Social Media Guide

If you get social on behalf of the school, get to know the school's and the university's social media policies.

Why use social media?

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer unique opportunities to connect and communicate with people across the globe. Arts & Sciences supports the use of social media initiatives that seek to share and support its educational, research, and clinical missions. Members of our community are asked to be professional, confidential and technically secure, and transparent of their identity in all communications on behalf of Arts & Sciences and university.

Before you begin: Planning your strategy

Take a moment to consider the following elements of any effective, strategic communication before you begin.

Audience: Whom are you trying to reach? Applicants, current students, alumni, or another group?
Key Objectives: What would you like your audience to do with you on social media? Chat and share, learn about events, get news?
Frequency: How often will you communicate with your audience?
Choice of Platform: Questions to consider include: Can you use Twitter to connect with thought leaders or send brief, timely updates? Or would you like to build a following of friends on Facebook?
Do you have videos to post on YouTube? Or lots of high-resolution images to share on Flickr?
Security Needs: Understand the security limitations of social media sites.

Administration and monitoring

  1. Contact the Arts & Sciences Communications team prior to launching any social media initiatives. Representation of Arts & Sciences departments, programs, labs, or other units on online social media platforms must be approved by and coordinated in conjunction with A&S Communications.
  2. Authorization must be obtained first from Arts & Sciences Communications, before using the University’s names and logos, including the names of departments, programs, centers and other units. All policies, procedures, and guidelines regarding University trademarks, names, and symbols apply to social networking sites. Existing social media activities must be reviewed and approved or amended as necessary.
  3. Participation in or on social media platforms can be created by, assigned to and maintained by representatives of departments, divisions, programs or their delegates under the guidance of Arts & Sciences Communications.
  4. All social media participation must assign a primary site administrator responsible for content and adhere to applicable policies and procedures. The primary administrator should be an employee of the University. If not an employee of the University, the primary site administrator must be directly supervised by an employee of Washington University who assumes responsibility for the primary site administrator’s work. The site administrator’s name and title, as well as all parties with administrative access to the site, shall be forwarded to the Arts & Sciences Communications team, posted on the site, and kept current by the department, division or program responsible for the social media forum. Arts & Sciences Communications can approve requests for assistance or shared site administration by other parties (See Shared Administrative Access to Social Media Platforms).
  5. The primary site administrator will ensure that:
    • Content is appropriate, accurate and timely.
    • Content complies with all privacy, corporate compliance, copyright, disclosure, conflict of interest, and other relevant laws and University policies.
    • Site or page complies with the naming conventions for social media initiatives at Washington University. (See table below)
    • Appropriate consent is obtained and documented for content including words, graphics, photos, video, audio, images, PowerPoint presentations, artwork, and any other included elements.
    • Content does not constitute advertising. The University does not endorse commercial enterprises, including in its digital communication unless approved by the Office of Public Affairs. Promotion of an event sponsored by the University is acceptable.
    • Content is monitored daily, or more frequently if necessary, and postings and comments adhere to policies.
    • All errors are immediately corrected and corrections notes with the original post.
    • Offered links are reviewed and deemed appropriate.
    • WashU Arts & Sciences, a Facebook account managed by the ArtSci Communications team, should be invited to be a member of your group. Once accepted, the primary site administrator should make WashU Arts & Sciences an administrator of the group. The WashU Arts & Sciences profile will not make any changes/decisions about your group; their involvement is only to provide support in crisis situations.
  6. Comments on official WashU Arts & Sciences forums that contain any of the following are subject to editing, rejection or deletion:
    • Profanity, racist, sexist, discriminatory or other derogatory content
    • Plagiarism or infringement upon or violation of the rights of third parties, such as copyright, trademark, trade secret, confidentiality, intellectual property or patent
    • False claims, including those not in compliance with AMA guidelines
    • Spam, spyware, virus or other component or computer code or script that is or could be harmful

Account names



XXX at Washington University (not WashU)

Can use of instead of at depending on your group’s physical location.

Although Facebook does not state what the maximum length of a page name can be, unofficial accounts found it to be 50 characters. However, your name will be cut off after approximately 28 characters on mobile devices.

The above naming convention is approved for Facebook only so the keywords in your group’s title do not get cut off on mobile devices.


Creating a username or user ID allows you to create a unique link for your page.

For example:

Try to keep it short. If your location in St. Louis matters, consider adding STL to your username. If you want to include your affiliation to Washington University, use WashU, not WUSTL.

About section

In the first sentence of your page’s About section, self-identify as being part of Washington University Arts & Sciences.


Your “real name” can be up to 20 characters long.
Example: St. Louis Cardinals

Your @username can be up to 15 characters. Example: @Cardinals

You can change your “real name” as much as you like with no real consequences; however, changing your @username will change your URL, thus breaking any existing links, including those from your website.

“WashU” is approved for Twitter.

“Real” name

XXX at WashU  or  WashU xxx

Acronyms and nicknames for your own program name are acceptable.
Examples: OT, PT, DBBS



In general, shorter is better; however, you want your username to be recognizable too.


Your @username can contain up to 30 characters. Your full name is unlimited in length and only shows up on your profile but does not accompany individual posts. “WashU” is approved for Instagram.



