Social Media Guidelines

Social media can be a powerful tool to communicate your message, create relationships, broadcast multimedia, and learn from professionals. This online guide provides useful techniques and helps you get started with social media. If you have any specific questions, need help with an unaddressed topic, or have additional information that you would like to share, please contact us. This guide will be continuously updated with relevant information, so please check back often.
Prepare a Social Media Plan
Before setting up your social networking site, it’s important to have clear goals and expectations. The following questions can act as a guideline for getting started:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What do you want to accomplish through social media?
  • How do you want your audience to respond?
  • Have you integrated social media into your larger communications plan? Social media should be complementary to your website and other marketing materials.
  • Which social media platform is right for your department? Do research and learn about the various social networking sites, then decide which one is best suited based on your audience and goals.
  • Do you have a plan of action for monitoring and moderating conversations on your social media page, positive or negative?

While these questions are meant to help you get started, a more formal social media plan can help you formulate your overall approach and involvement with social media.

For assistance creating a social media plan, please contact us. You can also read these relevant articles for more information on social media planning:

Start an Account
Your social networking site should not be tied to an individual’s work e-mail address, so it is recommended that you create an organizational or “functional” e-mail address. You can setup a shared account (e.g. — simply create a closed, private mailing list and use this as your social accounts’ primary e-mail address. This approach both creates a central address for your social media and establishes a backup mechanism where a group of people in your department can access your social media. Note that some services require you to create an e-mail account on that service (e.g. Flickr requires an e-mail address).

The following are additional guidelines as you start to setup your accounts:

  • Creating an account that is representative of a University unit or department should be done with the approval of your supervisor.
  • Keep your contact information accurate and up-to-date.
  • Carefully manage the password and access to your site.
  • Use careful consideration in choosing a name or title for your social media channel. In some cases, such as Facebook Pages or Groups, the name of the channel may not be changed once it has been created. Take into account the words, phrases, and nicknames that your target audience may use when searching for you with a search engine.
  • Use appropriate University of Chicago or department branding. Visit the Identity Gudielines for more information.
  • Reply to comments when appropriate, and do so promptly. We recommend that you check for new posts and comments daily.

Contact us if you need help establishing your social media accounts and identity.

Establish Your Voice
When many people ask how to “use” social media, what they often mean is how they should sound, or what style of writing to use. While there is never any one, universal answer to this question, here are some tips to get you started:

  • When in doubt, be yourself. In most instances, informal language will be the most effective method of communication. Your target audience will be more likely to interact with your content if it is presented with a casual, personable voice.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Share media such as photos, videos, audio, or even existing relevant articles. The best way to express your thoughts or opinions may involve few words.
  • Be helpful. In many cases, social media communicators are the new customer service representatives. If you can’t answer a question, apologize and refer the user to someone who can.
  • If appropriate, carry out live discussions. Social media is best used in real time.
  • Try to be consistently responsive. Direct replies and comments should be met with some form of response or acknowledgement, even if it’s just to say thanks for their ideas. Every bit of feedback is a measure of success for your social media campaign.
  • Your social media voice should exemplify a consistent, discernable personality. While this may be as simple as a change in syntax or as complex as evoking a particular attitude, the essential goal is to create a sort of characterthat users feel comfortable responding to.
  • Write deliberately and accurately. Just like in the real world, saying what you mean and meaning what you say communicates authenticity. Step one is to get people to listen to you; step two is to ensure that they trust your expertise.
  • Respect copyright laws. Always give credit and link to your sources.
  • Refrain from broadcasting private issues and topics.
  • Accept failures graciously. Acknowledging and correcting mistakes promptly will help maintain your rapport with your readers and, in some cases, even strengthen it.
  • Remember that you are speaking to a group, not just a collection of individuals. Adopt a more communal voice that sounds reasonable to the diverse backgrounds that compose that group.
  • Have a sense of humor. Readers skim online, and they’re much more likely to click on or share something that’s amusing.
University Identity on Social Media
When you represent the University of Chicago on social media, there are number of visual and naming elements that need to be designed and selected for your social destination. Familiarize yourself with the identity guidelines by visiting the Identity Guidelines, which provides information about the University’s chosen typefaces, wordmarks, and colors.

As you begin to setup and design your accounts, a number of social networks will ask you to upload a profile picture, or “avatar”; others, such as Twitter and YouTube, will also allow you to create custom backgrounds and adjust colors and other design elements.

Be mindful of how your avatar will be displayed within different social networks. For instance, many sites are available as mobile applications where your user avatar may be displayed at a smaller size than you’re used to seeing.

