proprietary information, intellectual property, privacy, copyrights, and patents.

Source content. Provide a direct link to the original post and include online references to the author. Make changes to the original post only when necessary to make corrections and preserve the original content by using strikethrough to the changed content.

7. Keeping a personal (non-Drake) web presence:

Engage. Don’t be afraid to utilize social media. These tools may help you increase your outreach for personal and professional endeavors.

Be transparent. You may identify yourself on personal web pages as an employee of Drake University, but be clear about when you are speaking on behalf of Drake University (if you hold this designation, as determined by the Office of University Communications) and when you are speaking as a private individual or a member of the community. Remember: Comments you make using personal accounts may be perceived as a reflection on your employer and your career, regardless of your intent.

When speaking as a private individual, consider including a disclaimer on your site. We suggest you include a sentence similar to this:
“The views expressed on this [blog, website] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Drake University.”

Do not use the Drake logo and other registered trademarks for your personal web site. You need prior authorization from the Office of University Communications.

8. HOW-TOs:

a. Creating a Facebook fan page:

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with nearly 1 billion registered users as of September 2012. Fan pages are public profiles for use by businesses, nonprofit organizations, and other groups that allow Facebook users to follow updates and interact with one another. Follow these simple steps to start a Facebook fan page for a University-related presence.

  1. Make sure you have a strategy and a plan for ensuring consistent, quality content and active monitoring and response.
  2. Check with the Office of University Communications for guidance and to ensure consistency of visual and editorial content among Drake presences.
  3. Visit
  4. Select the type of organization with which you’re affiliated. For University departments and programs, consider “Education” in the drop-down menu for “Company, Organization, or Institution.”
  5. Enter the name of your fan page. You cannot change this later without deleting and re-creating the page.
    1. Choosing a name
      1. Be sure to include “Drake University”
      2. Be concise but informative. Don’t use acronyms—community members may not be familiar with them.
  6. Upload a profile picture for your fan page. This should be square—at least 180 pixels wide and 180 pixels tall.
  7. Upload a cover image for your fan page. This should be a horizontally-oriented image 815 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall.

b. Creating a Flickr account:

Flickr is a public, electronic photo gallery used to showcase the activities of your department or program.

A free Flickr account provides you with one Terabyte of space, with up to 200MB per image. See all of the offerings of a free account at

A paid, or Pro, Flickr account is $24.95 a year and provides unlimited uploads (with up to 200 MB per photo), ad-free browsing, sharing capabilities on desktop and mobile, and the ability to view stats on your account. You can go Pro at

  1. Make sure you have a strategy in place with clearly defined goals and a plan for ensuring consistent, quality content and active monitoring and response.
  2. Check in with the Office of University Communications for guidance and to ensure consistency of visual and editorial content among Drake presences.
  3. Visit and click the “Sign Up” link in the upper left-hand corner to begin the process.
  4. Flickr requires a Yahoo! credential. The Office of University Communications suggests using a group account that identifies your department or program and can be accessed by all personnel.
    1. Examples:;
  5. Once you’ve set up your Flickr account, visit and log in with your user name and password.
  6. Your account screen name should clearly identify your organization. This screen name will display at the top of the page when visitors go to your Flickr page.
  7. Begin adding photos using the “Upload” button. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
    1. Strive for quality over quantity. Only upload the best photos, and don’t upload too many.
    2. Use the sets and collections features to organize your photos. Tag photos to make them easier for your audience to find.
    3. If your department or program has a website, make sure to display a link to your Flickr account.
      1. You can also include a badge that will display your most recently posted photos (build your badge at
    4. Monitor comments on photos daily. Encourage two-way communication by responding to comments. Delete comments that you deem vulgar or may include personal attacks or racial/other slurs (see guidelines in section 6 above). Be open to criticism on photos, and do not delete those critical comments—rather, respond to the critical remarks directly with additional information or clarification.
    5. Make sure that you own photos that you upload or have permission from the photographer. Don’t post other people’s photos without permission.

c. Creating a Twitter account

Twitter is a platform for concise discussion and interaction. Share information about your department or program, but also share information from other sources and engage with followers by asking questions or responding to their tweets. All updates to Twitter are made in 140 characters or less.

  1. Make sure you have a strategy in place with clearly defined goals and a plan for ensuring consistent, quality content and active monitoring and response.
    1. Try to make a list of those you will be following such as other Drake accounts, accounts for other programs and people related to your field, and individuals who are tweeting about keywords relevant to your academic, research, or professional interests.
    2. Remember to read, retweet, and respond. The goal isn’t just to share content, but to engage in online conversations.
  2. Check in with the Office of University Communications for guidance and to ensure consistency of visual and editorial content among Drake presences.
  3. Visit and click “Sign up for Twitter”
  4. Where it says to enter “Name,” give the name of your department or program.
    1. Choosing a username—this will be your Twitter identity for when tweeting content and will identify you when responding to tweets. The username should include your department or program name and include your Drake affiliation.
      1. Examples: “@DrakeUniversity,” “@DrakeAlumni,” “@DUBulldogs”
      2. If you have a Facebook account for your department or program, try to make that name and your Twitter username the same or as close as possible.
  5. A general email account should be used through which multiple users will have access, rather than a personal email address.
  6. Fill out the “settings” information. For your one-line bio, briefly describe your department or program and include a link to your website and Facebook page, as appropriate.
  7. For your profile picture, the Office of University Communications will help you select a high-resolution photo or logo that is customized for your department or program but will be cohesive with all Drake social media visual representations. Per Twitter, your profile picture's file size needs to be no more than 700kb.  The maximum display size for your profile picture Is 128 pixels wide by 128 pixels high. Don’t worry about what this means—the Office of University Communications can help you meet these guidelines.
  8. Some simple and free apps that make monitoring and updating your Twitter account easier include TweetDeck and HootSuite. Explore these different platforms to decide whether your department or program would like to utilize them. The Office of University Communications can aid in setting up your account through these services and provide you with a tutorial on each.
  9. Twitter language defined:
    1. Reply—Respond to someone else’s tweet(s). The reply sends directly to the person and shows on your Twitter feed, or screen.
    2. Retweet (“RT”)—A way to share someone else’s tweet on your Twitter screen. This is the most popular way to engage with others in the Twitter community.
    3. Modified Tweet (“MT”)—Like a retweet, but a portion of the tweet has been modified from its original version.
    4. URL Shortener—These are free online services that will take a full URL, or website link, and reduce it to a few characters, which is important when you have a limit of 140 characters. Clicking on the shortened link will still take your viewers to the intended website. Examples include, tinyurl, and
    5. Hashtags—These are keywords used in a post prefaced with the # symbol. These keywords can be searched by Twitter users to find tweets on specific topics like higher education (#highered).
    6. Direct Message—A way to respond and communicate with others in the Twitter community in a private manner. Consider this the equivalent of an email. In theory only you and the recipient can see the text. Like an email, remember that content can always be shared by either party so proceed with caution.