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Social Media Guidelines and Procedures

Oakland University’s social media presence is used as a strategic communication and customer service tool. OU’s social media channels are designed to be used in support of our overall marketing, and not a separate entity.

OU’s institutional goals directly align with all messaging on social media, and is backed up by survey data, analysis of post metrics and industry best practices. These guidelines consider all needs for content, community engagement and customer service.

Print Oakland University Social Media Procedures

Getting Started

Ask yourself

  • What do I hope to accomplish by starting a social media presence for my school, program or organization?
  • Where is my demographic? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn)
  • Do I have the professional full-time staff and content to sustain a social media presence, or am I an initiative that would benefit more from partnering with University Communications and Marketing through a hashtag or the central accounts? See a list of already established accounts that you could partner with.

Establish Administration

Each social media site is required to have no less than one (1) full-time staff member administrator. Oakland University social media accounts must be affiliated with an email address already established for customer services (example: departments general email, not a personal email address). Passwords and logins should be known and maintained by page administrators, as well as direct leadership.


Once you have committed to dedicate the staff and time necessary to sustain a social media presence and post content on a regular bases, conduct research. Research other organizations on social media networks for ideas on what works and what doesn't. Research the handle and any hashtags you want to use to make sure they aren’t in use already.

Form a Strategy and Set Goals

Write a Content Strategy

All successful social media accounts are backed by a social media strategy that is reviewed annually. Social media strategies are crucial in that they are a road map for how your account(s) are to be be managed, ensuring it can successfully continue should the current social media manager leave OU.

Your social media strategy should include (but not limited to) your purpose, content pillars that reflect the OU brand and take into consideration your own organization's goals, account(s) that will be in use defined, a messaging map and annual goals.

Use this worksheet to help get your social media strategy started.

Build a social media strategy

Contact University Communications and Marketing

Contact your Account Manger

Before creating social media accounts affiliated with Oakland University, you are required to contact your UCM account manager with your social media plan and strategy.

Once your account manager is aware that you are interested in creating a social media presence associated with Oakland University, fill out the OU Social Media Application. This will be your formal request for your social media account(s) to be officially recognized by OU. UCM social media staff will respond to your request in a timely matter with a meeting request.

Complete the social media request form

Meet with UCM Account Manager and UCM Social Media Team

The final step will be a meeting with your UCM account manger and the UCM Social Media Team to review your social media strategy and plan for sustaining the account(s). Bring a written copy of your social media plan and strategy.

After reading through the steps ask yourself again – are you an initiative that would benefit from partnering with UCM through a hashtag or the central accounts? We already have the audience, let us tell your story. If the above steps are not completed University Communications and Marketing cannot support your social media initiatives.

Jump In

Be Alert and Active

Listen to conversations. Consider downloading a free social listening tool such as Hootsuite. For all IT issues and inquiries contact University Technology Services. Engage with comments, answer questions and keep your account fresh with regular posts. Remember that a social media presence is an assumed layer of customer service that you committed to by creating an account.


If you don’t track your efforts, than it didn’t happen. A successful social media presence is dependent on analyzing your efforts, are you getting a return on your investment?

Determine what success means based on your purpose and goals – is it traffic to your website? More students at your events? Better communication with constituents? Determine how you want to measure your ROI, and track it weekly, monthly and annually.

Example of Social Media Analytics Spreadsheet
Guidelines and Best Practices

Our brand is a combination of our logo, mission, identity and the authentic stories we tell. Our brand is our students and alumni experiences, they define Oakland University. Social media is an opportunity to tell these stories.

All social media content, whether built into a campaign or a single post, must align with OU’s institutional priorities and goals. It is a culmination of experiences that make up our story, not a single department or organization within the University.

