/ Public Affairs and Marketing

Social Media Guidelines

Why we use social media

Hope College inspires students to be fully alive in mind, body and spirit through an exceptional liberal arts education and a community grounded in a vibrant Christian faith. At the heart of this promise are people like you who make Hope College what it is, and the work that you do to extend these values to the world. As a social media manager, you play an integral role in Hope College’s storytelling, and ultimately, its success in enrolling and retaining students. 

Social media allows us to preserve moments, engage in conversation and express our enthusiasm for Hope College and its diverse community of people and programs. 

The following are recommended guidelines for faculty and staff who manage social media on behalf of Hope College.

Creating accounts

We encourage you to first consult with Public Affairs and Marketing before creating a new social media account for your department or office. Public Affairs and Marketing is available to provide support and learning resources for creating and maintaining social media accounts, and can make recommendations that meet the college’s branding and social media best practices. When appropriate, we will add your new account to the college’s social media directory. 

When setting up a new account, it is advised that your user name start with “Hope” so that others who are searching for Hope College can easily find your account. Avoid using underscores, uncommon abbreviations and long usernames. For example:
@hopetheatredept - Hope College Theatre Department
@hopecollegebookstore - Hope College Bookstore
@hopecollegedm - Hope College Dance Marathon

Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and other social media accounts should be registered using a departmental or shared email address accessible by more than one person, such as officename@hope.edu. Passwords and login credentials should be known, accessible and maintained by account administrators and their department supervisor. Please inform Public Affairs and Marketing of the names and contact information of your social media managers. 

Facebook requires page managers to log in through their personal Facebook account. Department and office Facebook accounts should have at least two Hope College employee account administrators at all times, however, you may choose to have additional roles on your page such as editors, moderators, advertisers and analysts. Please contact Public Affairs and Marketing for assistance with creating user roles and understanding privacy settings. 

Best practices

  • Please inform Public Affairs and Marketing of the names and contact information of your social media managers.
  • Share your department login credentials with your department chair and/or your office manager in the event that someone else may need to recover access to your account.
  • Enable two-factor authentication on your accounts for an added layer of security.
  • Change your passwords at least once per semester. 

Good social media content is relevant and timely for your audience. Content representing Hope College should be engaging, friendly and supportive of the college’s brand.

Content that supports Hope’s brand includes:  

  • Academic and research-related updates
  • Hope blog stories
  • Events and activities
  • Student and faculty achievements
  • Unique stories about students and faculty, past and present
  • Campus culture and student life updates
  • Traditions and important moments throughout Hope’s history
  • Adhering to the Hope College Brand Guidelines on the proper use of logos, colors, photos and images

The content you publish should be unique to your office or department’s personality, and it should vary slightly depending on the audience you are addressing. Similarly, how often you decide to publish and the content you share should maintain a consistent theme that aligns with our mission and the brand of the college. See our Web Content Guidelines for more information on how to communicate the Hope brand on social media.

Best Practices

  • Go with your gut on what to/not to share.
  • Always include a photo, video or a website link to more information in your Facebook post or tweet.
  • Use alt tags for increased accessibility.
  • Consider how your photos and videos might appear to diverse audiences. Is it authentic? Does it lack diversity? Is it inclusive? Is it an accurate representation? Could it offend someone?  
  • Ask yourself: Are you adding value or are you adding noise? The content you share should provide value to your followers. Consider this:
    • THINK first.
      • T - Is it True?
      • H - Is it Helpful?
      • I - Is it Inspiring?
      • N - Is it Necessary?
      • K - Is it Kind?
  • Amateur video can be perfectly suitable, and in some cases, better suited for sharing on social media. Short videos can be uploaded directly to a platform while longer videos should be uploaded to the college’s YouTube channel. Captions are required for both options. For more information about video, see our Video Guidelines.
  • Take care not to link to websites with misleading or false information.
  • Keep an eye on your comments section and direct messages. People will often ask questions related to your post — and sometimes questions that are unrelated but still important. It’s recommended that you reply within 24 hours, if possible, even if that means letting them know that you are working on tracking down an answer.
  • Do not engage with trolls. Social media trolls are people who deliberately provoke others by making inflammatory or offensive comments on social media.

Note: the college and its social media managers reserve the right to hide, delete or disable comments that violate the student handbook policy, the college’s Technology Use Policy or any other college policy, including our Virtues of Public Discourse


Consider your audience when thinking about what to share on social media. Who are you talking to? Who does your department or office serve and what are your goals? 

