University of Minnesota
University Relations
Our Brand: How to Convey It

Our Brand: How to Convey It.


University of Minnesota Social Networking Guidelines


Basics of social networking

Social networking is the use of web-based tools to interact with other people through text, images, or sound.

Those using social networking tools can:

  • Share media (text, photos, videos, audio).
  • Carry on live discussions.
  • Send "instant" messages.
  • Share and edit documents.

Some common social networking tools are Digg, Facebook, Flickr, Linkedin, MySpace, Twitter, UMWiki, UThink, Yahoo Buzz, YouTube. See the Social Networking Tools Comparison Chart (PDF) for descriptions of tools available through the University, as well as from outside resources.

Social networking tools should be selected as part of a broader communication plan and used to:

  • Provide easy access to University content and other content relevant to the U's disciplines.
  • Showcase the University and help build relationships with key audiences.

These requirements and guidelines clarify how social networking can effectively be used for conducting University of Minnesota business.

Before using social networking

Step 1… know what you're after

First answer the POST questions:

  • People. Who are you trying to reach?
  • Objective. What's the main thing you want from them?
  • Strategy. What kind of social interaction will lead to what you want?
  • Technology. What tool will best support that interaction?

Step 2… know how you'll know when you've acheived your goal

You should be able to answer these two questions:

  • How will you know if you've reached your audience?
  • How will you know if you've accomplished your objective?

Below are some articles describing how to best evaluate social networking efforts.

4 Ways to Measure Social Media and Its Impact on Your Brand

How to Measure Social Media Marketing Performance

How to Measure Social Media ROI for Business

STATS: 84% of Social Media Programs Don't Measure ROI

Step 3… look for a U of M-based tool

Using U of M tools helps to enhance the University's profile, promote a consistent University image, and support the U's investment in technology!

Consult with collegiate or departmental communications leaders before initiating any University business on an external site to make sure any new efforts fit within a cohesive and consistent communications plan.

University of Minnesota social networking sites should not be tied to any individual's email address whenever possible.

  • Use an organizational/functional email address for official University business.
  • Use a student organization email address for student sites.

And beware, if social networking technology is not owned nor administered by the University, the risk is high of losing control (ownership) of material. Always use University resources to store original content such as videos, photos, text, and more. If needed, place a copy of the content on the desired social networking channel.

See the Social Networking Tools Comparison Chart (PDF) for tools available through the University.

Best practices for establishing a social networking site

Establish an internal process

The web is not anonymous. Everything written or posted on behalf of the University can be traced back to the U and to a specific individual. Before launching a social networking site:

  • Notify your college/department/unit communications staff.
  • Vow to keep University contact information accurate and current.
  • Understand that passwords and administrator access to the site must be carefully managed.
  • Establish criteria for replying to comments, including timeliness and appropriateness.
  • Select a University of Minnesota social networking tool (PDF) whenever possible.
  • Avoid duplicating efforts. Be aware of current initiatives by coordinating with University Relations and other University units.


Raise awareness of your communications efforts by:

  • Link back—Provide links back to a unit's web page(s) from the social networking sites.
  • Look like the U—Use the University profile icons and tap into 150 years of brand equity.
  • Share your social networking site—Many University units and programs have official University social networking presences. Submit your unit's social media accounts to

Registering a new site

University of Minnesota social networking sites should not be tied to any individual's email address whenever possible.

Terms of use

Know the terms of service for the site being used. Also, understand that by using any site there is implicit agreement not to:

  • Send or post unauthorized commercial communications (spam).
  • Upload viruses or malicious code.
  • Solicit another user's login information or access her account.
  • Bully, intimidate, or harass any user.
  • Post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or gratuitously violent.
  • Do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.

House Rules

Post a link to the University's House Rules on any Facebook site when possible. The House Rules clarify the University's official position on monitoring sites, removing comments, and more.

Post this link:

Icons and other images

University logos are reserved for official University business and may not be used to promote non-University activities or imply endorsement.

The University wordmark must never be used on social networking sites or profiles. Instead, the University of Minnesota should be a part of the profile name. Units may use the block M and Goldy (or other campus mascots) in profile image spaces.

Profile image example.

Block M

The block M is our most recognized logo and one of the best-recognized logos in the state. All campuses, colleges, departments, and other units are encouraged to use approved, unaltered versions. See Profile images for the official social networking versions.

Additional information regarding the block M logo is available in Logo and Template Downloads.


Some logos, such as mascots, are unique to a specific University of Minnesota campus.


The Golden Eagle represents the Crookston campus. For questions regarding the Golden Eagle, email the Crookston campus Office of University Relations at


Champ represents the Duluth campus. For questions regarding Champ, email the Duluth campus Office of University Relations at


Pounce represents the Morris campus. For questions regarding Pounce, email the Morris campus Office of University Relations at

Twin Cities

Goldy Gopher represents the Twin Cities campus in informal communications. It does not replace the approved social networking profile images. Goldy Gopher may be used in locations other than those occupied by the profile image.

See Requirements and Guidelines for additional information.

Profile images

Use a profile graphic that supports University identification. Download customizable graphics from the social networking graphics page.

Social networking icons

To comply with social media terms of use, University units must use the official logos designed by the social media sites they use. For detailed information about use of social media logos, refer to the terms of use on the social media sites your unit uses.