Social Media Administrators Responsibilities

  • Maintaining active dialogue between your department's social media manager(s) and your UCM account manager. Meet regularly with your account manger and the official Social Media Team.
  • Ensuring best practices are in use based on UCM guidelines and industry best practices.
  • Keeping inventory of account(s), passwords, emails used and contact information of account administrators.
  • Creating engaging content, maintaining and monitoring respective social media sites.
  • Contacting UCM and corresponding leadership in a timely manner to communicate any pending or predicted crisis or emergency situations.
    • Be available in a crisis or emergency situation pertaining to social media (example: classes are cancelled)
  • Deliver timely customer service and respond to questions and inquiries.
  • Responses need to be professional and conversational. Use language that is friendly and encourages follow-up conversation.
    • Good rule of thumb: read every response out loud as if it was going to be read on the 5 o’clock news.
  • Adhere to established content  strategies, goals and objectives established by your organization, UCM and corresponding leadership.
  • OU affiliated accounts are strictly prohibited from:
    • Posting content that violates any city, state, or federal laws, or regulations.
    • Commenting on or posting anything related to legal matters or litigation.
    • Using the University brand or name to endorse private or personal views, opinions or beliefs regarding any, product, private business, or political cause or political candidate.
    • Representing private or personal views, opinions or beliefs as those of the university, or that the university endorses those private or personal views, opinions or beliefs.  Only those officers of the university with specific delegated authority to do so may speak on behalf of the university.

Posting Content

All messaging are required to reflect our personality messaging map in that:

  • Oakland’s relentless determination propels us ever forward
  • Oakland’s experiential mindset empowers possibilities
  • Oakland is an uncompromising force for growth and progress

Create a social media content calendar with planned posts. Content calendars should be planned out for at least a month with your core posts, but understand that “here and now” content does come up, so your social media calendar is fluid.

Content calendars should include post pillar (or purpose/goal), date, platform(s), written content or plan and media associated with the post.

When posting and responding: be authentic, be accurate, be respectful, be positive, encourage open conversation and allow dialogue (yes, even negative).

Example of a social media content calendar

Style Guide

Graphic standards are required with any affiliated Oakland University organization in the digital space, social media is not exempt to this requirement.

Oakland University Brand Guidelines

Work with your account manager to determine what creative assets are necessary when representing Oakland University on your affiliated social media site. Collaborate with your UCM Account Manger well in advance for a creative package that includes social media graphics. This is achievable if you have a well planned out social media strategy and content calendar.

Use of the OU logo without proper approval from University Communications and Marketing is prohibited per policy 488. Using images found through a google image search may infringe upon the copyright and subject you or the university to legal liability. Always use pre-approved and original media to avoid copyright infringement. Work with your UCM Account Manager to ensure proper use of images.

Specific Platform Guidelines


Content is king. Posts need to be strategic in time published, with use of graphic or video if possible, supported by a link or action item. Posts are concise and to the point with a friendly conversational tone.

Post once per day, or 3 - 4 times per week.

Facebook Graphic Best Practices

  • In-Stream Square: 1200 x 1200 px
  • Cover: 1920 x 1080 px
  • Profile Picture: 180 x 180 px, displays at 160 x 160 px on Desktop
  • Cover Photo: 820 x 312 px
  • Work with your UCM Account Manager to determine a graphics strategy.
    • Graphics need to have a strong image supported by a headline that draws interest.
  • Avoid clickbait: Facebook demotes posts that ask users to vote, like, or share.
  • Facebook demotes posts that seem “too promotional” from business that users already follow/like. Pages that post promotional creative can expect their organic distribution to be low.
  • Using text in images: All ads are subject to Facebook’s review process. Images with higher amounts of image text will be shown to fewer people. The majority of your text needs to be in the post copy, image text is meant to be supporting.
  • For any initiative that is important enough, a budget should be set aside for Facebook promotions, as organic distribution is becoming non existent for brands and business pages.


Fast-paced and high-volume micro-blogging service. Posts need to be concise and purposeful since only 280 character per post are allowed.  

Post 2 - 3 times per day, or 9 - 13 times per week.

Twitter Graphic Best Practices

There are fewer rules for the use of graphics on Twitter than Facebook. However, the same UCM guidelines apply:

  • Work with your UCM Account Manager to determine a graphics strategy.
    • Graphics need to have a strong image supported by a headline that draws interest.
  • In-Stream Image: 1024 x 512 px (440 x 220 px minimum)
  • Twitter Header: 1500 x 500 px
  • Twitter Profile Photo: 400 x 400 px, displays 200 x 200
  • Images do not count towards character limit and users are three times more likely to engage with Tweets that contain imagery, try to always use a photo to make your content eye grabbing.
  • Can tweet up to 4 images at one time.
  • What to Tweet as a Business


Mobile app used to capture and share images, using filters to give mobile photos a unique and polished look. Instagram is used to show the beauty and uniqueness of OU. Instagram is not meant for hard news and reminders.

