These guidelines are meant to help followers of University of Iowa social media platforms easily recognize that your account is officially associated with the university.

Visual guidelines

Avatars and profile pictures. Profile and cover images should be consistent across your unit’s social media channels. Additional tips:

  • Use a unit-specific photo or the official University of Iowa avatar.
  • Unique graphics created for time-limited events, campaigns, programs, or retail products/services located on campus can also be used.
  • Avoid adding text to profile pictures; it is often too small to be seen on a mobile device. Don’t include the name of your college or unit—these are listed on your profile and next to every post you publish.

Cover or channel header images. Photos work best for header images because they resize differently on desktop and mobile; text and graphics can get cut off or covered depending on the device a visitor uses to access your channel.

Photo and video content. Strong photography and video are essential tools for telling the University of Iowa’s story on social media.The university’s library of professional photos is available via the UI Photoshelter site.

Graphics and illustrative content. When creating graphics for social media, simple concepts are better. Keep your graphics clear of text as much as possible.

  • Facebook research shows that graphics with text perform worse. Consequently, Facebook’s algorithm heavily penalizes posts that utilize text and graphics.
  • Most social media use is done on a phone, and reading tiny text on a graphic doesn’t create a positive user experience. Details are best communicated in the text of your social media post. Let your graphics tell a visual story.
  • Social media image size guides provide sizing and scaling information for each platform.

Approved University of Iowa avatars

IOWA Social Media Avatar


Download avatars

Avatar usage and restrictions

Official avatar on sample social media post

Unit and program accounts

Use the official avatar for unit- or program-specific social media accounts.

Prohibited example of a lockup used for social media avatar

No lockups

Don’t use unit lockups for avatars. They become too small for legibility and are redundant to the account name listed at the top of every post.

Prohibited example of the Tigerhawk used for social media avatar

No secondary logos

Don’t use other secondary logos for social media avatars.

Before you create a channel

  • Consider resources. Social media channels are time-consuming. Channels created and left dormant, neglected, or unused are a poor reflection of the university. Identify the time required to run the new channel and the resources that will support it.
  • Consider volume. Content should be posted regularly. To do it right, most channels need at least one post per day, and some channels like Twitter need multiple.
  • Consider content. Demonstrate your ability to produce the necessary content. Create a calendar and fill out the first three weeks of content. This will help you determine if there is enough content for a new channel. If not, consider ways to collaborate and spread messages through other established university channels.
  • Know your audience. Is it large enough to warrant a standalone channel? The latest Pew research provides a snapshot of how different demographics use social media. Consider what information will be truly valuable to your audience. Channels should not be comprised solely of inherently self-serving content.

Best practices

  • Create and document a social media strategy before going live.
  • Plan a majority of content at least two weeks in advance. Create a content calendar and schedule posts ahead of time. Looking ahead allows for more creativity, collaboration, and strategic planning.
  • Establish criteria for when to respond, ignore, or delete comments. Determine who you should contact about offensive posts and who needs to give approval before responding.
  • Determine how you will decide if the channel is successful. Assess in three months, six months, and one year whether the channel is fulfilling your goals and meeting pre-determined measures of success. If not, make adjustments or delete the channel.
  • Monitor and share analytics for your channels.

Training and resources

Dive deeper into these topics with the social media team. They can help you learn how to effectively launch and manage your channels. From developing a foundational strategy to best practices you can quickly implement in your day-to-day efforts.

Creating a social media strategy

A social media strategy is an essential building block for the success of your channels. Come learn how to create a customized strategy for your area. We’ll look at how goals, audiences, tactics and metrics all tie-in together.

Run an effective social media presence

After creating a strategy, it’s important to consider a number of best practices. Become a high-performing social media manager by learning and following five of the most valuable tips for running strong social media accounts.

Analytics template

Use our editable report template to share a high-level overview of analytics from your channels.

Graphics and illustration resources

The following tools are recommended for developing visual content. Note: University licensing is available for Adobe Creative Suite. Please contact your local ITS consultant to request departmental approval and funding.

Management and analytics tools

The following are recommended tools for tracking analytics and managing your social channels.


Contact OSC social media director Michael Benning at