Social Media Guide

This guide is for HSU employees and student-employees who have a role in coordinating social media on behalf of units at Humboldt State University. If you post to HSU-affiliated accounts, or supervise someone who does, this likely affects you. 

These guidelines and best practices are meant to help you use social media effectively and responsibly by:

  • Complying with law and policy
  • Promoting your club/major/department (which also promotes HSU!)
  • Being consistent with Humboldt State University guidelines

If you or someone you supervise is creating public video content for HSU, we encourage you to contact Marcom ahead of time. Not only can we help you maximize its effectiveness, but we can help you navigate legal and policy barricades.

This is a dynamic guide which Marcom edits as trends change. If you have questions about your area’s social media, you may contact Marketing & Communications at (707) 826-5565 or

Getting Started

Getting Started

Getting Started: The Basics

Before Launching a Channel

Answering these questions will streamline your process and help you decide what to post and what not to post.

  • What do you want to communicate and why?
  • Who is your audience and what interests them about your department?
  • Who’s going to create posts and respond to messages?
  • What’s the best social media channel for your unit?
  • Have you contacted Marcom?

Which Channel?

  • Facebook still has, by far, the biggest audience, both in the world and for HSU. On HSU's page, its biggest demographic is women, 18-24.
  • Instagram is closing in on Facebook, but doesn’t easily allow you to share links yet. Instagram Stories are a great way to share time-sensitive news. Stories is now about as popular as the main Instagram Feed. (July 2019)
  • Twitter is a great place for event listings, and for sharing what’s coming up.
  • Snapchat, while still popular, provides minimal metrics and no ability to share links. It’s the most superficial platform, best suited for showing what your organization has done.
  • LinkedIn is a great way to help your students and alumni stay updated on professional milestones and upcoming opportunities.

Launching Your Social Media Channel

Choose a name that includes Humboldt State or HSU. Ex:;; Always identify Humboldt State in your name first, then a unit name, so people can easily find you.
Register your social profile to include your new site in our University Social Media Directory.Similarly, Marcom will be a designated backstop in case your account gets hacked, you lose your phone, or your toddler accidentally deletes Facebook, etc. Please contact Marcom to set this up.

Use a generic department email account. Do not use a personal email address.Include all department contact information in the profile section of your social media channel. Include a URL for your unit’s official Humboldt State page or another official HSU page, like

Social Media Compliance

Social Media Compliance

Compliance: 8 Things You Need To Know


Running an HSU social media channel brings legal and professional responsibilities.

The content creator and their supervisor are responsible and accountable for adhering to these guidelines. 

It’s important to remember you will be held to high standards of inclusion, fairness, neutrality, as well as the University code of conduct. Humboldt State University is an agency of the State of California government and its property is state property. As such, legal and academic actions may be taken to remedy noncompliance. 

Your channel not only represents your department-- everything you post reflects, represents, and belongs to Humboldt State University. An average user may not discern between departments. 

1. Commenters, Neutrality, and Freedom of Speech

Neutrality: Humboldt State, as a public university, does not engage in political, partisan, or commercial advocacy. Do not use an HSU-affiliated page for these purposes.

Commenters and moderation: This is a dynamic topic, and the laws are far from clear. The CSU errs on the side of free speech, even when the speech is deemed odious. We do not ban users, block comments, hide comments, shadowban users, or do anything that silences a voice in a space in which commenting is available.

In other words, if you’re going to allow comments, you allow all the comments. Contact Marcom before deleting a comment. Even so, Humboldt State reserves the right to moderate discussions on our social media channels and encourages speech that is thoughtful, on-topic, and engaging.

 Under very legally-specific circumstances, exceptions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Hate speech
  • Threats and personal attacks
  • Libelous comments
  • Commercial speech, advertising and spam
  • Political or partisan views
  • Commercial endorsements
  • Privacy violations

2. Consent

Privacy matters. If you’re posting a photo of someone who can be identified from the photo, you are required to get a signed model release from that person. It doesn’t matter if it’s on-campus or off, on private property, or in public. It’s the law, and it’s also just a nice thing to do. 

Even naming someone on social media without their consent could be problematic. (They might have a stalker, for example.) A person's privacy is theirs alone. 

Photographs of minors should generally be avoided. Parents need to sign consent forms on their behalf. Here is HSU's Model Release Form. 

