Social Media Field Guide

Nine platforms, a 150,000+ audience—and growth as exponential as digital transformation itself. Michigan Tech social media serves two primary functions: to boost the University's reputation and recruit future Huskies.

We do that by telling our stories: the research, the science, and the experiences that no other institution can tell. 

Centered on Tech’s core values, Michigan Tech’s main accounts are complemented by social media platforms launched by our Colleges, departments, organizations, and individuals who join us in communicating Michigan Tech voices, opportunities, and experiences to the world.

Best Practices

Set yourself up for success with a strategic (and realistic) social media plan and these guidelines:

Getting Started

What’s the primary goal for your platform? When you know the answer, you can identify your audience and develop a strategy that guides what and how you post to your platform. When you’re ready to launch your platform:

  • Email us at social@mtu.edu with any questions and to let us know (so we can follow!).       
  • Get your customized social media icon (email social @mtu.edu).
  • Head to the MTU Social Networks page when your account is up and hit the Submit Your Account button in the right-side navigation to list it. While you’re there, check out other University accounts to connect and get inspiration.
  • Check out the running list of Michigan Tech hashtags.
  • Explore resources for photos and videos.

You Need a Strategy

Social media is about relationships and connections. Like to be liked and follow to be followed. 

  • Share content and tag other accounts including industry, funding, and research partners, other departments and Colleges, and campus or community organizations.
  • Give credit when sharing and get permission from personal social media accounts before sharing.
  • Collaborate with other social media account administrators on and off campus for fresh and impactful posts and connections, like when Michigan Tech teams up with the Keweenaw Convention and Visitors Bureau to share the beauty, recreation and history in our backyard.
  • Focus on quality over quantity. Set your goal at an achievable number of posts per week (is daily really doable or will two to three times a week work better?). Because you know who your audience is—the ideal people you want to reach—it’s easier to decide what kind of content you want to post and when.
  • Use post programming tools like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to help with workflow.
  • Put hashtags in your posts on platforms that use them, including Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. It’s an easy way to be part of larger conversations because hashtags are searchable on these platforms. Check out our list of MTU hashtags—and keep an eye out for occasional updates.
  • Compose posts with strong, clear, present-tense words and get to the point in the first 100 characters. Avoid scientific jargon and poster presentation language or audiences, particularly prospective students, will scroll on by.

What is the PESO Model?

Michigan Tech’s University Marketing and Communications (UMC) social media team is led by writers and editors who also produce the stories that appear in state, regional, national, and worldwide media and on Michigan Tech’s own news portal. We use the PESO model to guide our strategy. 

P: Paid Media

Paid media is marketing and advertising, including digital ads. Media that’s paid for is strategically written, scheduled, and placed to drive traffic to specific pages. Paid media is used by Admissions as well as departments across campus. Learn more about paid marketing and digital marketing terminology via our digital services team. We should note, paid media is not the number-one way to reach our audiences. But EOSP doesn’t have the same ring to it as PESO.

E: Earned Media

Earned media puts Michigan Tech in the headlines. It’s recognition in external publications and worldwide circles that makes people aware of the University and its accomplishments. Earned media is press from outside organizations and from others who hear about Tech and share the news, from magazines to op-eds to prime time TV news segments. Michigan Tech’s reputation is bolstered when journalists and influencers in industry, science, engineering and other disciplines share links to our more than 12,000 webpages and when they write about us—from research breakthroughs and technology innovation to athletic accomplishments.

S: Shared Media

Shared media is social media. It’s the stories we post about Michigan Tech that get people talking and sharing themselves—and that often earn media attention. Shared media gets our news and research stories out to wider audiences. We use shared media to drive researcher altmetrics up and steer traffic to our News and Unscripted stories as well as strong, distinctive, and relevant content on other University webpages.

O: Owned Media

Our media is owned media. Michigan Tech’s webpages, news and magazine stories, Unscripted blogs—from departmental blogs to landing pages, and our home page, the content we have developed that lives on the University website is important, and we work hard to get it in front of the people we want to reach. Our goal is to increase page views, scroll depth, reader interaction (like going to links embedded in the story or reading related stories) and Michigan Tech News subscribers who get our weekly digest in their inboxes.

What is the Michigan Tech Brand and How Does it Inform Our Social Media?

Michigan Tech's brand is gritty. We build grids, and go off the grid. We put theory into practice. For real. And that’s our brand. Honest. Real. If a message falls outside our brand promises— real people, opportunities, and experiences—it's a story that is probably not worth telling.