Full/real name

XXX at Washington University

YouTube and Vimeo

You put a lot of effort into producing your videos. And when you’re finished, you may not know where to host them.

Resist the temptation to create a new YouTube or Vimeo account. Creating a group-specific account can be counter-productive and create more work for you. It means your content will be siloed from related videos produced Arts & Sciences. It also means you’ll have to regularly post new videos to keep your account from going stale.

A simpler solution is to host your videos on an official Arts & Sciences YouTube channel. Videos hosted on these channels can easily be promoted on the school’s official accounts, discovered in search engine results and embedded on websites. Other times, if you are planning a new ongoing series, starting a YouTube channel may be the right choice. 

Contact us to discuss if this is the right solution for you. 

Other accounts

Please consult with Arts & Sciences Communications for any social media accounts that use the school or university's name or represent it in any way. For school-related accounts, contact our team for a consultation.

Setting up Facebook Groups

Many partners in Arts & Sciences will benefit from creating a Facebook group rather than a Facebook page.

Management of any Facebook group will be the responsibility of the department/division/office choosing to create the group. Before creating a group, there must be a firm commitment to be involved in the group on a daily basis to monitor activity and interact with group members as appropriate. All WashU social media policies apply to Facebook.

To set up a Facebook Group:

  1. Go to the Facebook website from a desktop computer (e.g., not a from a mobile app). Using your personal Facebook profile, click Create Group in the left column to set up a new Facebook group. You may customize the group in any way using the options and settings provided by Facebook.
  2. Invite the “Washington University in St. Louis Arts & Sciences” profile to be a member of your group (the Arts & Sciences Communications team manages this profile). Once accepted, make Washington University in St. Louis Arts & Sciences an administrator of the group. The Arts & Sciences profile will not make any changes/decisions about your group.
  3. Do not post anything to Facebook that you do not want others to see. While your group will most likely become an informal space, staff members should treat all interactions in the Facebook group professionally.
  4. If someone ever posts something in your group that is profane, abusive, threatening or questionable in any way, do not respond or delete anything. Immediately contact the primary administrator of your site/page or a representative from Arts & Sciences Communications. Using standard crisis communications protocols, the team will quickly determine the appropriate way to act/respond.

Self-hosted sites

Personal self-hosted social media sites unrelated to WashU business or activities must clearly and prominently state that they do no represent the opinions or views of the University and that they convey the personal views of the creator.

The University does not monitor these personal pages and is not responsible for their content. Such personal content, if using the domain, must comply with local, state and federal law — and must not involve copyright infringement, constitute libel or harassment, contain illegal materials, or consume inappropriate amounts of bandwidth.

The University’s Computer Use Policy provides further guidelines for appropriate use by students, faculty and staff of computer facilities and services.

Activities that do not identify a faculty or staff member with WashU, do not use a WashU email address, do not discuss WashU or its members and solely concern personal matters would normally fall outside these guidelines.

Behavior on WashU-affiliated properties

  1. Follow all existing WashU policies and guidelines cited above.
  2. Respect copyrights, trademarks and intellectual property of the University and others.
  3. Protect others’ privacy and their sensitive or private content.
  4. Be professional and respectful in all postings. Be mindful that all communications in the online environment are visible to co-workers, managers, competitors and others. Remember that nearly all content contributed on all social media platforms becomes immediately searchable and can be immediately shared.
  5. When representing WashU, identify yourself and your role with the organization in all posts. Use good judgment and strive for accuracy. Errors and omissions could result in liability for you or for WashU.

Behavior on sites not associated with WashU

  1. When you are expressing personal views, and when your association with WashU is shared, implied or apparent, make it clear that your opinions are personal and do not represent the views or opinion of WashU. Washington University is committed to a work environment free of harassment and disruptive behavior, and to providing an equal opportunity work environment where every member of the University community is treated with fairness, dignity and respect. No one shall discriminate against any individual on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or any other factor prohibited by law.
  2. Be thoughtful about how you present yourself as a WashU faculty or staff member in online networks. By virtue of identifying yourself as part of WashU in such a network, you are now connecting yourself to your colleagues, managers and even donors.
  3. Always adhere to the site’s user terms and conditions.
  4. Make sure your online activities do not interfere with the completion of your job responsibilities.
  5. If someone from the media or press contacts you about posts you have made in online forums that relate to WashU in any way, you must alert your manager and contact Arts & Sciences Communications before responding. Arts & Sciences Communications will provide assistance, including preparation of official information that can be appended to the social media site, and work with you to resolve the situation.
  6. If you wish to write about other Universities, information should be respectful and factually accurate.
  7. Never comment on anything related to legal matters or litigation involving WashU. Contact Arts & Sciences Communications if you require further assistance.
  8. In order to provide the utmost care for our patients, employees and students, and the community at large, refer all social media activity around crisis topics to the Office of Public Affairs. Never comment on social media sites on topics related to crisis situations involving the University or its affiliated institutions. Be mindful that anonymous comments may be traced to any WashU IP address.
  9. When identifying yourself and your role with the WashU in a personal online forum, use good judgment and strive for accuracy. Errors and omissions could result in personal liability.