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10 Ways to Make Social Media Channels More Inclusive

Social media is a powerful communications tool. So is language. Both shape our perception of the world in both subtle and obvious ways. As social media managers and marketers, that power comes with great responsibility.

This fall, Colorado State University’s Inclusive Communications Task Force developed a best practices quick guide for inclusive communications for campus communicators. Rooted in CSU’s Principles of Community (Inclusion, Integrity, Respect, Service, Social Justice), the following recommendations from the task force are ways to make social media channels inclusive. The suggestions are not official policy, required or enforced. These suggestions for campus communicators are general best practices, and it is worth noting that language is always evolving and individual preferences may vary.

1. Use inclusive pronouns (they/them/theirs, students, Rams, everyone).

Students walking on campus

2. Use the yellow emojis when addressing a diverse audience.

Geese on lagoon at sunset

3. Avoid gendered emojis when possible. Instead use one of the variations of the yellow smiley faces or object emojis.

Van with bike and canoe

4. Don’t assume gender or identity online.

Address people by their names or usernames when responding to their comments and messages. This is particularly important for customer care/service interactions on social media.

Instagram text message5. Use people-first language (person with a disability vs disabled) unless the person indicates another preference.

An individual’s preference for how they want to be identified should always come first. That way, for example, if someone uses something other than people-first language to identify themselves, the content creator knows to honor that.

6. Include descriptions on photos and captions on videos (for context and screen readers).


7. Use title case for hashtags for screen readers (#ProudToBe #ColoradoState #CSURams).

Photo on camera of touchdown

8. Authentically represent diversity.Photo album from Ram Welcome

9. Share multiple voices and perspectives.

Proud To Be A CSU Ram is our student-run Instagram. A different student hosts the account each and every week.Screenshot of Instagram account


This is the video we (#CSUSocial) produced during move-in this year.

From Family to Ramily

Going to college is a big deal… for parents, too.

Posted by Colorado State University on Friday, August 17, 2018

10. Establish community guidelines.

Community guidelines inform social media users of how they may engage with a social media channel. Guidelines encourage users to engage with the brand and one another in a respectful and inclusive manner – and to keep discussions on topic. This is also an opportunity to let users know that obscenities, profanities, personal attacks, threatening, harassing, discriminatory, trolling, hate speech, inappropriate or abusive content and defamatory comments are not permitted and will be deleted.

As a team, we continue to learn about inclusive communications and work to make our social media channels inclusive spaces.