Social Media Guidelines

California State University, Los Angeles’ social media platforms are used to engage our community and foster dialogue, as well as enhance the University’s image by sharing posts and stories that highlight success and excellence.

These guidelines aim to provide students, faculty and staff with information concerning the use and development of social media platforms and guide them as they use social media. These guidelines pertain only to work use of social media. Personal use of social media unrelated to Cal State LA is at the individual’s discretion. You may identify yourself as an affiliate of the University, but make it clear that the views and opinions expressed are your own. Furthermore, you should not use your Cal State LA email or phone number as your contact information, and you are solely responsible for your postings.

As a social media practitioner, you play an important role in helping the Office of Communications and Public Affairs shape the perception of the University in the public’s eye. The objective is to share accurate, high-quality content that reinforces Cal State LA’s reputation as the premier public comprehensive university in the heart of Los Angeles and maintains relevancy with its social media communities. This can be done through success stories that feature students, faculty and staff, as well as programs, events and initiatives on and off campus.

For the purpose of this policy, references to “social media” will include platforms such as:


1. Is social media right for you?

Prior to jumping in, there are several questions that should be answered to determine if social media is right for you. First, what do you want to accomplish through social media (your objective)? Second, do you have enough content to feed a social media account? And third, do you have enough staff and the right resources to manage an account?

For effective results, social media accounts require frequent posting of content, daily monitoring of accounts, and a desire to engage with others. Additionally, building an audience on social media takes time. If you create a new account to promote a one-time event, chances are that you won’t be able to attract enough followers in time to use it an effective means of communication.

If you are not prepared to engage your target audience in a meaningful way or you do not have enough subject matter to publish regularly and in perpetuity, a social media account is probably not for you. Instead, consider other ways to communicate your message, or consult with the Office of Communications and Public Affairs for suggestions. For example, you can send news and announcements to [email protected] to be considered for posting on official University social media accounts or for inclusion in electronic newsletters.

2. Secure approval

If you have determined that you do want to utilize social media, the next step is to secure the approval of your department head before creating a social media plan, selecting a platform, or developing a profile for your department.

3. Notify Communications and Public Affairs

Once you’ve decided to create an account, inform the Office of Communications and Public Affairs at [email protected] to discuss your request. Send us:

a. Department Name
b. Platform
c. Profile Name
d. Target Audience

You’ll also be invited to join the social media working group, which is hosted by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs regularly as a way to connect the various communicators on campus, encourage staff development and inform the group of important initiatives and events.

4. Create a social media plan

You’ve already identified your objective in Step 1. Now it’s time to develop it into a strategic plan. Next, define your target audience, your goals, the overall tone of your messaging and what tactics you will use to accomplish your goals and objectives. Include a schedule of how many times a week you plan to post, and who will create the posts. This plan can be used as guiding document to help keep you focused on your objective. Please note that social media is not meant to be a communications plan on its own. It is a tool to bolster your overall communications plan.

5. Select social media platform

Each of the popular platforms have their own purpose and personality. Use the information from your social media plan to help determine which platform is the right tool for you. For example, if your objective is related to professional development, think about creating a Group on LinkedIn, which connects people via their professions and careers. Or if your messages are best told through quick videos and beautiful images, you may want to try Instagram.

6. Select name and apply branding

Once you have selected a platform, it’s time to create a profile. Start with a profile name that clearly and concisely identifies your program and its affiliation to Cal State LA. Please refer to the University brand guide or consult with the Office of Communications and Public Affairs to ensure your account is compliant with both the editorial style guide (We no longer use "CSULA," so this should not be used in your social media handles.) as well as the visual identity guide, which establishes rules on colors, logo usage and more.

7. Launch and promote

Once you have launched your social media page, you need to let your target audience know. Promote your new account using other modes of communication, such as links on your website, printed cards or posters, or tasteful and appropriate giveaways, to attract attention. Utilize already existing publications, relevant email lists, newsletters and other social media accounts to help spread the word. Be creative.

1. Measure activity and set goals

After the initial launch, use data supplied by the social media platform to measure the success and effectiveness of your page. Each platform has its own set of metrics, but they typically include the number of “likes” and shares or retweets, the quantity or quality of comments, click-throughs, total fan base (number of followers), page views, etc. Select the metrics that best fit your objectives for the page. Then set short-term and long-term goals for reaching them.

2. Monitoring comments and responding to concerns

Social media is a dialogue, not a one-way conversation. Audience members that are invested in your page will have an opinion. And they will voice it. You need to have a plan in place for how to respond.

The comments may be negative, neutral or positive. Remember that any comment can be an opportunity to engage with the audience. Followers appreciate knowing that their voice has been recognized, and that kind of interaction can go a long way in building affinity for your department and the University as a whole.

If the comment is generally negative, you can choose how you want to respond. If there is an issue raised by users that you or another person or department on campus can answer, respond to the comment in a professional manner. Don’t get into arguments. Keep emotion out of the situation, stick to the facts, and be respectful. If the comment does not merit a response, there is no obligation to respond.

3. Abide by the law

Anything you post on any social media platform, including those owned by or affiliated with Cal State LA, must comply with all local, state and federal laws and regulations. This includes copyright, trademark, privacy and defamation laws. For copyright and fair use guidelines, consult the University’s Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines.

Photos of miscellaneous people in a public setting are generally OK to post (as there is no expectation of privacy). But you should consider obtaining written permission or a release when posting photos focusing on particular individuals or when featuring particular faces that can be easily identified. For instance, you may want to think about whether some students photographed will be concerned about being identified in a particular setting or at a particular type of event. Moreover, people's names and likenesses cannot be misappropriated for commercial use in California. And, if the social media is being used to promote an event or venture that collects money, there could be civil liability. See California Civil Code Section 3344.

1. Be respectful and transparent

Be thoughtful and conscientious with what you post because your words and actions reflect not just on you, but also on the University. Don’t express a personal opinion or point of view when posting on behalf of a Cal State LA affiliated social media account. Don’t use the Cal State LA name to market a commercial product or promote a political issue.

2. Be relevant and accurate

As a Cal State LA representative posting on University accounts, you must ensure that the content you publish is factually accurate and relevant. Additionally, only public information may be shared. You should not discuss planned programs, initiatives, financial data, personnel matters or other such information. Please consult with Cal State LA Office of Communications and Public Affairs, if you are unsure as to what information you are able to disclose.

3. Think twice, post once

Think twice before you post. Anything you share within social media, even within a closed network, is not private. It can and will be shared, stored and spread globally. If you are unsure about your post, discuss content with your manager before posting.

4. Listen

Observe before you engage. “Listen” to online conversations through social media networks to maintain a clear and current understanding of what is relevant and of interest to the community.

5. Be active

You should check social media sites daily and post fresh content on a regular basis. Also, engage with others by commenting, liking and responding to the conversation around you.

See the University social media directory:

1. Official California State University, Los Angeles Social Media

Please click on the following page for a University social media directory.