WSSU Social Media Guidelines
These guidelines continue to evolve as social media evolves and should be considered a work in progress. If you have comments, questions or other feedback, please contact the Digital Communications Strategy Manager.
Social media tools can bring tremendous value to the work of the university. Individuals, departments, units, and programs use such tools as social networking sites (Facebook/LinkedIn/Snapchat/Instagram), media sharing sites (YouTube/Flickr/iTunes/Pinterest), and blogs/microblogs (WordPress/Twitter/Tumbler) to accomplish their strategic goals. The list continues to grow as new tools become available. These technologies offer effective ways to engage with constituents worldwide and provide a powerful vehicle to leverage those relationships.
Winston-Salem State University supports social media efforts and coordinates them through the Office of Integrated Marketing Communications. Individuals who manage social media channels on behalf of the university and employees who participate in social media channels must adhere to state and institutional policies and follow the standards and best practices presented here. Please become familiar with these guidelines. The goal is to help you use social media tools effectively, protect your personal and professional reputation, and enhance the image and efforts of the university.
Winston-Salem State University uses a coordinated strategy to manage its social media presence. The Office of Integrated Marketing Communications manages the university’s primary social media channels and provides guidance and support to units that identify a need for more segmented channels. Units are responsible for developing and maintaining their own sites, working closely with the Digital Communications Strategy Manager in the Office of Integrated Marketing Communications.
As soon as your department/unit determines it may have a need for its own social media channel, contact the Digital Communications Strategy Manager. IMC can help you to determine which types of social media tools make the most sense and to develop a strategy for using those tools to accomplish your objectives.
All departments/units must register their social media accounts through the university's online social media registration form. IMC will review and approve submitted accounts.
All social media accounts must have at least two university employees serving as account administrators at all times. Departments/units must notify IMC if any change occurs in the designated account administrators, including in the event the account administrator(s) leave university employment or is/are reassigned to another university department.
Naming: Your site’s name should be concise so as to take up as few characters as possible while conveying clearly the identity of the channel. In many cases, for example, it would be better to preface the site name with WSSU rather than Winston-Salem State University.
Graphics: Graphic elements (i.e. profile pictures, banner graphics, icons, avatars) must be properly branded, as outlined in the WSSU Brand Style Guide, and should be consistent with the rest of your marketing collateral. Contact the Office of Integrated Marketing Communications for help in developing these graphics for your social media site.
Community Guidelines: Most social media sites allow visitors to post comments and otherwise interact within the virtual community. Convey expectations for community behavior on your site by linking to the Community Code of Conduct from your site. (WSSU Community Guidelines)
Know the rules. Follow the community guidelines of the site you are using. Become familiar with the terms of service and policies of sites and networks in which you participate.
Public Record. Like e-mail, communication via university-related social media channels is a public record. This means that both the posts of the employee administrator and any feedback by other employees or non-employees, including citizens, will become part of the public record. Make others aware of this fact by linking to the Public Records statement from your site. (WSSU Public Records Statement)
When your approved social media site is ready for launch, IMC will link to it from university listings and will help promote it to the appropriate audiences. Your site administrator(s) will become a member of the WSSU Social Media Administrators group, which provides a number of resources to individuals who are managing official social media sites.
Allow the following points to guide the tone and substance of your official posts:
Be respectful. Respect the dignity of others and be committed to the civil and thoughtful discussion of opposing ideas. Some online communities can be volatile, tempting users to behave in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. Your reputation and WSSU’s are best served when you remain above the fray. Refrain from profane, obscene, harassing or defamatory speech.
Monitor comments. Administrators are responsible not only for managing their own posts, but also for monitoring content posted by others in their social media sites. Comments by others are generally welcomed – including those of a negative nature. (Tips for Handling Negative Posts) While removal of comments, posts, and threads are generally discouraged, WSSU does reserve the right to remove comments that violate the Community Guidelines. (WSSU Community Guidelines) Respond to comments and questions in a timely manner and as appropriate.
Respect trademarks and copyright. By posting content to any social media site, you agree you own or otherwise control all of the rights to that content, your use of the content is protected fair use and you are not knowingly providing misleading or false information. Media such as photographs and videos are copyrighted, including those commissioned by the university. You should only post media content you have created yourself or have permission from the creator to use.
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 sure to always spell-check and grammar-check BEFORE you make a post. The social media community can be unforgiving of typos.
Uphold confidentiality. Use good judgment about content and respect privacy laws. Do not include confidential information about the university, its faculty, staff, or students. If you have any questions about whether it is appropriate to write about certain kinds of material in your role as a WSSU employee, ask your supervisor before you post. Remember that policies such as FERPA apply to social media.
Keep your personal views separate. Uphold the university’s mission and values in your activities. Don’t include political comments or comments on social issues – except in support of positions WSSU has already taken. This includes changes to your photo or avatar in relation to political or social issues.
Don’t endorse without permission. Don’t use a university account or logo to endorse any viewpoint, activity, product, vendor, politician or site unless you have permission from your supervisor to do so. Assure that the WSSU name and/or logo are used in a manner that does not imply university endorsement or responsibility for any of the above.
Be transparent. Social media often span traditional boundaries between professional and personal relationships. If you identify your affiliation with WSSU in your comments or your personal profile, readers will associate you with the university, even with the disclaimer that your views are your own. Be honest about your identity. If you are authorized to represent Winston-Salem State University in social media, say so. If you choose to post about the university on your personal time, please identify yourself as a WSSU faculty or staff member. However, please be clear that you are sharing your views as a member of the higher education community, not as a formal representative of WSSU. Never hide your identity for the purpose of promoting WSSU through social media.
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 clear-headed. BEFORE you post any content, ask yourself how this post could affect the reputation of yourself or the university today or in the future.
Respect university time and property. University computers and your work time are to be used for university-related educational and business purposes. 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. Maintain your personal sites on your own time using non-WSSU computers. Employees should never use their state email account or password in conjunction with a personal social networking site.