Students look to social media to learn more about important information, news and events on campus. Faculty and staff often use social media to share their work and expertise in addition to social networking. 

As a campus account, the majority of your audience is probably a mix of students, alumni, faculty, staff and families, however, prospective students may also be watching your accounts. Prospective students look at social media to get a better understanding of the culture of Hope College, the strengths of our programs and to read what others are saying about us. Prospective students want a preview of what they can expect to experience at Hope College. Be mindful of how your content may or may not attract prospective students to Hope.

Public Affairs and Marketing can assist you in an audience analysis if you would like to dig deeper into understanding your audience and your presence on social media.


Good social media content is accessible to all. Using the following best practices and resources will help ensure you are creating accessible content on your social media platforms. Social media apps are ever-changing, so our guidelines may change periodically as more accessibility features are available.


In general, social media content that is easy to read and understand will be more accessible for everyone, including people with cognitive disabilities and non-native English speakers.

  • Use short sentences and paragraphs.
  • Avoid jargon.
  • Spell out acronyms when first referenced.

Include subtitles, closed captions or transcripts

Comprehension is greater for everyone when videos are captioned. Plus, there are many circumstances where someone might want to watch a video but cannot have the volume up.

  • Many social media apps provide in-app captioning, however, some apps require the user to turn on/off captions rather than automatically displaying. Apps like CapCut and Veed are just two of many options to easily add automated captioning to your videos and ensure consistentcy. For videos approved to be hosted on the college's YouTube channel, Public Affairs and Marketing will assist with captions. 
  • If you have a podcast or other audio-based media, you should have a transcript readily available. 

Write alt text and image descriptions

Writing good alt text and image descriptions takes practice so don’t be afraid to give it a try.

Alt Text

Alternative text or “alt text” describes the content of images, media and graphics. Alt text should describe just the essentials and should be 125 characters or less.

  • Use simple, precise language and keep the explanation brief.
  • Avoid redundant information that is in text near the image.
  • Repeat text within an image verbatim.
  • Include information implied by the image, such as emotion or activity, and mention the layout if it is significant.
  • Do not include emoji or excessive punctuation in alt text, unless it is part of a text in the image.
  • Don't write “Image of”, “Photo of” or similar. A screen reader will add that by default. If the fact that an image is a photograph or illustration, or something else like that is important for understanding, it may be useful to include this in alternative text.

Read Alt-texts: The Ultimate Guide to learn more.

Image and Video Descriptions

Alt text gives the user the most important information while image descriptions provide further details. If you want to add a longer image description, add an open bracket at the end of your caption, type the phrase “image description:” and then write out whatever you want to add. Make sure to add a closed bracket at the end!


Tactile map of Hope College

Caption: Tactile maps are a tool for people who are blind or low vision, helping them to orient themselves and to plan routes. With the help of CIT and the Engineering department, we successfully created a 3D printed map of Hope College’s campus.

[Image description: A 3D printed map of Hope’s campus from Central Avenue to Lincoln Avenue. The left hand side of the map is printed in red and the right side is printed in orange. On top of the buildings, there are labels in braille.]

Camel Case Hashtags

Camel Case means capitalizing the first letter of each word in a hashtag. This makes the hashtag appear to have humps like a camel, hence the name Camel Case. This practice makes the hashtag easier to read and understand.

Example: #HopeFoward

Color and Contrast

To ensure that your contrast between foreground and background is accessible, WCAG AA requires a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text (less than 18-point font) and 3:1 for large text (18-point or greater). If you are looking for a contrast checker, we recommend WebAIM Contrast Checker. Here is Hope College’s color palette, including web accessible colors.

Never use only color to communicate important information or to prompt a response.

Ableist Language

  • Don’t use terms that describe disabilities in phrases that rely on these terms’ negative and ableist connotations. Example phrases to avoid include “that’s a lame idea,” “going into the situation blind,” “that idea doesn’t have any legs,” or “that’s insane!”
  • Don’t use outdated words such as “handicapped,” “visual impairment,” or “hearing impaired.” It is better to say “disabled person,” “person with a disability,” “hearing loss,” or “low vision."
  • Don’t use words referring to disabilities in ways that perpetuate ableist assumptions. For example, “wheelchair bound” suggests that the wheelchair is a restraint rather than a tool that promotes independence and freedom. “Wheelchair user” is more accurate and removes the negative connotation.