You might want to consult a graphic designer who can help you create an avatar or image that is easily recognizable at different sizes. While many sites will only allow image uploads less than a certain file size, it’s important that your image is created at the highest resolution possible. Contact us if you need help creating your social media identity.

Social Media Policies
Social Media Policies

Use social media responsibly and effectively by acquainting yourself with social media policies at the University and external websites.

The University of Chicago

The University of Chicago Employee Handbook


  • Facebook’s “Principles” – These ten principles are the priorities and foundation upon which the “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” are based.
  • Statement of Rights and Responsibilities – A more comprehensive version of the Facebook “Principles,” this document covers everything related to interaction on Facebook.
  • Facebook Pages Terms of Use – If you’re thinking about creating a Facebook Page, you’ll definitely want to read and understand these ten rules for content, conduct, and access.
  • Official Facebook Privacy Policy – This regularly-updated document outlines Facebook’s goals and expectations for network security and user safety.


  • Twitter Terms of Service – All Twitter users/accounts are subject to the terms outlined in this document, which includes information on passwords, privacy, copyright, and your rights.
  • Twitter Privacy Policy – A complete guide to any policies and procedures that involve user’s account information.


  • YouTube Terms of Service – This document contains critical information on issues pertaining to content, conduct, and intellectual property rights on YouTube.
  • YouTube Privacy Policy – For more information on how YouTube (and its parent company Google) keep your information and content safe, please read this document.

Events and Social Media

A key component to organizing your event should be building a social media presence. Your audience is already using Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch with the people, organizations, and issues it cares about. By creating a social media buzz around your event, you can instantly connect your audience to related content, generate a dialogue during the event, and increase overall participation. The following pages will help guide you as you begin to plan and promote your events.
Using Facebook for Events
The Facebook Events application is one of the platform’s most powerful tools, but there is an art to using it effectively. Learning the advantages of public versus private events, as well as how to send updates and ensure RSVPs, can determine event turnout and success. This can help increase event registrations, provide attendees with more advanced planning, and then allow them to upload photos and memories after the event has ended.

It is recommended that you review this guide’s Facebook page as a primer to the content on this page.

Before the event:

  • Create a Facebook event and invite your organization’s “friends.”
  • As the event nears, you can send important updates or reminders to everyone you’ve invited, or tailored messages to those who’ve RSVPed “yes” or “maybe.”
  • As the administrator of the event page, make sure the page settings allow people to post comments and pictures, which will make the page more dynamic. Doing this could even generate some great content after the event that you can use for post-event marketing efforts.
  • Make sure your event is set as public and that people invited can invite other friends.
  • Update the status on your organization’s permanent Facebook page to direct people to event details.

During the event:

  • Update your organization’s Facebook status telling friends the event is finally here, and let them know how they can follow on Twitter.
  • Notice anyone else has updated their status to do the same? “Like” it. This will push it to the top of people’s news feeds and let your Facebook friends know that you’re ready to engage.

After the event:

  • Thank people for coming! Send your Facebook event list a thank you for making the event a success, and include any relevant links, or the event’s photos, video and/or audio.
  • Encourage the Facebook event RSVPs to post their pictures, which you can share on your organization’s Facebook or webpage.
  • Direct people to friend your organization’s Facebook page if they haven’t already. A good way to do this is to post your own pictures of the event on your organization’s permanent Facebook page, and send a message to your event RSVPs sharing a link to the album.
Using Twitter for Events
Using Twitter for an event can allow you to connect with larger groups of people and increase awareness of your group’s message. Networking at specific times through the use of hashtags also helps develop a stronger relationship with your audience, as well as enhance your authority. This may include tweeting from live events, conducting interviews, real life meet-ups (also known as “tweetups”), and much more.

It is recommended that you review this guide’s Twitter page as a primer to the content on this page.

Before the event:

  • Before even sending out invitations, come up with a Twitter hashtag for your event.
  • Announce your hashtag at the same time you announce your event and in any post-event promotion.
  • Encourage people to follow and use the hashtag to keep up-to-date on any developments.
  • Embed a Twitter widget on your department or event webpage and be sure to configure it using your event’s hashtag. Visit the Twitter Resources page for implementation instructions. See the #uchicaption website for an example of this technique.
  • Use the hashtag yourself! The best way to promote a hashtag is to post relevant information incorporating it. For instance, any new speakers being added to a lecture series, fun tidbits about the kinds of things people will experience there, pictures from last year’s event, important reminders, etc.
  • Encourage discussion and feedback by asking questions, such as, “Weather says 60 degrees on Sunday: too cold for outdoor #ZenMed?”
  • Leading up to the event, your hashtag page will provide you with insights about what people are talking about and what they hope to get out of your event—so make sure you’re following it regularly.
  • Co-brand your event by using the UChicago hashtag (#uchicago) along with your event hashtag. This way, anyone already following #uchicago on Twitter will also see information about your event.