You can check out UMC’s brand guide for more about the Michigan Tech brand, logo guidelines, color palettes—everything you need to be on brand and aligned with University messaging.

You can contact social@mtu.edu for custom logo requests.

Copyright and How to Credit

Give credit where credit is due. If you share an image, video or graphic from another account, be sure to credit the account. We like to use the camera with flash emoji followed by “:Photo by [account or individual’s name].”

Share/repost directly from Michigan Tech’s social media channels to encourage brand visibility and retain credit and copyright of the original imagery.

Hunting for Content?

Our target audiences are prospective students, alumni, journalists, and research partners. What content appeals to your audience?

Editorial Style Guide

  • Work smarter, not harder! We recommend you develop a file of evergreen content to have on hand. Examples: faculty or student testimonials, campus vista shots, alumni news (particularly if you can share from an industry partner) or a program page.
  • Mine your existing site and other assets, including our YouTube and yours.
  • Update content regularly, from bios to program pages and course listings.
  • Share your pages and ours—there are more than 12,000 on the Michigan Tech website and our analytics show that most visitors don't do a deep dive. Uncover the hidden gems.
  • Post Michigan Tech News, Unscripted or magazine articles relevant to your unit.
  • Reshare older posts for Flashback Fridays and Throwback Thursdays—or for reunions and other Tech traditions like Winter Carnival.
  • Get the word out on deadlines and opportunities (financial aid, scholarships, etc.)

Content buckets to consider:

  • Academics
  • Alumni
  • Athletics
  • Campus Life
  • Diversity
  • Events
  • Honors and rankings
  • K-12 outreach
  • Location
  • Research
  • Scenery
  • User Content (shared from students/faculty/other departments or colleges accounts)
  • Weather

Crisis Communication and Planning

Contact UMC immediately if it appears a crisis is arising.

  • Be transparent, but on message. Sometimes less is more.
  • Create and maintain an updated list of contact information for leadership, social media managers, and UMC.
  • Maintain a file of current logins for quick access to all profiles. One staff member should be responsible for keeping log-in documentation up to date.
  • Evaluate pre-scheduled posts. How does the crisis affect them? Reschedule or edit messages as appropriate.
  • Michigan Tech maintains a relationship with a Michigan PR firm that may be able to assist with social media monitoring and listening in crisis situations. Contact UMC for more information.

Policies

Social media is supposed to be fun, informative, and connective. But administrating social media platforms at Michigan Tech is also a serious responsibility. It requires a pre-planned strategy, sensitivity to current issues, and continual vigilance. 

Social media isn’t a simple side duty that can be turned over to a single person like an unsupervised student intern. It’s essential to have different eyes on your posts before and after they go up, to properly monitor posted content and to respond genuinely, thoughtfully, and in alignment with University policies and standards—especially when difficult situations arise.

Pro tip: what starts on social media doesn’t have to stay there. Direct, private, personal messages can change conversations, offer resources, and solve issues. Use DMs to offer additional support or resources or to take the conversation off the platform by offering email or phone contacts if appropriate. 

Prepared Statements You Can Share on General Issues

Responding to allegations related to offensive speech on social media.

"While we strongly support free speech on campus, Michigan Tech does not condone hate speech, acts of violence, hatred, and racism. From ablesim and anti-semitism to white supremacy and xenophobia, we do not welcome such behavior on our campus. This directly opposes our work in creating a just, equitable and diverse community of students and scholars."

Responding to comments when mis- or disinformation has been posted on your page, either publicly or in direct messaging.

“As a public research university, it's our mission and responsibility to relay factual, science-based, research-backed information of interest to our community. This includes interactions on social media. For that reason, comments that contain outdated or unsubstantiated information will be deleted. A reminder of our general policy is posted on our page: Stay on topic, respect others, and avoid personal attacks, abusive language, and profanity.”

Responding to allegations of sexual assault.

“Michigan Tech takes allegations of sexual assault very seriously. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the University's Title IX Coordinator at 906-487-3310 or titleix@mtu.edu. You may also notify Michigan Tech Public Safety at 906-487-2216 (always dial 911 for emergencies) or mtu.edu/publicsafety.”

Engagement Guidelines (the Legal Dos and Don’ts)

Michigan Tech is a publicly funded university that must adhere to certain guidelines to protect freedom of speech. You should not delete comments unless they include defamatory, obscene, threatening, discriminatory, or harassing language, or are duplicate comments by the same or multiple users. If comments are identical, delete all but the first instance. 

Before you delete, take a screenshot.

