Carleton maintains an active presence on Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn. In addition to the official college accounts, dozens of offices, departments, athletic teams, and student organizations use social media channels to connect, share, and discuss all things Carleton.
Create a New Account
By creating your own social media account, you should be prepared to maintain it and keep it updated. Carleton-related social media accounts are considered an extension of the official College website, and we ask you to read and follow the social media guidelines created by the Communications office.
For help creating an account, contact Erica Helgerud.
Social Media Guidelines
Current and prospective students, alumni, staff, faculty, and friends utilize Carleton’s Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn to stay connected. Having a presence in these areas helps Carleton raise its visibility and connect with our external audiences. In order to operate within social media effectively, the Division of Communications has developed a set of guidelines to support interactions on behalf of Carleton.
Faculty or staff members who manage social media as representatives of Carleton are responsible for following all normal expectations for professional behavior. Social media postings, including comments and responses, can be stored by and shared with millions around the world.
For more information on internet and computer usage at Carleton, view the Acceptable Use of Technology policy. In particular, please review the text at the top of that page, which states: “Users are expected to consume these services in a manner that respects reliability, security, and privacy, and is consistent with College policy and all applicable laws.”
It is important to note that applications developed for any mobile devices (e.g. smartphones and tablets) that use the College’s name, wordmark, or other institutionally identifiable information should meet the standards set forth in the Acceptable Use of Technology policy and these guidelines, as well.
Before You Begin
An effective social media presence requires careful planning. When creating a Carleton social media account, consider the following guidelines:
Understand the time commitment.
First and foremost, consider whether you have the staff, time, and resources necessary to maintain an effective social media presence, produce fresh content regularly, and monitor responses (year-round, not just during the academic year). It takes a great deal of time to effectively maintain a social media page. To keep a robust social media presence and engage with your followers, we recommend that you post two times per week (or more!) on your social media channels. Best practices include having at least two platform managers who are well versed in the communication goals of the channel. These managers can be faculty, staff, or student workers.
Establish goals and objectives.
What do you want to accomplish by having a presence on social media? What are your goals? How will social media help achieve them? How will you track your successes and progress?
Identify your audience.
Who is your audience and what issues are important to them? What content will they respond to, and on which platforms? The better you understand your audience, the more likely you are to provide meaningful and appropriate content.
Select an appropriate name.
It should be clear to your audience that the account represents a specific department, office, or organization at Carleton. For example, the Twitter/X handle for Carleton Football is, appropriately, @CarletonFB.
Create a plan for account continuity.
A social media account for a department or organization should outlast any individual student, staff, or faculty member who runs it, so it’s important to make a plan to ensure the account details are passed on to a new manager when a student graduates or an employee leaves or retires. Make sure that the account username and password are recorded in a secure location (such as with a password manager) and not just remembered by one person, to prevent the knowledge being lost when they leave. Also, try not to associate an individual’s email address with the account. If a student graduates or an employee leaves, that email becomes defunct and it can no longer be used to recover an account password if it is lost or forgotten. Instead, use a general info email (e.g. email@example.com) which can be accessed by multiple people. *Note: If your department or organization’s Instagram account was created with the platform’s previous shared login system, that should be changed so the Carleton-associated account has its own username and password. Please contact Erica Helgerud if you need assistance with that process.
Let us know about your account.
The Division of Communications should be informed about all Carleton-related social media accounts to ensure that someone knows about every account that is associated with the College. Furthermore, letting Communications know about your account can help with recovering it if a plan was not previously made for account continuity. This can also prove helpful if your account is hacked and the owner isn’t available to change the password. To inform Communications of your account, contact Erica Helgerud.
Determine what type of content you will produce and how often you will update it.
Represent your department, class, or organization.
Post content that is in line with your initiatives and with the College’s overall mission. Write in a manner that represents your whole unit. Use we, our, and other inclusive language. *Note: Liking and reposting are often considered endorsements, so check with others on your team before taking those actions. Remember, your account represents everyone in your group.
Have a conversation.
It’s the interaction—comments, shares, reposts—that makes social media valuable. Provide content that encourages feedback. Ask questions and reply to posts in a timely matter. Promote and interact with UGC (user-generated content) when possible.
Include photos and videos.
Visual content, especially photos and video, increases the level of engagement with your audience and the likelihood that another user will share the content on their own page.
Make it accessible.
All of your social media posts should be fully accessible to the entire Carleton community. This means including captions for all videos, using #CamelCase, attaching alt text to every photo, and avoiding posting both QR codes and flattened text (think: text-heavy posters or flyers). Please read through our full guidelines for accessibility on social media. For assistance in making your content accessible, contact Erica Helgerud.
Connect users with resources and other content.
