Social Media

At San Francisco State University, we believe in the power of social media to connect, engage and inspire our diverse community. Our social media platforms serve as vibrant spaces where we share the stories, achievements and opportunities that make SF State exceptional. By demonstrating our brand pillars and respecting our student population, we can create connections, impact and change on social media.

Platform Best Practices

Overall Strategic Guidance

Social Media Harassment and Crisis Communications Policy

Social Media Governance

Social Media Directory

    Official University Accounts

Platform Best Practices

  • Mission: To connect directly with our current and future student populations. To share information about current campus events, drive enrollment with engaging, viral content, create community, answer questions and share useful information in a fun way.
  • Audience: This platform skews to future and current students ages 15-25. Use your best judgment to follow current social trends and best engage with this audience.
  • Tone: The SF State Instagram is your best friend on campus, a fun, reliable classmate who can help guide and cheer students through their SF State journey. We emphasize the “fun” on campus while supporting student life and greater university goals through exciting viral content. The balance of fun and informative leans toward fun on this platform. Instagram skews younger, so trends are a must to use to truly connect in a meaningful way.
  • Content Mix: Photos and video only, reels shot vertically yield highest engagement and gallery posts (with multiple photos) are favored in the algorithm.
  • Community Management: Engage fully with students by sharing emoji responses, thank you’s and encouragement. We regularly feature and repost student content to show the true beauty of our university. This is the most friendly platform, so we encourage positive interaction with commenters and regular engagement with tagged posts. If students have questions via direct message, you can answer as time permits but always use a friendly, positive voice. We support our students and encourage direct communication.
  • Official Instagram Guidelines:
  • Mission: To connect directly with current students, alumni and our greater university community. Facebook is a hub for sharing links and news.
  • Audience: This platform skews more toward alumni, parents of future students and faculty/staff. Therefore, we share more links and informational content opposed to isolated photos and video. When posting photos and video always include a link to drive traffic back to the university website or direct sign-up forms, etc.
  • Tone: The SF State Facebook page is slightly more formal than Instagram but not too institutional. Every post should be written to the audience, not at the audience. Use language that endears the reader to your content and still strikes a connective tone. When sharing links, use a “call to action” to draw attention to the link as seen in the example below.
  • Content Mix: A balanced mix of photo galleries, video, and links or news stories works on Facebook. We emphasize links more on this site due to its algorithm but encourage more video on all platforms. Make sure video is shot vertically
  • Community Management: Facebook comments are fewer than Instagram. Liking positive comments is encouraged and answering “customer service” questions about specific university deadlines is highly recommended. Providing direct links to the information you’re trying to share (housing, applications, event RSVP’s) is always a best practice on all platforms, but especially if someone is messaging or asking directly.
  • Dimension Recommendations:
  • Mission: To connect directly with current students, alumni and our greater university community through short, link-based content. X is a great way to share niche content related to specific departments, and notable alumni.
  • Audience: Due to X’s landscape, we reach equal parts internal and external audiences. Audience members skew older (25-50) and generally engage with content that applies directly to them. Content should be down-to-earth, informative and useful. X is not typically a place where future students congregate.
  • Tone: The tone of X is similar to Facebook but can be more abbreviated due to character count. Keep it brief and more formal than Instagram but use your best judgment to create content that links out to your chosen landing page with efficiency.
  • Community Management: X is the most active with commentary, do not engage with accounts that appear to be inflammatory. Do not block accounts through official university channels. Do not feed the “trolls.” Engage positively and direct energy toward your content strategy.
  • Posting Requirements:
  • Mission: To connect directly with our network of alumni, faculty and staff. LinkedIn is a place to celebrate departmental achievements, share overall university messaging, and highlight alumni achievements, rankings and news items.
  • Audience: The LinkedIn Audience skews older than Instagram, with the majority of users in the 30-54 year age range. Most audience members are alumni, alumni-adjacent or part of a greater alumni network. Use LinkedIn to get news out about alumni achievements, general university goals and to ask questions of our alumni community to engage and embrace them. A great way to connect on LinkedIn is to share job opportunities, internship news and highlight ways that alumni can get involved in the SF State community. Potential students do not normally congregate on LinkedIn.
  • Tone: LinkedIn is a more formal space but that doesn’t mean it’s stiff. Use language that describes your link, photo or video with a friendly tone. Address the audience directly and assume you are speaking with alumni.
  • Community Management: Respond to positive comments when possible. If there are questions related to enrollment, alumni donations or other easily-linkable things, provide the direct links to the users when possible. Respond to direct messages with patience and kindness always.
  • Posting Requirements
  • Mission: Connect with potential students, alumni, faculty and staff. YouTube casts the widest net as far as audience. Use YouTube to display long-form content and video that expands on a larger topic.
  • Audience: YouTube spans all of our core demographics including, potential students, alumni, faculty, staff and non-targeted audiences. Produce content that is longer form and speaks to the wider goal of your department, club, organization or university initiative.
  • Tone: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the most important on YouTube. Make your titles and descriptions serve your purpose and hit the most keywords possible. San Francisco State University is a great keyword to include in your titles and tags. Using your description as the place for links, SEO info and tagging will help your videos get discovered more organically.
  • Community Management: Respond to positive comments when possible. If there are questions related to enrollment, alumni donations or other easily-linkable things, provide the direct links to the users when possible. Respond to direct messages with patience and kindness always.
  • Posting Requirements