During the event:

  • Promote your event’s hashtag by creating signs that show users which hashtag to use for your event. Download the Hashtag Sign PDF to instantly create a sign, then print out the signs and hang them up on doors and walls.
  • In your welcome address, announce that you will be tweeting live, and remind people what the hashtag is.
  • Encourage people to tweet their observations, opinions, or pictures during the event. When people tweet live, they promote your event for people back home who may want to sign up for next year’s event.
  • If your event is a conference with several lecture topics, you could even promote new (very short!) hashtags for each topic (and make sure people are using both when they tweet). For instance, the Humanities Day keynote speaker could be tweeted as: #HumDay #Key. This promotes smaller discussions and more targeted feedback.
  • Follow the hashtag yourself. You can get immediate feedback on successes and issues, so you can respond in real-time (e.g., keynote speaker inaudible to the folks in the back? Fix the mic now!).
  • Tweet highlights and pictures throughout the day.

After the event:

  • Tell people how big a success the event was (and thank them for coming and following on Twitter). How many people showed? What was accomplished? How cool was that keynote?
  • Direct people to your organization’s website or mailing list to stay tuned for next year’s event details.
  • Reply to individual’s tweets, by answering questions or pointing them to relevant information from your event.

User Guides

Facebook User Guide
Facebook is the world’s most popular social network with over one billion users worldwide. Its users can easily find and create events, share and discuss recent news and multimedia, as well as connect with family, friends, and colleagues.

Educators and campus communicators around the world use Facebook Groups and Pages to broadcast their research and create rich conversations, while others take advantage of Facebook’s simple, yet powerful advertising platform.

Getting Started

  1. Visit Facebook and enter your information under “Sign Up.”
  2. Facebook will send you an e-mail. Confirm and activate your new account by clicking the link in the e-mail.
  3. Once you’re logged in, be sure to configure your privacy settings.
  4. Use the Search box at the top of the page to find people and things you know and love.
  5. Click “Add as friend” to send someone a friend request, or “Like” to become a fan of a Facebook Page.

Best Practices

  • Don’t be afraid to express yourself! Keep in mind, however, your Facebook profile should be consistent with how you wish to present yourself professionally.
  • Try to develop a schedule or general policy for sharing content on your Page. Post too seldom and you might be forgotten; post too often and you might be marked as spam.
  • Be careful of tagging other users in photos and videos if you aren’t sure they want the photo to be seen by their friends. This could be considered an invasion of someone’s privacy.
  • Most users quickly skim through their News Feed and typically “Like” or comment on posts that really catch their attention. Try different tactics and see what people respond to best.
  • For more information regarding privacy, conduct, and your rights on Facebook, please visit our Policies page or feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.
  • All University policies concerning plagiarism, profanity, obscenity, and discrimination are applicable when you represent the University of Chicago.
  • Facebook Status Updates are limited to 420 characters. Additional information can be posted in a comment on the Update, or by creating a “Note.”
  • Identify alumni by degree and year using UChicago style. Arrange multiple degrees in chronological order, from earliest to latest. For example: “Janet Davison Rowley, PhB’45, SB’46, MD’48, named ’11 #UChicago Alumni Medalist.”

Groups and Pages on Facebook

One of the most commonly asked questions among Facebook beginners and experts alike is, “What is the difference between Groups and Pages?” While both formats may be suitable for a broad array of projects, the answer to this question requires an understanding of your target audience and long-term goals.

Pages can be used for almost anything, including businesses, companies, institutions, products, artists and entertainment, causes, short-term projects, websites, and more. Users must click “Like” on the Page in order to interact with it, and only the user may connect his or her own account to the Page. Most recently, Facebook has enabled Page administrators the ability to “Like” other Pages so that it appears on their Page’s list of “Likes,” rather than on their personal profile.

Groups have evolved much since their original introduction and are now more similar to an online message board or forum. Any type of project where the administrator has a very specific idea of who should and should not be a member would be better suited as a Group. The four key distinctions from Pages are:

  1. Groups may be closed, or otherwise described as “private.”
  2. Members may add other Facebook users to the group without their permission.
  3. Members may upload any file type for other users to download.
  4. Groups may not create or manage advertising campaigns.

