Introduction to Social Media

When used properly, social media can be a valuable addition to a department's communications strategy. Because many employees have expressed an interest in developing and maintaining a social media presence in personal and professional capacities, the Office of University Communications and Marketing has crafted the following introduction to social media. Please read this overview prior to developing your social media presence.

What is social media?
Social media is an internet-based form of communication. Social media platforms allow users to have conversations, share information and create web content. There are many forms of social media, including blogs, micro-blogs, wikis, social networking sites, photo-sharing sites, instant messaging, video-sharing sites, podcasts, widgets, virtual worlds, and more.

What are the benefits of using social media?
Billions of people around the world use social media to share information and make connections. On a personal level, social media allows you to communicate with friends and family, learn new things, develop your interests, and be entertained. On a professional level, you can use social media to broaden your knowledge in a particular field and build your professional network by connecting with other professionals in your industry. At the company level, social media allows you to have a conversation with your audience, gain customer feedback, and elevate your brand.

Should I create social media accounts for my department?
Only university employees who are authorized by their departments may use social networking to conduct university business. Before you decide if you will make an account, review what other USF departments are doing by looking through the USF Social Media Directory. Also, make sure that your department does not already have a social media account on the sites you plan to use. If an account has already been created, do not create another one. Instead, contact the current account manager if you wish to add content.

What social media sites should my department be on?
With so many new social media sites launching each year, deciding which one is right for your department can be overwhelming. It is important to be aware of emerging social media sites, and understand how they could fit into your communications strategy. However, not all social media sites will be conducive to your department's brand or marketing goals.

Before you launch an official account on a new social media site for your department, try it on a personal level. Create an account for yourself, and then use it. Study how other individuals and companies use the site. What type of content is posted on the site? Which posts are the most popular on the site? How often are users and companies posting?

Then, think about how your department would fit in. Just because you can be on a social media site, doesn't necessarily mean you should be. Spreading yourself across too many social media sites could dilute your social strategy, preventing you from using any of them effectively. Instead, focus on the social media sites that allow you to share your content with the appropriate audience.

What social media sites does the University of South Florida use?
While there are many types of social media sites available for use, the University of South Florida has established an official university presence on eight sites: Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube. These university social media accounts are all maintained by the Office of University Communications and Marketing. Below is a summary of each site.

Facebook is a social networking site that allows people from around the world to network with friends, companies and organizations. Departments looking to build overall brand awareness should consider using Facebook. UCM maintains the USF Facebook Page, and frequently posts content, including videos, photo albums, event listings, links to news stories and more.

Foursquare is a location-based social networking site available to users with GPS-enabled mobile devices. Departments who host several events should consider using Foursquare to encourage students to check into those events and venues. UCM maintains the USF Foursquare page, where it posts "tips" and information about the university. In conjunction with several university offices and departments, UCM also maintains official USF Foursquare venues.

Instagram is a social networking site that allows users to share pictures and short videos using their mobile device. UCM maintains the USF Instagram account and posts campus scenes, current events and more.

LinkedIn is a business-related social networking site used mainly for professional networking. Departments looking to connect with their current employees or alumni should consider creating a LinkedIn group. UCM maintains the USF LinkedIn page, and frequently posts updates about job postings, academic programs, campus events, research projects, and more.

Pinterest is a social networking site that allows users to organize and share content using virtual pinboards. With a large female audience, the website offers inspirational and creative content such as recipes, craft projects, fashion, and event planning. UCM maintains the USF Pinterest page, and frequently pins items such as Bulls apparel, campus traditions, residence hall décor, and more.

Tumblr is a blogging site that allows users to post text, images, videos, links, quotes and audio. UCM maintains the USF Tumblr site, and posts USF-related content, including pictures, videos, creative writing and more on a daily basis.

Twitter is a micro-blogging site that allows people to post updates in 140 characters or less. Departments looking to engage their audience at a high frequency and have the resources to respond promptly should consider using Twitter. UCM maintains the USF Twitter Feed, and frequently posts information about campus events, university research, student accomplishments, USF news stories and more.

YouTube is the world's largest video sharing site. Departments with a videographer or high volume of videos should consider creating a YouTube channel to publish their videos. UCM maintains the USF YouTube Channel, where it posts the latest videos about the people, places and programs of USF.

I have decided to create an official social media account for my department. Now what?
Please contact the social media team in University Communications and Marketing for guidelines.

I am a USF employee and want to create a personal social media account. Are there any guidelines?
University Communications and Marketing has developed a set of guidelines for employees and faculty who wish to create individual social media accounts for personal or professional use. Please contact the social media team in University Communications and Marketing for best practices.