Social Media Policy

Follow these guidelines for Extension social media accounts.

The University of Illinois Extension brand is trusted and respected across the state of Illinois and beyond. Sharing research-based, high-quality information with our audiences is critical to our mission.

Social media platforms are responsible for a large piece of storytelling, education, and awareness. Illinois Extension encourages the use of social media as part of an overall marketing and communications strategy to connect with our diverse audiences across the state.

Representing University of Illinois

Verified Illinois Extension social media accounts, whether at the state, program, unit, or topic-level, not only represent the organization, but also the University of Illinois System as a whole. Therefore, maintaining high-quality and secure social media accounts is crucial to the brand reputation of Illinois Extension and University of Illinois. 

State and unit-level accounts are a direct connection to the university and should be treated as a university resource. They need to be secure and may be subject to public records requests under the Freedom of Information Act and other laws and policies.

Outlined here are official protocols for managing Extension-branded social and digital media accounts, including groups and other site-specific spaces owned and run by Extension personnel.


This policy should be followed in conjunction with any unit or program team policies currently in place. 

  • Illinois 4-H clubs should refer to the Social Media Policy for Illinois 4-H Clubs.
  • Eat. Move. Save. has one official account per social media platform that is managed statewide. Local Illinois Extension offices and units should not start their own social media accounts exclusively for SNAP-Ed or EFNEP programming. Staff can submit photos, success stories, and other ideas for consideration for posting on the statewide accounts.


Guidelines and Policies

New social media accounts, including Facebook Groups, must go through a state marketing and communications (MarCom) approval and strategy process. This process should include your unit director or program team leader.

Social media account guidelines and policies fall into three categories:

  1. Current, active accounts
  2. Inactive accounts
  3. Procedures before you set up a social media account


Managing Account Access Policies

  • Social media accounts must represent state, program, or Unit-level entities. In certain cases, such as Twitter or Instagram, an individual-branded professional account may be requested.
  • For 4-H specific accounts, please also refer to the 4-H Social Media Policy.
  • Maintain a document in a secure location with all personnel who have access and the passwords for each of the unit’s social media accounts. An audit should be done at least once a year to make sure this document is up to date. Remove people who no longer have access to post to the unit account, from the document and the social media platform.
    • An example of an accepted location would be within our Box system, which requires a password, authentication, and limited access to those who need it.
  •  Ensure that at least two people have access to every social media account.
    • Only Illinois Extension employees, not volunteers, may be assigned roles/permissions and be allowed to post on all platforms. Volunteers can still develop content, just not have access to posting on the actual account.
    • The exception to this rule would be if contracted outside vendors needed temporary permissions to run ad campaigns, etc. Please reach out to the state communication team for more details.
  • Where possible, at least TWO administrators should be assigned to a social media account.
  • Use unit/program/team emails, rather than personal ones, for account email needs. When possible, use an official unit/program team email account so that those who need access to the social media account can obtain it. This helps reduce the risk of units losing access to the account when staffing changes occur.
    • The exception to this rule is a platform such as YouTube, which requires Gmail (Google-based) emails to assign permissions.
  • When possible, use the account management tools provided by the platform. The tools for group management of social media accounts vary from platform to platform. Facebook and YouTube can have individual permissions assigned. Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are single sign-on accounts.
  • If working with outside vendors, limit account access to only what is necessary. Use secure practices when sharing account information by either assigning roles or creating a temporary password that is changed at the end of campaign.


Account Security Policies

  • Only people who are currently managing the account should have the current password. Change passwords quickly each time someone who has access leaves the unit/program/team or changes roles and no longer needs access to the account. Update the established password document for the unit/program/team each time a password changes.
  • New passwords should be securely shared. Admins should be notified of new passwords either over the phone or in-person. Do not share passwords via email.
  • Follow best practices for creating strong passwords. Make sure passwords are complex and unique for each platform.
  • Set up Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) on all accounts.
    • Two-factor authentication for permission/role-granting platforms
      These social media accounts allow individuals to be assigned roles depending on the job duties/responsibilities required on this platform. Every person assigned a role is required to 2FA their individual social media accounts to ensure the page or group they have permissions to are safe and secure.
    • Single login platforms
      These social media accounts only have one login for the entire team, and will therefore require a single team/unit/program person to be the 2FA point of contact.


Important General Items

Facebook accounts must be in the form of a Facebook Page, which are designed to be public-facing and open to all.

  • Needing to “friend” an individual for content, even if content is being shared publicly, is not an accepted use of Facebook profiles for branded, professional purposes.


Anyone currently using individual Facebook profiles in a professional capacity should contact the state MarCom team to move this to a Page.  


Inactive Accounts

For accounts that have been inactive for an extended period of time (approximately a year or more), or accounts that do not plan to continue, we recommend removing and deleting these accounts to maintain brand integrity and safety.

  • If you, or a member of your staff, have access to these accounts, follow the specific platform’s guidance for removal and deletion.
  • For accounts that Extension staff no longer have access to, if the former administrator can be reached, please request that they remove and delete the account/s.
  • There will be times that, for various reasons, we may no longer have access to inactive accounts. In this case, you may request directly through the platform to have the account removed. Depending on the platform’s procedures, you may be required to demonstrate why this is a valid request. Please refer to the specific platform procedures, and reach out to the state MarCom staff if you have any questions.