The good news is, HSU has over 3,000 photos that you can use for HSU-related promotional purposes. These professional-quality photos are from campus, field trips, and our community. They feature people who’ve signed the model release. Each photo is metatagged so you should be able to find what you need.

3. Accessibility

Any video you post must include captioning for any audible communication. Subtitles are preferred. Please ensure someone with impaired hearing still receives the entire message and has the same experience as someone with full hearing. This may change as screenreading technology develops and as more devices come into compliance with subtitle metadata. Please use descriptive metadata if the platform provides that functionality. For instance, Instagram and Facebook have 'alt-text' functionality. Please use it. 

4. Illegality

Do not violate laws or campus policies, and definitely don't do it on social media. Does your video show someone smoking on campus? Did you fly a drone over campus without permission from HSU and the FAA? It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with campus policies. 

5. Copyright

Need background music for a video? Sharing a meme? Grabbing a photo from the internet? Copyright laws apply in social media just as they would elsewhere. Be sure you have permission to post someone else’s work and give credit where credit is due. This includes memes, background music for videos, photos from newspapers, and everything else that you didn't personally create from scratch. 

Youtube’s audio library offers free background music, sometimes with attribution required. For more eclectic selections, check out the Free Music Archive.
For Instagram and Facebook, you can find background music in Facebook Creator Studio.

6. Resources: Logos, Brand Standards & Guidelines
Consistency counts. Do people use Founder's Hall or Founders Hall? Is the mascot Lucky The Logger or Lucky Logger? These questions and more are answered in the HSU Editorial Style Guide.

Use of University logos and visual identity on social media channels must comply with wordmark and graphics standards. Download Humboldt State logos, wordmarks and more here.

7. Appropriate Use of HSU Social Media

When posting to an HSU-affiliated channel*, you may be seen as speaking for the entire University. Authority to post to these channels is granted by your supervisor, who will also be held responsible for its content. 

Because you are representing Humboldt State and the CSU system, DO NOT post: hate speech, profanity, defamatory speech, personal attacks, drug or alcohol use, nudity or sexual content, personal information/images of individuals without their permission, views on campus policies or politics, business promotions, business promotions, commercial content, or copyrighted material. 

Newsmedia have quoted HSU social media posts as "official sources" when that was not the author's intention. This role is solely for HSU's spokespeople. 

8. Crisis Communications

Lastly, in the event of a campus crisis - be it a small power outage, controversy or major earthquake - DO NOT use HSU channels for crisis communications unless it is to refer people to HSU's primary communication channels. Even with the best of intentions, campus units have accidentally spread harmful misinformation and propagated rumors via HSU social media channels. It is imperative that you do not do so. 

It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with HSU crisis communication. Whether it's a criminal investigation, a public health issue, a natural disaster, controversy or any other crises - the rules change immediately.

In most circumstances, will have verified information during a crisis, and you can share that information widely. (See #5 above.)

If you struggle to answer “Is this legal and appropriate for everyone at HSU as a whole?”, we suggest you abstain or contact Marcom before posting. 

 *Exceptions include campus clubs, informal organizations, and campus newsmedia.

Social media - Best Practices

Social media - Best Practices

Best Practices – Tips & Tricks

Think of an informal get-together with some friends and friends-of-friends. You break the ice. You listen. You relate. You ask questions. You’re conversational, humble and polite. You don’t start passing out flyers or promoting yourself. HSU social media is the same way. It’s about educating, informing, and entertaining. Great posts do all three.

You've got a complicated subject matter. We can help guide you to effect communications practices, so feel free to set up an appointment.

