Social Media Practices

One of our goals is to maximize engagement and promote VCUarts. To do so, we use voice + tone consistent with our brand, both across and within social platforms.

Some useful tools to keep organized on social media:
Buffer (an app that can be loaded with tweets and push out automatically based on your needs)
Bit.ly (a URL shorten that tracks how many people have clicked it)
– There are other tools (Trello, HootSuiteOw.ly, TweetDeck…) but these are our favorites.

Don’t know the difference between a Facebook Page and a Facebook Group? Are you deciding how often you need to post? Be sure to ask us for help! If you have questions, if you need a more thorough explanation or if you just want to talk social with us, give us a shout.

VCUarts Communications Office
Lindsay Parnell
Social Media Strategist
parnelllj@vcu.edu

Frequency

The ability to post consistently is important to social media success. While you may not need to post every day, depending on the social network, you must be able to continuously support the efforts of your account.

Take advantage of the opportunity to post timely content. Capitalize on the moment to post in real-time with posts from shows, students working in the studio, events, and lectures sponsored by your department. ex) posting images of installing a show with the details of the opening could bring out more people

Frequency will vary by department. However, units should post relatively often to ensure subscribers stay engaged.

As a benchmark, the main VCUarts channel aims to post on:

  • Instagram: daily
  • Twitter: 1–3 times/day, unless doing a takeover or covering an event
  • Facebook: daily

For departments we recommend:

  • Instagram: 3–5 times/week
  • Twitter: 3–5 times/week
  • Facebook: 2–3 times/week

Participate in platform-wide posts like Throwback Thursday (#tbt), Flashback Friday (#fbf), Facilities Friday (#facilitiesfriday) and Student Work Wednesday (#vcuartswork)

By engaging in the most recognized or channel-promoted hashtags, you will gain traction on your channels and gain followers/subscribers.

What does success look like?

If you have had a social media page for over a year and have a low number of likes or haven’t posted at least 8 times a month, you should consider deleting these accounts. Dead or inactive accounts reflects negatively on VCUarts. Social media is constant, you must be ready to provided content to your audience. If you would like to delete your account, please contact the Communications Office for assistance. All content must be archived, as per VCU policy.

Because we have a wider reach with our channels, we can get your message out to more than the smaller audience on your departmental channel.

We are happy to post your departmental content on the main VCUarts channels, even if your department that has active accounts.

Monitoring your channels

While posting frequently is one of the main goals, it is also very important to monitor those posts. Use your discretion when it comes to negative and appropriate comments. Re-directing negative comments to a private conversation to address the issue is always encouraged. Providing a good contact email is often an option. If you feel a comment puts anyone at risk, please remove it.

If you feel the situation is out of your hands, please contact Suzanne Silitch, sasilitch@vcu.edu

Be mindful of others’ work.
Never disclose information that is proprietary, private or commercially sensitive. Respect copyright. Don’t use images or content generated elsewhere without permission. Cite your source and tag appropriate accounts when reposting. 

Branding

VCUarts is one word, capital VCU, lowercase arts.
Our brand is never VCU Art, VCUArts, VcuArt or any other variation.

To strengthen the overall brand and clarify each department as part of a unified School of the Arts, the VCUarts brand must remain consistent across various platforms. For example, the Department of Communication Arts must use the official display of VCUarts Communication Arts. The display name is the full name shown on pages and profiles, not the username used in the URL. Do not use abbreviations, such as ‘Comm Arts’ on any social media site as the display title.

Consult the VCUarts Branding Guidelines for information on Profile Images and how to use the VCUarts logo appropriately.

Links

Always use short links to site if available (ex. arts.vcu.edu/apply) or use bit.ly to create a short link. If you use the buffer app, you can use it to create a buff.ly link.

In a url, always use all lowercase (ex. arts.vcu.edu).

Link example

URLs should be removed after a link preview is shown on social media platforms.

Link example

Tagging

• Use at least one hashtag (#) on each post. The main VCUarts hashtags are #VCUarts and #VCUartsDepartmentname (ex. #VCUartsMusic). Avoid too many hashtags, we recommend no more than ten.

• Use appropriate hashtags to connect to other related posts. For example, #VCUarts will bring up other posts about VCUarts that use the same tag.

• Embed hashtags and user handles within the post when possible, rather than listing them at the end. Example: #VCUartsSculpture student representing #VCUarts at @TedxVCU

• Include @VCUarts to connect your social media posts to the main School of the Arts account on the platform.

