Social media are powerful communications tools that have a significant impact on organizational and professional reputations. Because they blur the lines between personal voice and institutional voice, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College has crafted the following policy to help clarify how best to enhance and protect personal and professional reputations when participating with College-related social media.
Both in professional and institutional roles, employees need to follow the same behavioral standards online as they would in real life. SMWC uses social media to supplement traditional press and marketing efforts. The same laws, professional expectations, and guidelines for interacting with students, parents, alumni, donors, media, and other College constituents apply online as in the real world. Employees are liable for anything they post to social media sites which when abused, can result in the risk of disciplinary action or termination.
In 2016, SMWC adopted the following social media philosophy: In recent years, social media has become an incredible and primary tool for higher education to recruit students. The SMWC social media recruitment strategy builds digital communities, showcases campus culture, promotes upcoming events, encourages academic and athletic achievements and keeps prospective students and parents informed with campus news and announcements. SMWC reserves the right to remove any comments that it deems, in its sole discretion, to be abusive, harassing, obscene, defamatory and/or not in accordance with its strategic goals and mission. Users that are harassing to our community and impede recruitment efforts will be banned.
SMWC Guidelines When Posting on Behalf of the College
If you post on behalf of SMWC College as a department, student organization, or other officially recognized group of the College the following policies must be adhered to.
Social media are defined as media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Examples include but are not limited to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and blogs. SMWC defines users as students, faculty, staff and volunteers.
Posts and other content specifically added by administrators of the SMWC social media account are official SMWC content and property. Opinions expressed by other users do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the College. User-provided content is not screened or evaluated during the submission process.
Users are expected to abide by all applicable state and federal laws, regulations, rules and policies including the Student Code of Conduct and the SMWC Harassment Policy; users are expected to abide policies and procedures outlined in the student handbook, faculty handbook and staff handbook; and users are expected to uphold a high regard for the College’s values and commitment to diversity. The College reserves the right to remove any and all content. Users are encouraged to report content that violates the platform’s Code of Conduct by using the official reporting procedure.
Your SMWC social media account
Before engaging in work-related social media, employees must obtain permission from College Relations. This policy applies to all uses of social media accounts. Assistance in setting up social media accounts and their settings can be obtained from College Relations.
Protect confidential and proprietary information
Do not post confidential or proprietary information about SMWC, students, employees, or alumni. Employees must still follow the applicable federal requirements such as FERPA and HIPAA, as well as USCAA regulations. Adhere to all applicable College privacy and confidentiality policies. Employees who share confidential information do so at the risk of disciplinary action or termination.
Respect copyright and fair use
When posting, be mindful of the copyright and intellectual property rights of others and of the College. When using content that you did not create, including photos, graphics and text, be aware of the copyright and intellectual property rights of others and of the College, and take care not to violate those rights. Photographs posted on social media sites easily can be appropriated by visitors. To protect your intellectual property, you may consider adding a watermark and/or posting images at 72 dpi and approximately 800×600 resolution. Images at that size are sufficient for viewing on the Web, but not suitable for printing.
Releasing Official Information
The Office of College Relations is responsible for publishing online official information on behalf of the College. All media inquiries must be referred to College Relations 812-535-5212.
Departments that have a social media account or would like to start one should contact College Relations. All institutional accounts must have a full-time appointed employee who is identified as being responsible for content. A member of College Relations shall be included as an administrator on any social networking site that is moderated and maintained as an official presence of the College. This guarantees that these presences are managed as staff members leave, and allows College Relations to monitor the sites regularly, track usage and evaluate content that violates the social media policy.
Terms of service
Acknowledge who you are
When you represent SMWC on a social media platform, acknowledge this. For name of Facebook pages or account names on other social media platforms, we recommend using “SMWC” as the first word for consistency and best results in searches, for example:
- SMWC XXXX Department
- SMWC Class of XXXX
- SMWC Student Senate
- SMWC Softball
Multiple site administrators are recommended, or at least two so that there is a back-up. For student organizations, overlap outgoing and incoming administrators to make sure the transition is smooth.
Have a plan
Consider having a specific message, audience, and goals, as well as a strategy for keeping information on social media sites current. The College Relations office can assist and advise you with your social media planning.
Link back to the College
Whenever possible, link back to the SMWC web site: https://www.smwc.edu/. Posts should be very brief; and should redirect a visitor to content that resides within the SMWC web environment.
Protect the institutional voice
Posts on social media sites should protect the College’s institutional voice by remaining professional in tone and in good taste. No individual SMWC unit should construe its social media site as representing the College as a whole. Consider this when naming pages or accounts, selecting a profile picture or icon, and selecting content to post—names, profile images, and posts should all be clearly linked to the particular department or unit rather than to the institution as a whole.
College Relations retains the rights to modify or delete social media content, or to shut the account down in the case of behavior counter to the College’s mission and values or in the case of prolonged inactivity. In such a case, the person responsible and that person’s supervisor will be informed.
SMWC Guidelines When Posting as an Individual
SMWC uses social media to supplement traditional media and marketing efforts. Employees are encouraged to share College news and events that are a matter of public record with their family and friends. Linking straight to the information source is an effective way to help promote the mission of SMWC and build community.
When you are using social media for personal purposes and might be perceived as an agent or expert of SMWC, you need to make sure it is clear to the audience that you are not representing the position of the College or SMWC policy. While the guidelines below apply to those instances where there is the potential for confusion about your role as an SMWC agent or expert versus personal opinion, they are good to keep in mind for all social media interactions. When posting to a social media site, you should:
Be aware of liability
You are responsible for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be copyright infringement, defamatory, proprietary, libelous, or obscene (as defined by the courts). Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you. Privacy does not exist in the world of social media. Search engines can turn up posts years after they are created, and comments can be forwarded or copied.
Do not use the College name and logo or make endorsements
The SMWC logo or College seal on personal social media sites is prohibited. Using the SMWC name to promote a product, cause, or political party or candidate is also prohibited. Student clubs and organizations may not use logos, graphics, or content, or in any way imply they are acting on an official basis for the College through social media.
Respect the College time and property
SMWC computers and time on the job are reserved for College related business as approved by supervisors and in accordance with the faculty and staff handbook and are not to be used for personal posts on social media.
Strive for accuracy
Ensure accuracy before posting facts on social media. Review content for grammatical and spelling errors.
Do no harm
Let your social networking do no harm to SMWC or to yourself, whether you are navigating those networks on the job or off.
Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in SMWC’s community. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered sensitive, such as politics and religion. You are more likely to achieve your goals if you are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person. Understand that content contributed to a social media site could encourage comments or discussion of opposing ideas. Responses should be considered carefully in light of how they would reflect on the College and its institutional voice.
Remember your audience
Be aware that a presence in the social media world is or easily can be made available to the public at large. This includes prospective students, current students, current employers and colleagues, and peers. Consider this before publishing to ensure the post will not alienate, harm, or provoke any of these groups.
Use a Disclaimer
On personal social media sites, be clear to identify your views as your own. In identifying yourself as a SMWC faculty or staff member online, it should be clear that the views expressed are not necessarily those of the institution. A common practice among individuals who write about the industry in which they work is to include a disclaimer on their site, usually on their “About Me” page. If you discuss higher education on your own social media site, we suggest you include a sentence similar to this: “The views expressed on this [blog, website] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of SMWC.” This is particularly important if you could be perceived to be in a leadership role at SMWC.
Take the High Ground
If you identify your affiliation with SMWC in your comments, readers may associate you with the College, even with the disclaimer that your views are your own. Remember that you’re most likely to build a high-quality following if you discuss ideas and situations civilly. Don’t pick fights online.