When appropriate, provide resources and other content to your audience by linking to a Google form for event registration, some relevant content on the Carleton website, etc. Note that you should not type out links in your Instagram captions (they are not clickable). If you have a link you want followers to access, share the post to your stories and add a link sticker, or, if it’s an especially important link (like one to a monthly newsletter), change the link in your bio and direct followers to it (use #LinkInBio in the post caption). You can also use a Linktree in your bio to add multiple links at once.
Customize posts for the social media outlet you are using.
It is fine to post about the same topic on multiple outlets, but you should tailor the content for the audience. Mix it up! Alter the posts to avoid repetition. Do not link status updates to post automatically from one social media account to another (it can mess up the formatting). On Twitter/X, you may choose to advertise an event with a very brief description and link, whereas on Facebook you may want to provide detailed information about the event along with a photo.
- Twitter/X: Students @CarletonCollege are sponsoring a soccer equipment and school supply drive to benefit Ugandan community partners! http://ow.ly/iAW2L
- Facebook: Goals with Soul, a @CarletonCollege student-led organization, will be holding a soccer equipment drive and raffle auction March 12–14 to benefit two Ugandan community partner organizations: SOUL Uganda and Soccer Without Borders. Donations can be dropped of at Carleton’s Sayles-Hill Campus Center from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. each day. [Event photo]
Social media works best when you are generous! There is nothing wrong with self-promotion, but things really take off when you give others praise or a moment in the spotlight. Repost and share as often as possible, provided the content relates back to your goals. For example, if someone says how much they love your program/organization, repost it with a thank you.
Double-check everything for accuracy before you post, from spelling to the information you’re communicating. If someone posts a question or a valid complaint online, don’t ignore it, even if it’s only to say that you’re getting more information and will reply shortly. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible in an effort to build community and transparency.
If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly. Posts often include timestamps and users will be able to see how quickly you respond.
We encourage you to interact and collaborate with other Carleton social media groups. Familiarize yourself with Carleton-associated social media accounts—utilize your connections and ask who other people follow for campus news, events, and information; search “Carleton” + the name of a department, office, organization, etc. on social media platforms and explore what comes up; and/or email Erica Helgerud for suggestions on who to reach out to.
Promote your account and your content.
Use traditional means to promote your new account(s): email listservs, newsletters, and websites. Also make sure you notify the Division of Communications when you establish a new channel on any platform and always tag @CarletonCollege in your posts and stories; we will give you more visibility when you share engaging content. When you tag @CarletonCollege, it guarantees we will see it so we can re-share your posts on the main account. *Note: you especially must tag @CarletonCollege in Instagram stories if you want them to be shared (you can add mentions to stories after posting if needed). Instagram does not allow non-tagged profiles to share stories to their own accounts.
The Carleton Instagram also has a “Friday Finds” series, in which we share posts from college-associated accounts to the @CarletonCollege Instagram story on Friday morning every week in order for them to reach a wider audience. We no longer limit this sharing to only Friday mornings so as not to overwhelm people with content on just one day. As a general guideline for what gets shared when, time-sensitive posts (event announcements, applications opening, etc.) will usually be shared a few days before or on the relevant date, and most other posts will be shared in condensed batches on Fridays. Make sure to post announcements with enough time for people to factor them into their schedules. You can always post about events multiple times to remind your followers that it is happening, but be aware that it will most likely only get shared to the main @CarletonCollege account once.
Per College policy, don’t post confidential or proprietary information about Carleton, its students, alumni, or employees. Use good judgment and follow College policies and federal requirements.
Handling Negative or Critical Posts
Responding to negative posts.
If you receive negative feedback or critical posts, address the user’s concerns in a positive manner. Responding respectfully will indicate your willingness to rectify any problems and demonstrate that Carleton values others’ opinions—even if they are contrary.
Sometimes no action is the best action.
On occasion, people direct their frustration with the world toward you and your social media account. If you’re dealing with such a person, it may be better to take a passive role rather than fanning the fire. Invest your time and efforts instead where you can have a positive result, and always take care of your mental health and wellbeing first and foremost.
Depending on the severity of a negative comment and the platform, you may choose to delete the comment or simply hide it. Deleting a comment will completely remove it from your account. On Facebook, hiding a comment will hide it from your timeline and fans, but the comment will be visible to the person who posted it and their friends. *Note: posts containing personal attacks, nudity, discriminatory language or images, spam, or illegal material should be deleted promptly.
Not sure how to respond?
Please contact Erica Helgerud for assistance.
Remember that a successful social media account takes time to maintain and requires regular and timely updates. Inactive and/or duplicate social media accounts reflect negatively on the College and on your department, office, or organization. We may request that inactive and/or duplicate accounts be taken down if possible.
If you need an exact, step-by-step guide to creating an Instagram account, follow our Instagram Account Setup instructions.
If you have questions about maintaining your social media account, digital accessibility, how to increase engagement, or any other questions about social media, please contact Erica Helgerud for assistance.