Common uses of a group might include: staying in touch with only members of your graduating class or program, starting a collaborative art project, or as a place for people in your industry to share news, research, and unusual document types.

Tools and Resources

Visit to start an Ad campaign or read more about how they may benefit your Page. Facebook offers many campaign creation tools to help ensure that the right people see your ads.


Use Facebook’s Insights analytics tools to track the success of your Page or Ad campaign. If you don’t feel comfortable with the data interface, all data can be exported into a .CSV file or Microsoft Excel document by clicking “Export.”

Examples on Campus

Facebook Pages for the Chicago Booth School of Business and Graham School of General Studies both feature custom “Welcome” tab that acts as the default landing tab for new visitors. The very attractive tabs feature an introduction, program information, helpful links, and more.

Contact us and let us know of some good examples of Facebook on campus.


To view policies related to Facebook, social media, and information technology, please visit the Policies section.

Help and Feedback

Contact us if you have any questions about using Facebook, or if you have feedback on this page.

Twitter User Guide
Twitter is one of the fastest and simplest microblogging websites. Whereas Facebook’s strength lies in connecting with people you know, Twitter’s strength is capturing the “buzz” of the moment using tweets, links, trends, and hashtags.

Twitter 101

  • Hashtags (using the number sign with a word directly following it, such as #uchicago) automatically create a link in Twitter that compiles all the tweets mentioning the topic. You don’t have to register a hashtag with Twitter; just start tweeting it.
  • Hashtags count toward the 140-character limit on Twitter, so keep it short and obvious. For instance, in promoting the event “Zen meditation at Rockefeller,” you could use the hashtag #ZenMed.
  • You can use the hashtag in the context of what you’re tweeting. An example: “Find your inner Buddha during #ZenMed. Only 4 more days to sign up!
  • Or you can use it at the end of your tweet … “Finals week getting you stressed? Chillax: #uchicago”
  • Pick out relevant terms from the Twitter Glossary

Getting Started

  1. Go to and enter your name, e-mail, and preferred username and password, then click “Create my account.” Try to pick a username that is short, easy to remember, and contains words or names users might search for you with.
  2. Twitter will send you an e-mail. Confirm and activate your new account by clicking the link in the e-mail.
  3. A page will appear that says “Find sources that interest you,” with lists of suggested users to follow, broken down by area of concentration. Click the “Follow” button to follow users that interest you. Click “Next” when you’re done.
  4. The “Contact Import” page will appear, allowing you to find people in your e-mail address book on Twitter. Click “Next” when you’re done.
  5. Go to your account settings to add a profile picture, bio, or website URL, or to adjust the design of your profile.
  6. Type and publish your first tweet! Tweets must always be 140 characters or less, which includes all links, usernames, and hashtags.

Best Practices

  • Accounts must be set to either public or private—there is no way to display tweets to just a handful or users. Tweets from private accounts will not appear in search results and users must request permission to follow you.
  • Tweets that begin with another user’s Twitter name—also known as “Replies” or “Mentions”—will only appear in your feed, the mentioned user’s feed, as well as the feeds of anyone who follows both you and the mentioned user.
  • If you need to share private or personal information with another user, always send a Direct Message (DM) instead of a public Reply. DMs are only viewable to you and the other user, and can only be sent to users that follow you back. For safety, never share sensitive data on any social media platform.
  • Retweets (RT) are one of the easiest and most popular ways to spread information through Twitter. Simply click the “retweet” link under a tweet you would like to share with all of your followers. It will appear in your feed regardless of whether other users follow the user who posted the original tweet.
  • There is no limit to how often you can or should tweet. Develop a flexible posting schedule that complements the times your target audience is the most active. (Tweets are now limited to 1,000 per day. Information can be found here.)
  • It is important to avoid any overtly “spam-like” behavior. Here are some suggested techniques to avoid while using Twitter:
    • Repetitive or misleading tweets
    • A “robotic,” or impersonal tone of voice
    • Over-reliance on Trending Topics as tweet subject matter
    • Never replying to users
    • Using third-party applications that send an automatic DM any time a user decides to follow you.
  • If you mention a user in a tweet, and they do not respond or decide to follow you, do not continue to actively pursue them.
  • Twitter is meant to be informal. Take note of the type of language and attitude that elicits the most responses.
  • All University policies concerning plagiarism, profanity, obscenity, and discrimination are applicable as you represent the University of Chicago.
  • Identify alumni by degree and year using UChicago style. Arrange multiple degrees in chronological order, from earliest to latest. For example: “Janet Davison Rowley, PhB’45, SB’46, MD’48, named ’11 #UChicago Alumni Medalist.”