Social media logos that were previously offered on the Our Brand website should be replaced by the icons found on the social media download page.

Social networking requirements and guidelines at the University of Minnesota

When conducting University business, it may not always be possible to employ the requirements that are in place for other University electronic publications.

When possible, units must include:

  • Equal opportunity statement
  • Name of the responsible publisher or information provider, and contact information
  • Copyright information
  • Maroon and gold
  • Block M

Videos must include the wordmark and copyright information.The University has standards and guidelines for using U of M trademarks in video.

Example of required elements on a Facebook profile page

Facebook example.

Click to see larger image


Profile/Site naming conventions

  • Use "University of Minnesota" as part of your profile name.
  • If space constraints exist on a site, use "UMN" as the first letters in the name (e.g., "UMNCSE," "UMN_CSE"). Avoid abbreviating the University's name (U of M, U of MN, etc.), since other universities have the same initials.
  • Use a profile graphic that supports University identification. Download customizable graphics.
  • Never use the University of Minnesota wordmark in a profile graphic.

Embedding content on U websites

Beware—your embedded content may be here today and gone tomorrow. Content embedded from a third party could be removed by that party, or the servers at the source may fail, without notice.

  • Embedded content must come from a profile set up as an official University of Minnesota account
  • Content must be related to University business.
  • Avoid embedding feeds that contain public comments.
  • Do not use images of people without their permission.
  • U of M images uploaded to Flickr must include the following text on the image itself: "Copyright University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • Do not embed widgets displaying photos of individual's profile pictures, such as Facebook's Photo Badge.

For questions regarding embedding content, email University Relations at

Copyright and intellectual property

Sharing of images, video, audio, or newspaper or journal articles, is subject to copyright law.

  • Conduct a fair use analysis and keep a record of it.
  • Include, whenever appropriate, a U of M copyright statement ("© 2010 Regents of the University of Minnesota" will usually suffice).
  • For the copyright's year range, use the original year of publication through the current year.

See the Board of Regents' Copyright policy, the Copyright Ownership policy, and Copyright Information and Resources on the U Libraries site for more information.

Code of ethics and common sense

  • Tell the truth.
  • Write deliberately and accurately.
  • Acknowledge and correct mistakes promptly.
  • Disagree with other opinions respectfully.
  • Disclose conflicts of interest.
  • Keep private issues and topics private.
  • Adhere to the University's Code of Conduct (PDF).

Confidentiality and privacy

Beware of the damages to individuals or the University that can result through inappropriate disclosure of personal or confidential information.

Possible damages:

  • Defamation lawsuit.
  • Copyright, patent, or trademark infringement claims.
  • Privacy or human rights complaint.
  • Workplace grievance under a collective agreement or unfair labor practice complaint.
  • Criminal charges with respect to obscene or hate materials.
  • Damage to the U's reputation and business interests.

Be aware of laws that may apply to your use of social networking.

Student education records

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is the federal law that protects the privacy of student education records such as grades, transcripts, and student identification numbers. For more information: see the Managing Student Records policy

Patients, research subjects, volunteers, and cadavers

Disclosing confidential patient and research participant Protected Health Information (PHI) is a federal offense. Faculty, staff, students, and affiliated residents and fellows should never publicly make comments about the care of a specific patient, especially online. Even acknowledging the care of a patient is an unacceptable disclosure of PHI.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations apply to comments made on social and online media and violators are subject to the same federal prosecution as with other HIPAA violations.

Patient privacy measures taken on social networking sites and other online media should be the same as those taken in any public forum.

Discussions regarding specific patients, research subjects, volunteers or cadavers should be avoided, even if all identifying information is excluded. It is always possible that someone could recognize the individual to whom you are referring based upon the context.

Under no circumstances should photos of patients, research subjects, volunteers or cadavers, including photos depicting any body parts of these individuals, be displayed unless specific written permission to do so has been obtained.

Patient contact

Interactions with patients within these sites are strongly discouraged.

Do not give medical advice using social media. Direct individuals with health inquiries to an appropriate hospital or clinic patient line.

Private patient information obtained on a social networking site should not be entered in the patient's medical record without the patient's knowledge and consent.

Clinical settings

Be aware of all related social networking policies applicable within specific health care settings.

Refrain from accessing personal social networking sites while at work or in clinical work areas.


Code of conduct and University policies related to social networking

Code of conduct (PDF)

Student code of conduct (PDF)

Brand Policy: Trademarks, Logos, Colors, and Seal

Confidentiality of information

Copyright and intellectual property policy

Copyright in the Age of YouTube

Academic freedom and responsibility

The Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota reaffirms the principles of academic freedom and responsibility. See the Academic Freedom and Responsibility Policy (PDF).

Academic freedom is the freedom, without institutional discipline or restraint, to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom, to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression, and to speak or write on matters of public concern as well as on matters related to professional duties and the functioning of the University.

Academic responsibility implies the faithful performance of professional duties and obligations, the recognition of the demands of the scholarly enterprise, and the candor to make it clear that when one is speaking on matters of public interest, one is not speaking for the institution.

For more information, see the Academic Freedom and Tenure website.

Discipline-specific codes of conduct

University of Minnesota students should be aware of additional discipline-specific codes of conduct, which may apply to their social media activities.

Medical Student Statement of Intellectual Responsibility