Emoji can be a fun addition to social media captions. However, excessive emoji use may reduce accessibility. Read about emoji and low vision to understand how emoji may impact your social media captions. 

Other things to keep in mind

  • Text on Instagram/Facebook stories isn’t readable with a screen reader. Consider making a post if the information is important, like event details. 
Hashtags and Tagging

Hashtags are used to categorize social media updates by keyword. People use the hashtag symbol (#) before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their social posts/tweets to categorize those posts/tweets and help them show more easily in a search. Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message on Twitter or Instagram shows you other posts/tweets that include the same hashtag.

A variety of hashtags have been established for Hope College traditions and activities to engage the Hope College community online. We encourage our college community to use these hashtags, and to avoid creating arbitrary hashtags for established college events and traditions. If you’re not certain whether an established hashtag exists, a simple search on Twitter will help, or you may inquire to Public Affairs and Marketing.
BEST PRACTICES for hashtags

  • Not every event or activity needs its own unique hashtag. Consider utilizing established college hashtags such as #GoHope or #HopeForward.
  • Capitalize the first letter of each new word for increased accessibility. For example, #GoHope #HopeCollege #HopeAdmissions. Not capitalizing the first letter of each word causes screen readers to read your hashtag as one single word.
  • When choosing a new hashtag, first verify by doing a search of that hashtag on Twitter to ensure it is not being frequently used for something else.
  • Choose a unique hashtag that is short and simple, yet relevant and memorable.
  • Avoid using trending hashtags that are not relevant to your office or department. For assistance on selecting the proper hashtag, please inquire to Public Affairs and Marketing.

Some of the most frequently used hashtags at Hope College include:
#Hope20_ _  (Refers to the class year)

Tagging Users and @Mentions

Tagging other departments and offices, including our college social media profiles (@HopeCollege) in your tweets and posts helps keep our campus connected. This may be done in conjunction with using hashtags. For example: “So excited for @HopeOrientation and to welcome first-year students to Hope! #Hope2024.”

Best Practices for tagging

  • Tagging @HopeCollege in your Instagram stories and posts allows us to add your post to the Hope College Story.
  • You may be wondering when to use a hashtag versus mentioning a Twitter handle (@username) in your tweets. Hashtags are used for searching and aggregating content about a topic. Handles are used to identify users. It’s okay to use both in the same post but not required.
Official Hope College social media accounts are an extension of our campus community and are managed by the same policies. Public Affairs and Marketing is the administrative manager of Hope College’s institutional social media accounts, including Hope Athletics. Campus departments, teams, clubs and offices with unique social media accounts are the administrators of their accounts and are responsible for the content they publish. Faculty and staff who use social media for professional use are also responsible for their own content.

FERPA does not forbid Hope College employees from using social media in the classroom, but common sense guidelines should be used to ensure the protection of students. Disclosure of information that is confidential by law or regulation under FERPA is prohibited. See FERPA guidelines

Use discretion in how you reference third-party content or external websites. In rare cases it may be appropriate for departments and offices to explicitly state their update does not indicate an endorsement from Hope College. For more information on creating content, see the Hope College Web Content Guidelines.


Users should understand that, when sharing to social media, they are expected to follow acceptable social behaviors and also comply with all Hope College and government regulations. 

The following social media activities by Hope College accounts are not acceptable:

  • Violation of any policy within the Hope College Faculty Handbook, Employee Handbook, or Student Handbook
  • Violation of any CIT policies
  • Violation of Hope College’s Virtues of Public Discourse
  • Disclosure of information that is confidential by law or regulation under FERPA.
  • Use of obscene, threatening, harassing or discriminatory language
  • Advertisements or promotions of commercial products, services, entities or individuals
  • Violations of the host site’s Terms of Service
  • Violation of copyrights or trademarks - See Hope's policy
  • Endorsement or opposition of political candidates and ballot initiatives
  • Duplicative comments by the same or multiple users, or repeated deliberately offensive or provocative online posting, also known as “trolling”

Student athletes and athletic accounts must also adhere to guidelines set by the NCAA. 

Additionally, communication through social media in no way constitutes a legal or official notice to Hope College, its offices, faculty or staff. Hope College social media administrators reserve the right to hide or remove user-generated content or comments in accordance with these guidelines. Content may be removed for violation of the above, at any time.


Resources for social media managers are available under the Guidelines section of the Public Affairs and Marketing website

To have your social media accounts added to the Hope College Social Media Directory, please contact social@hope.edu.