Tools & Resources

There are many third-party applications that can be used with Twitter, making it easy to broadcast live events, host contests, pull data for research, and much more.

  • Always use a URL shortener when linking to an outbound web page. With only 140 characters per tweet, every word and letter is very important and some URLs can be very long. Twitter now has their own short URL service,, and there are many more, such as (which features it’s own Analytics tools),, and
  • Photography (especially mobile photography) is increasingly becoming one of the most popular uses for Twitter. Free-to-use sites such as TwitPic, yFrog, and Plixi provide easy ways to upload photos and sync with your account.
  • Twitter 101 For Businesses – Twitter has created this helpful collection of documents for marketers and companies hoping to maximize the success of their campaigns, featuring more best practices, a “Twitter Glossary,” advertising information, and more.
  • Some of the more popular Twitter applications include:
    • Official Twitter Apps – Depending on different technology needs and preferences, Twitter has developed an application for almost everyone. In addition to a variety of mobile apps, those using Mac OS X version 10.6 “Snow Leopard” or newer may download the desktop application version of Twitter from the Mac App Store.
      • Mobile: Twitter currently features official mobile apps for iPhone & iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone 8.
    • Echofon – Another free Twitter client that synchronizes your computer and mobile device, ensuring that you never see the same tweet twice. Echofon is available as a plug-in for Firefox or as a Facebook App.
    • Mobile: Echofon is currently available for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.


Many third-party Twitter applications and URL shortening services (see above) feature built-in analytics tools. However, Twitter does not currently offer any official analytics tools, except for selected users. There is speculationthat Twitter is currently developing these types of tools and will soon unveil them for all users. Other popular Twitter Analytics tools include:

  • Twitter Counter – With this tool you’ll be able to find out more about followers, friends, tweets, absolute and relative growth, as well as analyze trends and export data into a .CSV file.
  • Tweetstats — This is the best way to find out how many times you tweeted daily or monthly, as well as learn more about your replies and mentions.
  • Tweetreach — Tweetreach creates graphs and pie charts that analyze your tweet types and how many times they’ve been viewed using any and all Twitter applications.

Examples on Campus

The following are a few examples of Twitter at the university. Contact us and let us know of some good examples of Twitter on campus.

  • The Pritzker Podcast (produced by students of the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine) maintains a lively, yet casual Twitter account where they hold discussions that help inform the content of their podcasts.
  • The University of Chicago Magazine’s Twitter feed features retweets of news and information from all over campus. This provides a snapshot of what’s going on in different University departments, and helps other campus communicators who may not have as many followers.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style (published by the University of Chicago Press) provides writing tips, news of interest to copywriters, and promotions, all with a sense of humor. It also pays attention to others’ loving mentions of the Manual and retweets them.

Help and Feedback

Contact us if you have any questions about using Twitter, or if you have feedback on this page.

YouTube User Guide
YouTube allows users to post their video files and share them with other people. It is the premier video hosting and sharing website, and has something for everyone; from comedy spoofs to movie clips to music videos, if it has been on video it is probably on YouTube. Beyond videos, YouTube can bolster your social media campaign by allowing you to upload videos and share them through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, webpages, and more.

Getting Started

  1. Visit the Create Account page or Sign In if you have an existing Google/Gmail account. Follow the onscreen instructions to create your YouTube account.
  2. Once you’re logged in to YouTube, click where it says your new username in the upper right-hand corner and then click “Account” from the dropdown menu. On the following page, click “Profile Setup” from the left-hand menu; here, you may enter basic information about yourself or your project.
  3. Create and upload your first video! Click “Upload” at the top of the screen to either upload a saved video file or record live from your webcam. For more information about video specifications, see “Best Practices” below, or contact the UChicago Creative.
  4. Depending on the video file size, and your Internet connection speed, the upload may take some time to complete. While waiting, you may give your video a title, description, keywords (to make it more searchable), and select a suitable category. After the upload, your video will require some time to process before it becomes publicly viewable.