Overall Strategic Guidance

Use these guidelines as a compass when deciding how to run your social media channels.

When posting on SF State’s social media platforms, remember that you are an official representative of the University. Ensure your content reflects the values, mission and brand of SF State. You are not acting as an individual, you are representing the University. We do not condone the advancement of personal politics, views or content going out on official University accounts. Default to the brand guidelines and platform on our branding website for further guidance.

Understand who our target audience is on each platform and tailor your content accordingly. As listed above, each platform has a different demographic and purpose. Consider the audience’s interests, needs and preferences when creating content. Engaging posts are different from platform to platform. Don’t try to create new behavior, observe your audience and adapt strategy to them. 

Build trust with our audience by being authentic and transparent in your communications. Share real stories, experiences and updates about SF State that resonate with our community on your platforms. Ask yourself: Would I scroll or read this? Do I find this useful? Would someone who knows nothing about our University stop for this content? If not, don’t post it.

Create a safe and inclusive environment for all users. Treat everyone with respect, regardless of their backgrounds or opinions. Avoid engaging in or promoting discriminatory or offensive content. If you run into users with differing opinions, do not engage. It is not your responsibility as an official representative of the University to engage with negativity online. Remember: You are acting as the University, not an individual.

Develop a content plan that aligns with SF State’s goals and objectives. Plan ahead to ensure a consistent and balanced mix of content types, such as news, events, student features and University achievements. Create a balanced mix of video, photos, links and other content as outlined in the specific platform guidance above.

Maintain a consistent visual identity across SF State’s social media platforms. Use official logos, colors and graphics as specified in the University’s brand guidelines to create a cohesive and recognizable presence. See our brand guidelines for ideas on how you can add the SF State flare to your posts. Keeping things consistent helps distinguish you as an official member of the SF State social community.

Actively engage with our audience by responding to comments, direct messages and mentions in a timely and friendly manner. Hype students up, encourage alumni success and ignore comments that do not serve your community. Be helpful when students need assistance. Encourage meaningful conversations, answer queries and acknowledge feedback to foster community engagement. Do not feed the trolls. 

As a state institution we are not at liberty to block, remove or censor comments or individuals on University-wide social media accounts. If you or your entity is being threatened or harassed online, document the incident with screenshots and report them to the official authorities. If you receive what you believe to be a credible threat to you, the school or your entity’s safety, let an administrator know and follow established escalation protocols. Do not take unsanctioned action blocking, reporting or removing comments until your superior has spoken to the correct crisis communications authority. Taking unsanctioned action on social media can result in a backfire effect that can create more harm than good. Use your best judgment and consult your team during times of crisis.

We highly encourage social media collaboration! Use native features like Instagram’s “collaboration post” feature to interact with fellow departments, colleagues and students. Comment positively and encourage engagement by asking questions of your audience through captions, interactive posts like polls or calls for user generated content. 

Protect the privacy and security of individuals and the University. Avoid sharing personal or sensitive information without proper authorization. Report any instances of harassment, threats or other malicious activities to the appropriate authorities.

Regularly analyze social media metrics and insights to evaluate the performance of your posts and campaigns. Use data to identify successful strategies, optimize content and inform future decision-making.

Stay updated with the latest social media trends, features and best practices. Attend relevant training sessions, follow industry thought leaders and participate in professional development opportunities to enhance your social media skills.

Remember, these guidelines are designed to help you effectively manage SF State's social media platforms. Feel free to adapt them based on the specific requirements of each platform and consult with the university's social media team for any additional guidance or support.


Social Media Harassment and Crisis Communications Policy

Does this comment require a response? Chances are it does not. Social media comment sections can become inflammatory easily. Make a conscious choice to focus on your strategic goals and never act in a siloh. Remember you are acting as a representative of the university, not an individual. Take the time to evaluate if a message is worth responding to. Most of the time, it’s not.

