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Northwestern Engineering Social Media Guide

Confused about how to promote your office or department via social media? The Northwestern Engineering social media guide offers step-by-step instructions, helpful hints, and best practices regarding the most popular platforms.

Social Media Guidelines for Faculty, Staff, and Students

The McCormick School of Engineering encourages faculty, staff, and students to take advantage of social media to promote events, research news, and other information, with the understanding that such activity is representative of the school. The following guidelines outline what is expected of any Northwestern Engineering-affiliated accounts and/or messages, and offer best practices for using these platforms.

  1. Know NU policies. The NUIT “Acceptable Use” Policy applies if you are a member of the Northwestern community and/or user of the University network.
  2. Link back to your sources. Make sure any content you post includes proper attribution to its creator; linking to others’ work is common courtesy in the social media world. This applies to text and multimedia content alike.
  3. Identify your affiliations. Make sure to accurately state your affiliation with Northwestern Engineering in any social media profiles which you will be using to represent the school in any capacity. Anonymous accounts/pseudonyms are discouraged.
  4. Use disclaimers. While your social media account may be affiliated with Northwestern Engineering, it must be made clear that the postings on this account do not directly reflect the views and opinions of Northwestern Engineering. Include a disclaimer somewhere on your page if possible. Remember that you are ultimately responsible for posts from an account under your name.
  5. Think before you post. Aim to add value to the conversation, rather than just adding to the “noise.” Consider what you’re going to post, why it’s useful information, and how it will be received by the audience (which could be anyone). If you have questions about what is appropriate to post (especially when it comes to potentially private information), ask your manager or contact McCormick Marketing & Communications.
  6. Respect others. While controversial posts may boost traffic and conversation, they can also reflect poorly on both you and the school. If you wouldn’t say something in “real life,” you probably shouldn’t say it in an online forum; this includes racial and ethnic slurs, personal insults and obscenities. Keep in mind, also, that sarcasm does not come across particularly well online.
  7. Be transparent. If you make a mistake in a post, don’t just delete it. It is common practice in social media to correct mistakes publicly, not least because the original post may already have been shared by other users. Take advantage of the speed of social media to reverse the flow of misinformation quickly.
  8. Avoid spamming. Using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter simply as automated news feeds is discouraged. Whenever possible, facilitate interaction with your followers by asking questions and responding to others’ posts. Also, keep in mind that while consistent posting is crucial for building and maintaining an audience, posting too frequently can turn off existing followers.
  9. Plan ahead. When you sign up for a social media account, you are making a commitment to post regularly and to interact with your audience. Consider whether you have enough (and the right kind of) content, determine who will be responsible for maintaining the account(s), and know what you want to accomplish with your campaign. An account that goes idle after a few posts looks worse than no account at all.

Should you have questions about appropriate content, branding, account creation, or other issues, please contact the McCormick marketing office.