General social media recommendations
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point embraces the responsible use of social media to communicate with internal and external audiences. Having a significant and sustained presence on these sites allows the university to interact and build relationships with prospective and current students, alumni, employees, the media, parents and general community members.
The guidelines below are good ground rules for those new to social media and serve as a reminder to the social media savvy. If you have any concerns about the content posted on one of our social media outlets or in these guidelines, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome your feedback, and we thank you for your help in creating a safe, vibrant and respectful online community.
Be transparent. Be honest about your identity. If you are authorized by your supervisor to represent UW-Stevens Point in social media, say so. If you choose to post about UW-Stevens Point on your personal time, please identify yourself as a UW-Stevens Point faculty or staff member. Never hide your identity for the purpose of promoting UW-Stevens Point through social media.
Do not use UW-Stevens Point in your Twitter handle if your account will be personal. Do not communicate with the media or other external audiences in an official capacity when you intend for your account to be personal. A good resource about transparency in online communities is the Blog Council’s “Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit” at www.socialmedia.org/disclosure.
Get permission when representing others. Ensure before photo sessions that the university (or partner organization, such as an elementary school) holds permission to photograph and publish any individuals pictured in private meetings or gatherings. Get written permission for children younger than 18. Do not cite university faculty, staff, students, vendors, business partners or other members of the UW-Stevens Point community in quotes without approval from the person or party cited. Do not post anonymous or unattributed quotes. Please contact Associate Vice Chancellor Katie Jore to ensure that prearranged photo shoots or publications that spotlight faculty members are university approved.
Be judicious. Make sure your efforts to be transparent comply with privacy, confidentiality or legal guidelines or laws. It is your responsibility to know the laws, university ethics policies and professional ethics associated with this type of work. If you need training, please inform your supervisor and request recommendations from the University Relations and Communications staff. Never comment on anything related to university legal matters, crises, emergencies, litigation or parties we are in litigation with without approval from University Relations and Communications. Be smart about protecting yourself, your privacy and UW-Stevens Point information. What you publish is widely accessible, so consider the content carefully.
Maintain procedures. Official institutional communications, including blog and social media postings, must come from University Relations and Communications or offices authorized to maintain an approved department-level social media presence.
Be accurate. Make sure that you have all the facts before you post. It's better to verify information with a source first than to have to post a correction or retraction later. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible; after all, that's how you build community. If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly. This will earn you respect in the online community.
Be respectful. You are more likely to achieve your goals or sway others to your beliefs if you are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person. When you’re online, treat others the way you would want them to treat you. Certain topics can lead to inflammatory conversations and negative comments. Don’t fan the flames. Keep your comments kind, thoughtful and on topic.
Allow interaction. Social media demands authenticity. It generally is best not to censor or delete unflattering comments. However, it is recommended that you delete comments or posts that contain profanity, obvious spam and discriminatory messages. Always take a screenshot of any comment or post you delete. If a student makes an obscene, vulgar or offensive comment, notify Student Affairs and include a screenshot of the comment in your communication.
Be safe. If any commenter threatens anyone including students, faculty, staff or the university community, take a screenshot of the comment and notify Protective Services immediately.
Be a leader. There can be a fine line between debate and incendiary reaction. Do not denigrate or criticize UW-Stevens Point, students, faculty, staff, other departments, other universities or the community in general. If you are having problems with a person or department at the university, it’s good to talk with them face to face. We do not need to respond to every criticism. Be careful and considerate. Once the words are out there, you can't get them back. When an inflammatory discussion gets going, it's hard to stop.
Be a valued member. If you join a social network like a Facebook group or comment on someone's blog, make sure you are contributing valuable insights. Don't post information about topics like UW-Stevens Point events or a book you've authored unless you are sure it will be of interest to readers. Self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being banned from websites or groups. Make sure your posts add value to a conversation. If it’s a thoughtful, intelligent and kindly worded post that addresses your audience’s needs, it’s adding value.
Know your audience. Social media networks vary in the types of content they publish, along with the form and tone. What is appropriate for a site such as Facebook might not apply to a site such as LinkedIn. Know your audience in each network and use good judgment to communicate with them effectively. This might mean observing other accounts and sites before setting up your own account. Please make sure your content includes context, links or explanations of how the subject matter relates to your audience. Ask yourself why your audience should care about what you’re posting.
Maintain your page. Make sure that the page/group is maintained by an active administrator. Remember to make arrangements for succession, transferring responsibility and administrative access to the account when necessary, keeping passwords secure. Respond to prompts and questions in a timely manner. If you can’t devote time to this important task, don’t start a social media account.
Think before you post. There's no such thing as a "private" social media site. Search engines can turn up posts years after the publication date. Comments can be forwarded or copied. Archival systems save information even if you delete a post. If you feel angry or passionate about a subject, it's wise to delay posting until you are calm and clearheaded. It is not recommended that UW-Stevens Point employees privatize social media accounts they establish to conduct university business, except for specific group pages for limited audiences such as those offered through Admissions for incoming students.
Maintain confidentiality. Do not post confidential or proprietary information about UW-Stevens Point, its students, its alumni or your fellow employees. Use good ethical judgment and follow university policies and federal requirements, such as FERPA. If you discuss a situation involving individuals on a social media site, be sure they cannot be identified. As a guideline, don't post anything that you would not present at a conference. As a guideline, don’t post anything that you would not present at a conference.
Avoid inside jokes. Inside jokes might seem funny to you, but are likely to be misunderstood, or worse, seen as offensive to others.
Respect university time and property. As stated in the Acceptable Use Policy/Network Security, university computers and your work time are to be used for university-related business. It's appropriate to post at work if your comments are directly related to accomplishing work goals, such as seeking sources for information or working with others to resolve a problem. You should maintain your personal sites on your own time using non-UW-Stevens Point computers.