Post 3 - 5 times per week.

Instagram Graphic Best Practices

  • Profile Picture: 110 x 110 px
  • Images do not need to be designed by UCM, rather they are authentic images that tell your story.
  • Photos need to be polished and eye grabbing, use filters.
    • Avoid “designed” images, or images with text. Rather, use the caption as your call to action.
  • Add temporary links to your bio for campaign specific pushes, do not include links in your captions – Instagram does not hyperlink captions, so it appears messy.


The largest social media network for professionals. Best used for alumni news and information, and News at OU and OU Magazine posts.

Post 3 - 5 times per week.

LinkedIn Graphic Tips

  • Personal Profile Image: 400 x 400 px
  • Personal Background Image: 1584 x 396
  • Company Logo Image: 300 x 300
  • Company Cover Image: Between 1536 x 768
  • Banner Image for Company Pages: 646 x 220 (Minimum)


Mobile app used for sharing short video clips, photos and messages that disappear after viewing (or 24 hours). The OU Snapchat is primarily used for stories, where students and alumni have the chance to share their OU story while having access to the app for a day and post to the OU story.

Partner with your UCM account manager to leverage the Oakland University Snapchat account.


Video sharing website that allows users to upload, view, and share streaming video online. OU uses YouTube to house all of our videos including ads, and other projects.

Partner with your UCM account manager to leverage the Oakland University YouTube channel.

Always Up-to-Date Guide to Social Media Image Sizes by Sprout Social


Hashtags are a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign and used to identify messages on a specific topic. If you think your initiative would benefit from a hashtag, work with your UCM Account Manager on a strategy to be officially recognized by the central OU social media accounts.

Current OU Recognized Hashtags

#ThisIsOU – All things Oakland University. Influencers use #ThisIsOU to share OU pride and pictures, promote events and student orgs, show what’s happening in the classroom, and other musings that Golden Grizzlies would appreciate. This is your OU story. You live it, you tell it, and Oakland University shares it.

#WearTheBear – Spirit and pride. Generally associated with athletics related posts.

#FutureGrizzly – Declaring commitment to OU. Primarily used by Undergraduate Admissions.

General – #OaklandU and #OaklandUniversity. Primarily used on Instagram and Twitter.

Oakland University Content Pillars for Reference

If you are considering partnering with the central social media accounts instead of maintaining your own sites, below are the Oakland University social media content pillars. They are used as a guide for determining what content is posted. All posts must be purposeful and efficient, and fit into a category below that aligns with our institutional goals.  

Recruitment - Oakland University cultivates success through high-profile programs and a continual quest for new opportunities. OU appeals to future students who are competitive, pioneering, experiential, determined, tenacious and proud.

  • Undergraduate and graduate recruitment specific posts, academic visit days, events, brag posts

Retention / Student Service - Oakland University stands confident in who we are, creating a firm foundation and steady vision. OU develops strong roots that anchors influence and grows students into an accomplished and eminent leader.

  • Current students, and their experience at OU, reminders, events, brag posts (what’s changing / happening around campus)

Academics and Research - Oakland University is a strong and stable contender effectively pursuing academic excellence, including research. The possibilities to grow and push the boundaries of knowledge is limitless is OU.

  • Research brag points, academic highlights

Spirit / Pride - Oakland University students are proud, proud to be a Golden Grizzly, proud of their work and proud of their roots.

  • Athletics, non-academic events (Homecoming)

Culture of Philanthropy / Community Engagement - Oakland University is a gateway to adventure in Detroit and beyond, opening doors to diverse opportunities and meaningful collaborations with the surrounding community.

  • Community service, community engagement, scholarships, and fundraising

Alumni Engagement - Oakland University’s determination to achieve and help others achieve continues to drive progress and expand our roots and impact, for the betterment of all.

  • Alumni events, alumni spirit, alumni stories