VIMS Social Media Strategy & Policy

Supervision of social-media channels at the Virginia Institute of Marine science is the purview of the News & Media Services office. Please [[v|vimspr,consult with us]] for best practices before considering the use of social media for strategic communications at VIMS.

Oversight of accounts

Internal units at VIMS that wish to start their own social-media account should first contact [[v|vimspr, the VIMS social-media manager.]] Please be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Who is your intended audience?
  • What is your goal?
  • How will you measure success?
  • How frequently do you plan to post?
  • What type of content do you plan to post?
  • Who will be the primary administrator? Is there a back-up administrator available when needed?
  • Will the administrator monitor the account on a daily basis to reply to any questions/concerns?
  • Is there a compelling reason for not using the VIMS website and/or our existing social-media channels?

General resources for social-media strategy, guidelines, policies, and best practices can also be found on the William & Mary website.


The purpose of social media at VIMS is to:

  • increase awareness of our three-part mission of research, education, and advisory service
  • engage target audiences by sharing content that clearly shows the value we bring to society and the environment
  • promote a community of engaged "brand ambassadors" for VIMS
  • reinforce our brand and messaging
  • drive traffic to the VIMS website
  • create a sense of community with both internal and external audiences
  • notify external audiences of upcoming events and provide access to logistical details
  • alert traditional media outlets to newsworthy stories

The social-media community at VIMS values:

  • responsiveness to stakeholders
  • active feedback from stakeholders
  • conversation, the exchange of ideas, reflection
  • user‐generated content
  • content that is shared via retweets, likes, and comments
  • communication that offers a sense of place and thus differentiates VIMS from other social-media sites
  • fun! (the chance to show a culture beyond our reputation)

General policy related to social media at VIMS includes the following:

We do

  • make every effort to ensure our content is factual and based on scientific evidence
  • encourage reasonable dialogue and offer a balanced perspective and multiple points of view
  • provide proper attribution when citing or sharing content produced elsewhere

We do not

  • advocate, persuade, sanction, or prescribe actions concerning legislation or policy issues
  • use or allow comments that contain hate language
  • allow posts that would be offensive to a reasonable person
  • use profanity, or placeholders of profanity, in posts
  • allow comments that are personal attacks against public figures, or members of the VIMS community
Brand Management

When you use social media on behalf of a unit at VIMS, your channel should reinforce the VIMS brand. Consider the following:

  • everything you post on social media affects VIMS’ reputation; either enhancing the institutional brand or detracting from it
  • we expect high editorial quality. This includes limiting typos, grammatical errors, and subpar content
  • pages should use compelling images that reflect the work of that unit
  • whenever possible, add @Virginia Institute of Marine Science (Facebook), @VIMS_News (Twitter) and @vainstituteofmarinescience (Instagram) to your social-media posts (this adds legitimacy and ties your channel to a strong brand)
  • do not feature the VIMS logo as your profile photo, as users could mistake the page for the main VIMS page

The News & Media Services office will continue to focus on:

  • systematic use of content tied to central themes and messages of VIMS
  • measurement and return on investment
  • experimentation with Facebook ads
  • sharing engaging user-generated content
  • enhancing live events via social-media tools

Content is king. Make it great. Great social-media content:

  • is factually accurate
  • shows the institute in a positive light
  • leverages our wealth of visual imagery to make an emotional connection with audiences
  • encourages interaction via shares, comments, likes, and other forms of social-media connectivity
  • uses relevant hashtags to reach a broader audience
  • is not verbose (Shakespeare was right that "Brevity is the soul of wit.")