  • Sharing Posters on Social Media Is a Bad Idea, Generally. They're often inaccessible to folks with vision problems, so you must transcribe the content in the post's alt-text field. Also, posters tend to get low engagement. That hurts you in the long run. An alternative could be a short video. 
  • Making a Video? Check with Marcom ahead of time, especially if you want to be able to post it publicly. 
  • Use #HumboldtState. It helps people find you. Use additional hashtags, but always use #HumboldtState.
  • Quality over Quantity. If people scroll past your post, algorithms are less likely to show your next post to that audience. If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything.   
  • Brevity. Social media users will typically skip posts with long captions. Research shows that captions with 80 characters or less get the most engagement. "Research shows that captions with 80 characters or less get the most engagement" is 79 characters.
  • Stay on your topic - Your audience follows you because there’s an expectation that you will provide some sort of service related to your field. If you ask yourself whether a certain post may not be focused enough - put it on your personal profile and not on the official profile. Each post should inform, empathize, or entertain in a style becoming of a university.
  • Confidentiality. Do not share confidential information on a social media channel.
  • Third-person voice. Your department account isn't a personal account. Don't say "I", in other words. 
  • Reposts. HSU frequently reposts HSU-affiliated content. If you don't want the world to see it, don't post it publicly.
  • Direct Messaging. Someone DMd you? Forward inquiries to the proper person as soon as possible.
  • Engagement. A goal of social media is to create a conversation or community among people who have something in common. Keeping that in mind will lead to a better experience with social media.

There's more, and Marcom is happy to help refine your specific channel.

Video Requirements

Video Requirements

Tips for DIY Video at HSU

Updated April 2020

Whether it's on Youtube or Instagram, you want people to see the video you worked on!

These informal tips are to empower students, faculty, and staff creating DIY promotional video content for distribution on HSU-affiliated social media channels.

As with any creative process, exceptions may apply. If you’re creating a video and hope that HSU will share it, contact Marcom before you hit ‘record’. 

For HSU to share your video broadly: 

  1. Closed captions must accompany dialog for all HSU-affiliated video and alt-text added to photos. "It is the policy of the CSU to make information technology resources and services accessible to all CSU students, faculty, staff and the general public regardless of disability."  Here are some helpful resources:

  2. Music & images must be licensed appropriately. Simple attribution may not suffice.

    Youtube’s audio library offers free background music, sometimes with attribution required. For more eclectic selections, check out the Free Music Archive.


  3. Proof it for improperly spelled words, glaring mistakes, or factual inaccuracies.

  4. It is your responsibility to get and retain signed model releases from your subjects. Minors require parental signature.
  5. It shouldn't include portrayals of violations of campus rules unless special permissions are in place. This includes everything from unauthorized drone flights to vaping on campus. 

  6. Audio/video production value is subjective, but standards do exist. See the next section for basic best practices. 

  7. The content must be consistent with HSU Social Media Guidelines.

Level-up your Production Value

A picture of a film producer holding a slate board on set


With sound, there is no substitute for proximity, so get the mic as close to the speaker as you can. We strongly advise using an external microphone, with a clip-on mic easily being your safest bet. A boom microphone is your next best bet. Camera-mounted mics are your least-desireable option. 

If you must use a smartphone for your video, you can check out smartphone-compatible clip-on microphones from the library. We highly recommend that you do so. 

Here's one professor's advice:



It's not about the camera, but having a basic DSLR will simply look better. 

You may check out cameras from the library. Again, if you want HSU to share your video, a smartphone is less likely to provide sufficient quality. 

Tripods for DSLRS and smartphones are also available from the library. 

When framing a shot, try using the rule of thirds. Simply put, move the subject off to one side of the frame. This a time-tested technique that adds a little bit of “pop” to your shots. It also allows space for onscreen titles and graphics.  

Try to have a blurry or similarly non-distracting background. 

Consider lighting your subject, and look around your viewfinder for stark shadows or backlighting. 


The statistics are clear: keep it brief. The average viewer makes it through about 50% of a Youtube video. The average Facebook watchtime is under 10 seconds. 

Text onscreen helps your message. Closed captions or bullet points increase your video’s engagement. 

Over 80% of video on Facebook video is watched with the sound off. Assume you’re making a silent movie. 

Software tools will not make or break your DIY video. Adobe Premiere is standard, but you can make simple edits, transitions, and graphics in iMovie, Camtasia, Resolve, and other low/no-cost programs. 

A word about smartphone videos

It’s true that smartphones are powerful tools. Indeed, in experienced hands, the camera doesn’t make much difference. However, smartphones are unlikely to deliver the kind of visual and quality needed to put HSU’s best foot forward. 

Logos and Branding

HSU’s wordmarks (logos) can be downloaded here. We recommend using HSU’s horizontal wordmark or our standard video intro/outro to conclude your video.

Download video intro and outro

Basic DIY Tips and Tricks


Campus Shot
Students in Class