Under the new policy, offboarding procedures that transfer or delete accounts before personnel leave should reduce the number of inactive accounts.


Platform Best Practices

For all platforms, follow the account access and security guidelines, including documenting who has access to accounts, as well as implementing two-factor authorization.

Design templates for social media graphics are available on our website.

There are many approaches to using social media that vary depending on your goals, but what follows are general considerations for our most commonly used platforms.



  • Use Facebook Pages instead of a profile since they are designed to be public-facing and open to all.
  • Include proper text and visual branding and identification on official pages. If you need assistance developing assets such as profile and cover images, please submit a marketing request and the state MarCom team.
  • At least two administrators should be assigned to the account. This additional person could be a unit communicator, or in some instance, the unit director.
  • Include the social media commenting policy in the “About” section. The state Illinois Extension page has ours listed under the “Details about you.”
  • Do not delete or hide comments or block people without seeking guidance and approval from the state MarCom team first. The exceptions to this are if the comment is obviously SPAM or enters into threats or hate speech.
  • Include alternative text on images.
  • If multiple individuals have access to the account and are responsible for posting, establish a plan for scheduling content in an organized, consistent manner.



  • Twitter is all about engagement, so the more you interact with other relevant accounts, the better.
  • When retweeting, carefully consider the legitimacy and origins of the content and account you are promoting.
  • If posting content, take advantage of the “Tag people in photo” option. Tagging the photo does not count towards your character limit.
  • If multiple individuals have access to the account and are responsible for posting, establish a plan for scheduling content in an organized, consistent manner.



  •  Instagram is about sharing high-quality images and video, as well as engagement with other accounts.
  • When relevant, tag other accounts in the post text or on the photo itself.
  • Add alternative text to your images.
  • Consider making Reels a part of your strategy. This might not work for everyone, and that is okay.
  • If multiple individuals have access to the account and are responsible for posting, establish a plan for scheduling content in an organized, consistent manner.



There are many ways to optimize your YouTube channel and videos. Check out this best practices guide and companion webinar for more information.

  • YouTube functions as a massive search engine; it’s the second largest search engine behind Google. The more content you provide – detailed descriptions, timestamps (aka video chapters), keyword tags, channel customization – the easier it will be for people to find your channel and videos.
  • There may be times where you will need to identify a video as “Made for Kids.” For more information, refer to this YouTube Support article.
  • Use strong thumbnails that make titles easy to read. (See Canva templates for examples.)



Pinterest can be a strong component of your marketing strategy when used in line with its purpose.

  • Use vertical images in a 2:3 aspect ratio (i.e.: 1000 x 1500 pixels).
  • Videos can also be used. Aim for videos that are 15 to 60 seconds long.
  • Use organizational branding on pins. Avoid placing logos in a graphic’s lower-right corner; they will get covered up by Pinterest icons.
  • Be clear and descriptive in your titles and descriptions. Titles should be 100 characters or less, and descriptions 500 characters or less.
  • Include a URL in the post.




The content creator is responsible for making sure that information on Illinois Extension’s social channels is accessible.

For more information:


Before you request set up for a new account

REMINDER: New social media accounts, including Facebook Groups, must go through a state MarCom approval and strategy process. This approval process should include your unit director or program lead. When you are ready to discuss, submit a marketing request to the state MarCom team.

Successful social media outreach is more than just setting up an account and creating a few posts. Developing content and building an audience takes time and effort; make sure you have that time so the return on investment is worth the adventure.


Considerations Before Starting a New Social Media Account

Do your research. Social media algorithms and consumption habits are constantly changing, and a dedicated social media strategy is more important than ever to find success.

Ask yourself

  • What is the purpose of this account? How does it help you meet your goals?
  • What audience(s) are you trying to reach? Are they on the proposed platform?
  • Do you have the resources (e.g., time) to make a social media account work for you? It requires content curation, creation, engagement, metrics tracking, and more.
  • What will your content management process look like? Do you have the time to consistently post high-quality content and engage with your audience?
  • How will you track your progress?
  • Do you really need an account? What other accounts are available in your unit/program that could help share your message?
  • Is social media your only pathway to reaching your audience, or is it part of an overall marketing and communication strategy?


Offboarding Employee Process

Before an employee leaves Illinois Extension, take steps to ensure account security.


  • For platforms where roles/permissions can be granted (Facebook, YouTube, etc.): Remove the individual’s permissions and roles associated with the account.
  • If this individual is an admin on an account, other admin(s) should remove them from admin status, and depending on timing, remove them entirely, or decrease their access level so they can still post/interact – then remove when the employee has official offboarded.
  • For single sign-on platforms where everyone has access to the same login/password information (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.): Update and change the password prior to their departure.
  • If the account is being passed on to another employee, do this before the individual leaves Illinois Extension. If there is currently no person to take their place, hand the account over to the unit communicator or the person responsible for unit accounts, until a handoff can occur.
  • The offboarding employee can maintain their own personal social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram, or other single sign-on platforms, and convert any official professional account prior to their departure to either a non-branded, personal account (and updating their bio accordingly), or by closing/deleting the account entirely.