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Social Media Options

There are many social media options out there, and the number grows every day. The sites listed below are some of the more popular sites utilized by the W&M social media community.


Facebook is far and away the largest of the social media options with over 2.4 billion active monthly users from nearly every population demographic and corner of the world. On Facebook, individuals create a personal Profile to share photos, videos, links and updates. To follow the updates of a given Profile you send a "friend request" to that person. If your friend accepts, you will begin seeing their updates in your News Feed, which is an aggregation of all of the updates from your friends (as well as any Pages and Groups that you have followed). Keep in mind that the News Feed is curated by Facebook (using their Page Rank algorithm) to only show what Facebook thinks are the most interesting updates for you based on your previous activity and interactions on the site. Due to this curation, you generally do not see every update from every Profile, Page and Group that you follow.

For "non-people" (organizations, brands and businesses) there are two options for creating a presence on Facebook: a Page or a Group. Historically, Profiles had been created to represent an organization but this is in violation of Facebook's Terms of Service and those accounts can be shut down at any time by Facebook. If you have a Profile set up for your organization you are encouraged to convert it to a Page.


Facebook Pages are very similar to Facebook Profiles except they are for entities like organizations, brands and businesses rather than people. To follow the updates from a page you can "like" or "follow" that Page (rather than "friend-ing" a Profile). Facebook Pages are managed by administrators via their personal Facebook Profiles. The administrators themselves are anonymous on the Page, instead they post "as the Page" allowing the Page (like William & Mary) to post status updates, photos and videos, and create events. Pages can also comment, share and like other Facebook posts, profiles and pages. 


Facebook Groups are designed for small member-driven communities where a common topic is discussed and numerous people contribute equally to the discussion. Groups have administrators (known publicly to the group) who moderate the posts by members. In addition to posts from individuals, members share files and photos with the group. Groups are ideal for an academic or social class, or for coordinating discussion around a particular topic or theme, where you're interested in having lots of group participation and input.

There are three types of groups:

  • Open - all content is public, membership is open to anyone and the group will appear in a Facebook search
  • Closed - all content is private to members of the group, membership must be requested and approved by a group administrator and the group (but not its content) will appear in a Facebook search
  • Secret - all content is private, members must be invited by a group administrator and the group will not appear in a Facebook search
Which to choose? Groups vs. Pages

If you are officially representing your organization, department or office and you want to be able to post as your organization on Facebook and not just interact with a small community of users, it is recommended that you create a Facebook Page. If you are just creating a common space for discussion of a topic where all members have equal say then opt for a Group. If you have questions on which type to create, send an email to the [[creative,campus Social Media Coordinator]].


Twitter is a site where users post 280 character (or less) messages that can contain photos, videos or links. Due to its simplicity and ease of use, breaking news is often seen on Twitter before anywhere else. Twitter is a more fast-paced and real-time social media channel compared to Facebook.

On Twitter you can have either a private account where only people you approve (your "followers") can see what you post (called a "tweet"), or a public account where your tweets can be seen by anyone. When you "follow" someone on Twitter all of their tweets will show up in your Timeline in chronological order if you're viewing the "Latest Tweets" feed. Twitter also has "Home" option which will display top tweets based on an algorithm

Two terms to be aware of on Twitter are the "hashtag" and the "mention." A hashtag is used in a tweet to denote that you are talking about a specific topic. A hashtag is created by prepending the hashtag symbol, #, to a keyword or topic. Hashtags cannot have any punctuation, including spaces. For instance, if you're writing a tweet that talks about W&M's Opening Convocation, you can use the official W&M hashtag for the event: #wmConvocation. The at-mention is used if you want to reply to or mention another Twitter user in your tweet. If you want to talk about W&M on Twitter you can "mention" us by including our username on Twitter williamandmary, preceded by the "@" symbol: "The trees on @williamandmary's campus are beautiful this time of year." When you mention someone on Twitter they are notified of your post, and therefore they are in turn more likely to respond or share your content.


Instagram is a smartphone-based application that allows you to take photos or short videos, style them with filters and effects, and then share them. Sharing of the photos happens directly via the Instagram app or you can send the photos to other social media sites like Twitter or Facebook. Like Twitter and Facebook you can follow other accounts to see their updates; you can also comment on or like the photos of the people you are following. Instagram no longer uses a chronological feed like Twitter, they prioritize your feed similar to Facebook so the "most interesting" posts are seen first.

Instagram Stories are a series of photos or videos by an Instagram user, separate from the user's photos that appear in the main Instagram feed, that are shown at the top of the app. Each photo is shown for a number of seconds, can be augmented with drawing tools, stickers and text, and will disappear after 24 hours. This feature is similar to Snapchat.


YouTube is a video-hosting site. Most videos on YouTube are short (3 minutes or so), although verified accounts can upload videos longer than 15 minutes. You can easily embed YouTube videos from official W&M channels in your Cascade site as well as share them on other social media channels. William & Mary has an official main YouTube channel and we welcome submissions of W&M-related videos if they meet basic quality, accessibility and appropriate content standards. If you are planning on creating a series of videos or uploading multiple videos a semester, you are encouraged to start an official office or program channel (and let us know about it so we can list it on our social media directory). When you add new videos to your YouTube channel that you think would be of interest to the general W&M community [[creative,email the Social Media Coordinator]] to let us know so we can help feature them on the main W&M YouTube site.