Best Practices

  • Watch this short, informative video, YouTube 101: How to Upload, for step-by-step instructions of how easy it is to put your video on YouTube.
  • While logged in to YouTube, go to “” to customize the look of your profile page, or “Channel.” Use the options at the top of the page to select from available themes, colors, and settings, as well as to add or remove information boxes (or “modules”) and specify featured videos and playlists.
  • The titles and descriptions for your videos should include any information that might potentially be used to search for your video. Titles must be less than 100 characters in length and descriptions might include a link to relevant information somewhere on the University’s website.
  • When creating keywords for your video, consider using synonyms and misspellings of words that users may use to search.
  • Although YouTube is very flexible when it comes to video file formats and settings, there are ways of creating your video that may work better than others. For this reason, YouTube has created a list of preferred video formats.
  • Some video editing programs (such as Apple iMovie) have a “Save/Export to YouTube” that will ensure your video offers the best-possible image and sound quality.
  • UChicago Creative is happy to assist with all your YouTube video creation needs. Even if you already have some skills with video editing and compression, we recommend you check first with CMIG to ensure your video meets our production standards. This will also make sure your video is compatible with other multimedia networks, such as iTunes.
  • If any of your videos become very popular (i.e.: has been viewed thousands of times), YouTube may ask you to become a “YouTube Partner.” This program allows YouTube to place advertisements alongside your video and, in return, you may earn revenue. DO NOT sign up for these types of programs without first consulting your supervisor and the University’s Legal Counsel, as it may conflict with official University policies.
  • Analytics: At this time, the only analytics information available for your videos and Channel can be found by visiting either your Account Overview or My Videos page. The Account Overview provides information on Channel views, subscribers, and overall video views, while the My Videos page will detail views, likes, comments, and responses for each of individual video. (Link: YouTube Analytics)
  • Mobile viewing: You may specify whether you would like your videos to be viewable on mobile devices by going to My Videos and clicking “Edit” for a particular video. On the Edit page, click “Syndication” at the bottom of the page and then check Yes or No.
  • Video embedding: You may specify whether users can embed your videos on blogs and social networks by going to My Videos and clicking “Edit” for a particular video. On the Edit page, click “Embedding” at the bottom of the page and then check Yes or No.

Tools & Resources

YouTube Help – Click here to troubleshoot any issues or technical concerns that you may be experiencing with your YouTube account.

Examples on Campus

The following are a few examples of YouTube at the university. Contact us and let us know of some good examples of YouTube on campus.

  • The official UChicago YouTube Channel features interviews, panel discussions, lectures, documentaries, and more from all corners of the University of Chicago community.
  • The University of Chicago Medicine and Argonne National Laboratory Channels both offer excellent examples of how to incorporate official logos, colors, and branding into your Channel design.
  • If you’re unsure how to write effective, searchable titles, descriptions, and keywords for your videos, look at any of the videos posted by Voices in Your Head (a UChicago a cappella singing group) and click “show more” underneath the video player.

Help and Feedback

Contact us if you have any questions about using YouTube, or if you feedback on this page.

Blogs User Guide
Blogs (short for “web logs”) are revolutionizing the worlds of journalism, communications, and publishing. Popular blogging platforms such as WordPress, Tumblr, and TypePad allow users to freely categorize, tag, and share their blog posts. Furthermore, blogs can automatically create an RSS feed that readers may subscribe to.

Getting Started

  1. Decide which blogging site or software will work best for you and your situation. Read more about Blogging Services and Software.
  2. All blogging sites will require three key pieces of information: an e-mail address, password, and a custom URL where your blog can be accessed (e.g.: Some other sites will require you to create a username.
  3. The blogging site will send you an e-mail. Click the link in the e-mail to confirm and activate your blog.
  4. At some point, you may be given a selection of “themes” or “templates” to choose from. Pick whichever one you think best compliments the subject matter of your content.
  5. Create your first post.
  6. (optional) Most blogging platforms will allow you to create a static page, similar to a post. Create one that features some basic information about yourself and a way for you to be contacted.

Best Practices

  • Check your blog’s settings or preferences. Most sites will give you the option to hide your blog from search engines, such as Google and Bing. (not recommended)
  • Most blogging platforms allow the ability to set specific posts as “private” or “password-protected.”
  • There is by no means a “right” or “wrong” way to blog. The majority of bloggers tend to create shorter posts (less than 500 words) that include a photo(s) or video.
  • Make sure you understand how your RSS subscription feed works. Readers that use an RSS reader, such as NetVibes or Google Reader, can use this to stay up to date on your blog posts without ever having to visit your site.
  • If available, enable comment moderation if commenting is allowed on your blog. Some sites will automatically hold comments for approval before they can be seen publicly. This helps guard against spam and unwanted content.