• Use Camel Case to make hashtags more legible (ex. #VCUarts, #VCUartsExhibitions, not #vcuarts, #vcuartsexhibitions). Also note that there is no space between the hashtag and words.

• Additional hashtags include
#VCUartsWork
#myVCUarts
#VCUartsAlumni
#VCUartsExhibitions
#VCUartsGrad (for seniors)

Grammar

Be sure to read through your posts carefully before posting. It’s okay to use causal sayings like “y’all” or “check it,” but be mindful that your posts are representative of your department/program. Pay close attention to your “it’s” and “its” and “their” and “there” (and they’re, for that matter). Accuracy counts!

When posting in complete sentences, make sure to capitalize and punctuate accordingly. If you’re posting a complete thought, appropriate styling should apply.

Avoid purposeful misuse of capitalization and punctuation. For example, “whAts evERyonE do1ng th!$ wEEKenD?” or “O! M! G! We’re.so.excited!”

Never abbreviate things like “U” or “4” or “R” or “Y” or “C” or “b4”.

Acceptable abbreviations:
between: btwn
with: w/
professor: prof or profs
president: pres
alumni, alumna, alumnus, etc.: alum

 

Photos

When it comes to social media, photos are extremely important (particularly on Facebook, since content is at the mercy of an algorithm that determines what content gets seen by who). As often as possible, we aim to always have an image to accompany a post, and we also try to use our own photos. If you need a photo for something and are unable to take it yourself, reach out to the Communications Office at <artssocial@vcu.edu>. You can also consult the VCUarts Instagram and Twitter channels, VCU Library digital archive and Extensis (if you have access).

Become an amazing photographer by remembering three things: subject, composition and detail.

Be sure to follow high standards when posting anything associated with VCUarts. Photos taken with a quality camera phone are acceptable for most content, as long as they are clear, focused and properly lit. If your subject matter is cast in an unnecessary shadow, try adjusting the exposure via tapping other areas on your phone screen to get rid of the shadow. Blurry photos are never acceptable.

To properly size photos for social media, refer to this sizing guide for each platform.

NOTE: avoid non-VCUarts and other appropriate VCU brand logos in photos. Remember, we are promoting our brand, not any other.

Graphics

To promote things like visiting artists, guest lectures and student exhibitions, you may want to consider creating a graphic to post on your social media channels.

If you need help, reach out!

The Communications Office can assist you with the creation of banners, digital flyers, etc. Send an email to Teresa Engle Ilnicki, associate director of communications for VCUarts, at engleta@vcu.edu and she will work with you on your graphic needs.

Accessibility

VCU is working to ensure that all official online content is accessible to people with disabilities.

University Relations will publish new social media guidelines that include requirements and best practices on making social content more accessible.

Best Practices
• Add image descriptions for all images, even the ones that do not contain “useful” information about VCUarts programs, activities and services.
• If you cannot provide an accessible version of an image, always include a link to an accessible version of the information. For example, instead of pasting important text details included in an image of an exhibition poster, link to a website where the same information can be read with assistive technology.
• Posts including videos require captioning.

Does the content of the post provide useful information about a VCUarts program, activity or service? If yes, The post is considered useful content and will need to be accessible through captioning. If no, Is the post purely promotional? If no, You are required to add additional accessible text or a web link where the same information is accessible. If the post contains a video, it will require captioning. If yes, This exception is limited to content that does not provide useful information about VCUarts programs, activities and services. An image included in this kind of post would not need alt text or image description because it is considered trivial. However, including this alt text on all posts shows our commitment to diversity and accessibility.

Instagram Takeover

At VCU and VCUarts, we’re connected with the world around us and are uniquely integrated with our city’s urban culture. The work we do makes a difference because we’re out there on the ground, a part of the community, actively involved in improving lives any way we can.

Highlight our brand promise by showcasing a snapshot of the VCUarts experience from your unique vantage point by taking over our Instagram. People love behind-the-scenes content or perspectives from places and things they don’t normally get to see. This is an opportunity to show others what being a VCUarts student is really like. What unique things do you encounter? Introduce yourself, then create regular posts and stories around your VCUarts connection and experience.

Connect with Lindsay Parnell <parnelllj@vcu.edu>, Social Media Strategist with questions or to arrange an Instagram takeover.</parnelllj@vcu.edu>