In cases of online harassment or persistent trolling behavior, it may be best to disengage from the conversation. Engaging with trolls often fuels their behavior and can prolong the negative interaction. Instead, report the behavior to the appropriate social media platform and follow their guidelines for dealing with harassment.

In cases where a response is warranted (answering student questions, helping with crisis communications, clarifying a message), aim to address the issue in a timely manner. This shows that San Francisco State University is proactive in addressing concerns and demonstrates our commitment to fostering a supportive online community.

If the issue requires more in-depth discussion or resolution, encourage the individual to reach out via direct message, email or another appropriate channel. Provide contact information or direct them to the relevant department or staff member who can address their concerns more effectively. 

Maintain a positive and solution-oriented tone in your responses. Avoid engaging in heated arguments or responding with defensive language. Instead, focus on finding common ground and seeking resolutions.

If you’re unsure about how to handle a specific situation, consult with the University’s social media team or designated authority. They can provide guidance and support and help determine the appropriate response strategy.

Keep records of any negative comments or instances of harassment, including screenshots, timestamps and relevant details. This documentation can be valuable if further action is necessary or if the situation escalates.

If the negative comments or harassment contain threats, hate speech or explicit content, prioritize the safety and security of individuals. Report such incidents to the appropriate University authorities and follow established protocols for addressing such situations.

These guidelines are meant to assist you in navigating negative comments and harassment on social media. Each situation may require a unique approach, and it’s important to adapt these guidelines to the specific circumstances while prioritizing the well-being of individuals and maintaining a positive online community for San Francisco State University. If an issue is beyond your understanding, reach out to a superior for guidance.


Social Media Governance

If you are considering opening a social media page for your department, club or university-associated group, please keep the following guidelines in mind.

If you considering opening a social media page, make sure you have clear goals in mind. Social media is an extension of your university-associated entity and therefore must reflect your overall strategy. Posting consistently with intent is just as important on social media as it is in other marketing areas. Make sure you’ve assessed the time commitment and bandwidth requirements for a successful social page before establishing one. Brand awareness, sharing news and updates, recruiting new students and creating community are just some of the goals you can have for a new social media page. Remember, you are acting as part of the University, so all goals should be in line with global SF State strategy.

Determine who will be responsible for managing and administering your social accounts. We recommend dedicating a team member to the execution of strategy, publishing and analytics to inform strategy moving forward. In order to reach your goals, you need dedicated resources to establish a strong, consistent strategy. Consider your entity’s time and resource limitations before establishing a social account.

If you’re creating a social media account make sure to have a profile picture, cover photo and name ready. We recommend using sfsu_ENTITY like @sfsu_biology or @sfsu_health. Follow all brand guidelines as mentioned on the SF State Branding page.

Once you establish roles and responsibilities, make sure to dedicate time to learning and implementing best practices across your social media profiles. Training can include crisis management, posting policy, social media strategy, protocol on user-generated content, content strategy and more. Make sure training and goals are in alignment with your overall approach and represent the University as a whole.

Develop a content strategy that aligns with the University’s goals and resonates with the target audience. Plan a content calendar to ensure a consistent flow of relevant and engaging content. Include a mix of news, updates, events, student achievements, faculty spotlights, community stories, multimedia content and other content types that are valuable to your audience.

Monitor social media channels regularly and respond to comments, messages and mentions promptly. Encourage engagement and dialogue by asking questions, running contests or polls, and featuring user-generated content. Foster a positive and inclusive online community by addressing concerns, moderating discussions and upholding the University’s values.

Develop a crisis management plan that outlines how to handle social media crises, negative feedback or potential PR issues. Identify key decision-makers and establish an escalation protocol for severe situations. Respond to crises promptly, transparently and empathetically, and keep communication lines open with the appropriate University authorities.

Ensure compliance with privacy laws and regulations when collecting, storing and using user data. Develop protocols for handling personal information and sensitive data securely. Provide clear guidelines to administrators on the responsible use of user data and ensure that privacy settings are appropriately configured on social media platforms.

Regularly monitor social media analytics to evaluate the performance of your social media efforts. Track metrics such as reach, engagement, follower growth, click-through rates and conversions. Analyze the data to gain insights into the effectiveness of your strategies and make data-driven decisions to optimize your social media presence.

Social media platforms and trends are constantly evolving. Stay updated on new features, algorithm changes and emerging platforms to adapt your social media governance strategy accordingly. Attend relevant conferences, webinars and workshops to stay informed about the latest practices in social media management.