Blogging Services and Software

  • WordPress
    One of the most popular blogging platforms on the web, sign up for a free blog at or download the open source software from and install on a private web hosting space. WordPress can easily be used as a Content Management System to build websites that are more complex than the typical blog.
  • LiveJournal
    Easily the most informal of free blogging platforms, LiveJournal is engineered towards young people and those who may be new to blogging.
  • Drupal
    While Drupal may be too advanced for some users, this Content Management System features more flexibility to build exactly the kind of website or blog you need. To use Drupal, the software must be downloaded and installed to a private web hosting space.
  • Blogger
    Owned and operated by Google, Blogger (a.k.a.: BlogSpot) is another very popular, free blogging platform. Although very similar in form and function to WordPress, Blogger is more “bare bones” and caters more specifically to blogs and news sites.
  • TypePad
    TypePad operates using the Movable Type publishing software and is available at three different subscription levels (in the United States). Advantages of the TypePad platform include complete design customization, photo albums, and domain mapping.
  • Tumblr
    Tumblr has become known for its emphasis on attractive blog designs, photoblogging, and compatibility with sites such as Twitter, Google Analytics, and Feedburner. While Tumblr may be one of the most popular blogging sites, many use it more as a community where blogs are “Followed” rather than subscribed to, and posts can be “re-blogged” by other users.

Tools & Resources

  • If you’re looking to do some blogging on-the-go, BlogPress is a great mobile blogging app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Includes support for most major blogging platforms, such as Blogger, WordPress, TypePad, LiveJournal, Drupal, Tumblr, Movable Type, and more.
  • Need to share a PDF document with your readers? Rather than make them download the file (and potentially divert their attention from your website), use a service such a Docstoc or Scribd that will let you embed the PDF right in your blog post, just as you would a YouTube video.
  • For those who want only a quick, easy, and no-frills way to blog, consider Posterous. Blog posts are created by simply sending an email to; embed media in your posts by attaching photos, videos, or mp3s to your email message.


Many bloggers consider Google Analytics to be the most comprehensive and easy-to-use Analytics platform on the web. Information can be broken down in an extensive variety of ways, and users may create goals and benchmarks for their blog’s performance. However, many blogging platforms—see “Blogging software” above—feature their own, pre-installed Analytics software, or can be easily synced with a Google Analytics account. If your blog is part of the University network (i.e.: resides on the domain), there is a chance that Analytics tracking may already be in place for your blog. If this applies to your site, please first check with your supervisor or contact your website developer.

You may also use your CNetID and password to log in to Web Traffic, the University’s metrics website. It’s not as robust as Google Analytics, but it can allow you to pull general analytics from most websites hosted by IT Services.

Examples on Campus

The following are a few examples of blogs at the university. Contact us and let us know of some good examples of YouTube on campus.

Help and Feedback

Contact us if you have any questions about blogging, or if you have recommendations for this page.

Podcasts User Guide

Podcasting allows for lectures, panel discussions, and entire conferences to live forever on MP3 players and computers around the world. This means that a UChicago alumnus living in Beijing, China can listen to lectures and watch events held in Hyde Park, Chicago.

Audio and video files that are stored on a server can be referenced by an RSS feed, which users use to subscribe to and stay up-to-date on episodes or installments of your podcast series. Combine your podcast with a blog, or add it to the University’s official site on iTunes U to ensure your multimedia content reaches the largest possible audience.

Getting Started

  1. Using a digital video camera or audio recording program (such as GarageBand or Audacity), record the talk, interview, performance, or other event you would like to feature on your podcast. If you need help, reach out to UChicago Creative who can provide recording solutions for your project.
  2. Edit your podcast and export it into a single file. If you have questions regarding appropriate files sizes or compression settings, please contact UChicago Creative.
  3. In order for people to subscribe to your podcast—or to submit it to iTunes—you must create a RSS feed. This part can get a bit technical if you’re not familiar with the process, but there are several easy-to-use sites that will do all the dirty work for you.
  4. Make a media upload request to have your media uploaded to the University’s other sites: UChicago News, iTunes U, and YouTube.

Best Practices

  • Make sure your podcast feeds come complete with written episode summaries, proper author information, category tags (especially if you plan to upload to iTunes U), and attractive artwork.
  • It’s not necessary to own an expensive microphone or HD video camera to create a successful podcast. Your first priority should always be to create high-quality content. However, you should always try to provide the highest video and audio quality possible.
  • Concentrate on sharing the types of quality content that is of interest to your audience.
  • It’s best to create a blog or Twitter account to accompany your podcast, so subscribers can stay informed about when to expect new episodes or events.
  • For help with captioning your video content, contact UChicago Creative.