Records are important if there is a question about the post later. Michigan Tech’s social media team stores their screenshots in a dedicated app channel. You should have a central storage spot, too.

If someone is using unprotected speech or posting the same comment repeatedly, take screenshots and reach out to the UMC social media team or the office of the general counsel for assistance.

Other Important Don’ts 

  • Don’t use profanity filters or word “blacklists.”
  • Don’t disclose confidential information. If you are not sure whether certain information is confidential, contact the general counsel’s office.
  • Don’t advocate for illegal activity.
  • Don’t violate copyrights or trademarks.
  • Don’t advertise or promote commercial products, services, entities, or individuals.
  • Don’t endorse or oppose any person campaigning for political office or any ballot proposal.

Issuing Statements on Social Media

There is a difference between making a statement on your personal account, as an individual, and posting a statement on a University account. University departments, institutions, and units should not make political statements, nor should University employees make political statements when speaking for the University. That’s because statements on University department and institution sites may reasonably be construed to be the position of Michigan Tech, or, at a minimum, a position supported by Michigan Tech on these issues. The decision of whether to take a position on such issues is reserved for senior administration and the MTU Board of Trustees. These are not decisions that departments, institutions, or faculty may make on their own. 

To be clear, individuals within the institution absolutely have the right to make such a statement individually and from their personal perspective. In doing so, it need only be clear that they are making the statement personally, not within their role at Michigan Tech. 

For a quick but complete overview of policies and procedures you need to have in place for your accounts, we like Campus Sonar’s 5 Essential Documents to Create a Strategic Social Media Program, first presented at the 2020 HighEdWeb Association conference (another great resource for digital marketers on campus).

Metrics and Analytics

Choose Metrics That Matter

Your goals should align with campus outcomes, not just social media metrics that are generated by the companies that own the platform to drive their own agendas. While it’s often suggested that “likes” and impressions are effective metrics to measure, it’s more important to measure engagement. Posts that are shared and posts that get  comments are a better measure of whether you’re engaging with your ideal audience.

Decide What Analytics You’ll Track

Although each platform offers its own and ever-changing analytic tools, the most comprehensive tracking options are available on Google Analytics. It’s a big-time investment. Deciding where you’ll focus your efforts and how you’ll measure them—as well as the time you have available for analysis—will dictate your choices.

Remember, one of the best social media metrics you have available isn’t on a graph or pie chart. When you talk to prospective and current students and their families, ask where they heard about you.

Social Media Platforms

When Michigan Tech began actively growing its social media presence, Facebook was still somewhat popular with people under 30 and TikTok was merely the sound a clock makes. The social landscape continues to change exponentially.

Social Media Directory

Keep up with the latest trends from reliable sources like Pew Research, which frequently tracks and reports who’s using social media, where, and how. There are also a few constants in mind that we hope will be reassuring: 

  • Each platform has a distinct personality and audience. Knowing that helps you share content AND decide where you’ll have a presence to reach your ideal audience. Which brings us to the next constant …
  • You can’t do it all and that’s OK. You don’t need to be on every platform. We’ve included overviews and tips to help you decide where you can put consistent, quality content while managing all the other things you do to communicate our work, our goals, and the accomplishments of Huskies at Michigan Tech.
  • When it comes to content, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You can bring existing photos and webpages to new audiences, set Google Alerts, and share news from other internal and external accounts. 

Facebook

Michigan Tech's Facebook, where we highlight the best of Michigan Tech to an age 40+ audience who responds to Husky tales of heart, tenacity, innovation, and contribution to the greater good. Parents (and grands) are the No. 1 audience, followed by alumni, and current students. Prospective students don’t often engage. 

  • Try a fact, fragment, quote, or question to lead off your two-to-three sentence post and get to your point in the first 125 characters. Share compelling imagery and a url that leads the audiences to more information.
  • Don’t neglect your About section. Take time to craft a strong, clearly worded description that offers details specific to Michigan Tech.

Facebook Live Tips

Twitter

We most frequently engage with Science Twitter, research partners and organizations, and the nerds of the world.

  • Posts have a 280-character limit.
  • Two to four hashtags and tagging others in posts are encouraged.
  • Use camel case, capping the first letter of each word in the hashtag to be more accessible. (#CamelCase, not #alllowercase or #ALLUPPERCASE)
  • If you’re debating between similar hashtags, put them into Twitter’s search bar to see what’s more common.

Live Tweets Tips

Instagram

We tell Michigan Tech’s story in photos and video, connecting with 18-to-35 year-olds as well as older audiences on this rapidly growing platform. We typically share seven to 11 hashtags, including #michigantech (which we track to find other posts from Husky Nation).

