College staff and faculty administering institutional social media accounts are expected to follow the Social Media Procedures listed below. These procedures and best practices are broad in nature as social media technology is constantly evolving and no one set of guidelines and procedures can address all the particular situations and circumstances that may arise.
The Marketing and Communications department maintains and monitors official college accounts on several social media sites as a way to engage with students, provide announcements and information about upcoming events and activities, as well as to provide a forum for open discussion among students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community. As the sentry of social media, the Marketing and Communications department is responsible for establishing, maintaining, and enforcing Western's social media procedures as necessary.
Social Media Procedure
- The social media sites that represent Western must:
- Abide by the college Acceptable Computer Usage policy and other policies listed in the "Related College Policies" section of the Social Media Policy.
- Have been created through the submission of the "Social Media Account Request" form (Attachment 2) and be registered with the Western Marketing and Communications department. Requests must be made by a Western staff or faculty member.
- Have a minimum of one college faculty or staff member as an administrator of the online account at all times. College employees who serve as online administrators are charged with managing and monitoring content on their official college accounts on a regular basis and are responsible for removing any content that may violate college policies.
- Provide administrative access to all sites representing Western to the Marketing and Communications department. An individual, designated by the Marketing and Communications department, will be added as an administrator or provided administrative login information. This is required for all college affiliated social media accounts.
- Work with the department on the images, color palette, and naming conventions for all online sites.
- The Marketing and Communications department will make the final decision in any situation regarding the use of social media and ensure the pages are set up properly according to a social media site's policies and guidelines.
- The Marketing and Communications department reserves the right to enforce these procedures by removing links to third-party websites and content and/or directing the administrator remove or change the site or online content as needed.
- Fans and followers of official college accounts agree to respect the terms of individual social networking sites and understand that Western officials have the right to remove any content that is deemed to be offensive, inappropriate, of a harassing or threatening nature, or can be construed as defamation of character. Western has the right to block posts from fans or followers who violate these guidelines. Profane language will also be removed.
- The Marketing and Communications department, in consultation with the administration, which includes but is not limited to, the office of Academic Affairs, Student Development and Success, Finance and Operations, Strategic Effectiveness and Engagement, and/or the President, will resolve any conflicts or concerns regarding social media by reviewing the concerns and meeting with the affected parties.
- Official student clubs and organizations (i.e., official chartered student groups recognized by the Student Life office and governed by the Student Organization Handbook) are permitted to have an official presence on social media sites with the approval of the club's advisor and the Marketing and Communications department. Guidelines and procedures outlined in the Social Media Policy and Social Media Guidelines document must be followed.
Social Media Content on College Accounts
- Content will be posted on a regular basis to keep the account current and answer questions in a timely manner. Page administrators are expected to respond to user concerns and address issues of inappropriate conduct with warnings issued as needed.
- Content will be accurate, concise, student-oriented, sensitive to diverse audiences, and respectful to the college, its employees, students, and the community.
- All content must relate directly to College business, programs, and/or services. Content placed by administrators cannot promote individual opinions or causes which are not directly related to College purposes. Quotes, "memes", and other viral material is permitted provided it is related to college purposes.
- Posted content will adhere to established college policies relating to electronic communication for both students and employees including, but not limited to the following Student Handbook sections: Computer and Telecommunications Usage, Student Rights, Code of Conduct, Privacy of Records, Nondiscrimination; and the Student Organization Handbook.
- Concerns of abusive or inappropriate content will be reported according to the procedures posted on the social media site and shared with Western's Marketing and Communications department at email@example.com.
Best Practices for Effective Online Communication
To be successful on social media, faculty, staff, and students posting on behalf of Western should:
Be respectful of others.
Whether you are an administrator or a fan/follower, always treat others fairly. Be sensitive to different perspectives and viewpoints and never react in a defensive or hostile manner.
Be accurate, honest, and transparent.
Make sure you are providing accurate information. Take the time to verify information before it's posted. If you make an error or need to post a correction or retraction, do so publically so that others are aware of it. Do not say anything that is dishonest, untrue, or misleading.
Respect confidentiality and privacy laws.
Use good judgment about content and respect privacy laws. Do not post confidential or proprietary information about the college, its students, its alumni, or staff and faculty. Follow college policies and federal requirements such as FERPA. If in doubt, contact the Marketing and Communications department for guidance.
Don't violate copyright laws.
Follow the laws governing copyright and fair use dealing with copyrighted materials owned by others, including Western's own copyrighted material and brand. It is good practice to give credit to the owner/author/creator for content that is not your own and provide a direct link or URL to that content if possible.
As an employee, remember that you represent Western. You are the public face of the college and should always consider the intended audience when posting or commenting. Proofread your content prior to posting and try to avoid spelling and grammatical errors.
Don't be afraid to ask questions.
If you need help, are uncertain of how to respond to a question or complaint, or need advice on how to handle a difficult situation, contact Julie Lemon, the Communications Coordinator, by calling 608-785-9890 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Think before you post.
Once something is posted online, it lives forever. Search engines frequently catalog posts and archive social media content. Don't make the mistake of posting something that you will regret later or that could negatively impact the college, your current or future career, or your personal reputation.
Because the technology that drives web communication changes rapidly, these guidelines may be adjusted to reflect issues that may arise in the management and implementation of the page or for any other reason that supports the College's priorities for the page.