Tools & Resources

  • iTunes U is one of the fastest-growing destinations for people seeking courses and interesting talks from universities around the world. Contact us if you’re interested in adding your podcast to The University of Chicago’s iTunes U presence.
  • PodOmatic is a one-stop-shop for creating, hosting, and distributing a podcast. Upgrade to a PRO account for more storage space and bandwidth, analytics tools, and higher quality downloads.
  • For those who post their new podcast episodes directly to a blog, Feedburner will automatically clean up your existing RSS feed so that iTunes and other popular podcast readers can properly interpret it. Simply paste your existing RSS feed URL into the box on and check the box that says, “I am a podcaster!”


The key pieces of information podcasters are interested in are, typically, number of downloads/views and number of subscribers. If your podcast is connected to a blog or website, then you may use the site’s existing Analytics software to track how many times each episode has been downloaded or linked from other websites.

Examples on Campus

Help and Feedback

Contact us if you have any questions about podcasting, or if you have recommendations for this page.

RSS Feeds User Guide
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is an XML-based format for content distribution. It provides a simple way for you to be notified when content that interests you appears on your favorite websites. Instead of visiting a particular website to browse for new articles and features, RSS automatically lets you know when new content is available. Many news organizations and blogs offer RSS feeds for use in news aggregators, often called feed readers. Such feeds often include headlines, summaries, and links back to the original article online.

If you want to share your content on most social media networks, you will need an RSS feed. The RSS feed is an indispensable part of any social media campaign. You should plan to offer an RSS feed for any type of web media that will be updated regularly over time: blogs, event calendars, alerts systems, video sites, podcasts, and more.

Many people use RSS readers to subscribe to multiple blogs, events, podcasts, etc., and view them all in one location. Some readers are web-based, such as My Yahoo! and Google Reader; feeds can also be viewed using e-mail programs, such as Apple Mail and Microsoft Outlook.

Many people use RSS readers to subscribe to multiple blogs, events, podcasts, etc., and view them all in one location. Some readers are web-based, such as My Yahoo! and Feedly, while some e-mail clients include viewing feeds, such as Apple Mail and Microsoft Outlook.

Best Practices

  • Make sure your feed works properly. You can do this by going to and having your feed validated. If there are errors, the site will provide details on how to correct them.
  • Some websites will allow you to adjust how much of your content appears in the RSS feed. This is for people who want to ensure subscribers are still visiting the original website or blog. Typically, there are four ways to display your content in an RSS feed:
    • Title, full body, and all included media
    • Title, summary or excerpt of the body, all included media, and a link to the website
    • Title, summary or excerpt of the body, and a link to the website
    • Title and a link to the website
  • If your RSS feed is set to automatically update as soon as you click “Publish,” make sure you proofread your content several times. The way your content appears when you first make it publicly available is the way it will appear in your RSS feed. Depending on what software you use, any changes you make after publishing may not be reflected in the RSS feed.
  • If you decide to make the full body of your content available for your feed, include some call to action for subscribers to visit your website and leave a comment or share it with their friends. If social media functions only as a one-way conversation, then it’s not social.
  • Continue to create more content. Update your RSS file every time you post something new. It is recommended that you use a program or website that will do this part for you (rather than updating it manually with XML code). In most cases, whatever you used to create the RSS feed will also be what you use to update it.
  • Find an RSS feed reader and subscribe to your own feed (and some others, too, while you’re at it). It helps to monitor the way your content appears in the RSS feed in case there are formatting errors or other inoperable elements.

Tools & Resources

  • Feedburner allows users to re-route their existing RSS feed or XML file through their software and, in return, receive advanced tools and analytics data. Owned and operated by Google, the site helps users create more cleaned-up, accessible feeds, and even participate in an optional advertising system.
  • Feed43 can create an RSS feed for websites that don’t create one automatically. There is a bit of a learning curve here, but the site offers quick tutorials on how to specify different fields, tags, and variables for your feed. Free and paid accounts are available.
  • Twitterfeed is a revolutionary tool that makes both your RSS and Twitter work much easier. Any time your RSS feed is updated, Twitterfeed automatically updates your Twitter feed with a new tweet containing the title of the new content and a shortened URL.

Examples on campus

  • The UChicago News feed offers news and announcements about notable faculty, students, and alumni, as well as happenings on campus and University initiatives. Includes the article title, an excerpt, and a link to the website.
  • The Campus Notices page houses two feeds: IT Services announcements regarding technical outages and performance issues, and Facilities announcements regarding campus construction and other works.
  • The Oriental Institute Events Calendar is an example of a RSS feed formatted specifically with dates and times. Users can subscribe to stay up to date on all the exciting events taking place at this research organization and museum.

Help and Feedback

Contact us if you have any questions about RSS feeds, or if you have recommendations for this page.