We may simply use a few words when sharing campus scenery that speaks for itself, a few sentences of personal narrative, or describe the impact of the University’s latest research in a few paragraphs. No matter how long, our words are active, direct, and authentic—the Michigan Tech brand. 

  • You can share alternate photo(s) for your Instagram stories and tag other departments who might want to post your story to their accounts. One huge don’t: posting dead urls in stories or posts. If the link can’t be activated, it doesn’t have a place on your Instagram. Include it in your bio or tell folks where to find what you’re directing them to. 
  • You can use mainstream as well as specific hashtags, i.e. #conservation and #WorldWaterDay. Instagram’s search bar will offer up the most popular tags. When in doubt, go simple: #campus #flowers, vs. #campusflowers
  • Use #michigantech so we can find you, and geotag the location, for example, the lab where research was done. If the location is University-wide, geotag Michigan Tech.

Michigan Tech Instagram stories also feature student takeovers, which are arranged individually. For more info, email social@mtu.edu

Instagram Live Tips

LinkedIn

If Facebook is a cozy blanket and Instagram is a sunset, LinkedIn is the business suit you don for a job interview. The University’s LinkedIn shows what it’s like to live and work at Michigan Tech (and play in the Keweenaw) and how our researchers and graduates impact the world.

Because Michigan Tech itself has such a large LinkedIn following, in the past we have not recommended that individual University units try to establish their own LinkedIns but rather have individual professionals with accounts tag us so that we can share their posts. However, the platform is growing in popularity in part because of its digital marketing capabilities. We’re happy to share posts from those accounts, too. Just @ us! 

  • Name-dropping is a thing on LinkedIn. We tag newsmakers, including University researchers, their team members, internal and external professional organizations, corporate partners, government and civic organizations on LinkedIn. You should, too, if you decide to have a presence on this platform.
  • As with all platforms, a fact, fragment, quote, or question that gets to the point in the first 125 characters makes for a strong post. 

Snapchat

Michigan Tech Snapchat is all about Husky takeovers. From Study Abroad to our MTU EMTs in training to Blue Key snapping Winter Carnival highlights (with our custom Carnival filters), arranging for a Snapchat takeover is an easy and accessible way for students and campus organizations to share projects, events, and whatever cool activities they’re into at Michigan Tech.

Get started, including how to sign up and tips to make your Snapchat fun and interactive. 

TikTok

TikTok is an app for sharing short form videos. The video size for TikTok matches the height of a standard smartphone 9:16 or 1080x1920, like on Instagram Stories or Snapchat. You navigate through the app by scrolling up and down "in the feed."

The MTU social media team recommends collaboration with the MTU TikTok account instead of creating your own TikTok account. Students, faculty, and staff that are interested in being on TikTok fill out the TikTok Video Creation form to be featured on MTU’s TikTok account.

YouTube

It’s the second largest search engine in the world—so of course, the University maintains a YouTube presence. Subscribe to Michigan Tech YouTube to receive our latest student stories, Husky vlogs, testimonials, lab tours, and other footage to share on your platforms. If you have video we might be interested in, let us know! 

Some individual University units have their own YouTube channels, particularly as a place to house those that are shared on blogs, via our CMS (content management system) or in other communications. It can be fun to share vintage videos for Throwback Thursdays, Flashback Fridays, or even Alumni Reunion. 

Flickr

Michigan Tech Flickr offers thousands of shareable, downloadable photos taken by University Marketing and Communications Photo Services and others. This resource is a must for any University unit with a social media account.   

Pinterest

It’s been said that nearly every college student has a Pinterest board—and these virtual bulletin boards are equally popular in the design world. Michigan Tech’s curated Pinterest boards range from study tips to places to visit in the Keweenaw. In keeping with our own advice that we can’t do it all, Michigan Tech Pinterest is not one of our most active social media accounts. But who knows what the future holds for this platform?

Pinterest is a good example, as is Michigan Tech TikTok, in the importance of securing domain names. If there is a possibility that you’ll be establishing a social media account on a platform where you’re not yet active, it may be worth it to take the necessary steps to secure your name. It can also prevent others from unofficially co-opting your name for parody or other unauthorized accounts.   

Contact

Did you know we offer department-level or one-on-one social media training? To contact us please email us at social@mtu.edu. University Marketing and Communications also hosts Digital Marketers, a group for digital platform managers across campus that meets every other month. The campus community is invited to join by subscribing to our Digital Marketing email list.

Social Media Blog