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400.10 - Social Media

University Group Policy #400.10

I.    Executive Summary

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) supports the official use of social media to communicate with audiences important to the institution including students, potential students, parents, employees, alumni, visitors, fans and others. This regulation and its supporting guidelines establish the procedures for creating and managing a university presence or participating in social media in an official capacity on behalf of WSSU.

II.  Policy Statement

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, media sharing sites, and blogs/microblogs to accomplish their strategic goals. These technologies offer effective ways to engage with constituents worldwide and provide a powerful vehicle to leverage those relationships.

WSSU supports social media efforts and coordinates them through the Office of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). 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. The goal is to help you use social media tools effectively, protect your personal and professional reputation, and enhance the image and communications efforts of the university.

III.     Definitions

Social Media: communications platforms that are highly accessible and scalable using Web-based and mobile technologies to facilitate interactive dialogue. Social media platforms include but are not limited to social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter or Google+, blogs, podcasts, discussion forums, RSS feeds, video-sharing services such as YouTube, photo-sharing services such as Flickr, interactive geolocation services, and online collaborative information and publishing systems that are accessible to internal and external audiences (i.e., Wikis).

IV.    Guidelines

A. General

Naming: Winston-Salem State University or its abbreviated acronym (WSSU) should appear in the name of all official accounts.

Graphics: Graphic elements (i.e. profile pictures, banner graphics, icons, avatars) must be properly branded, as outlined in the WSSU Brand Style Guide.

Community Guidelines:  Expectations for community behavior shall be conveyed by linking to the Community Code of Conduct. 

Public Records: Both the posts of the employee administrator(s) and any feedback by other employees or non-employees, including citizens, are part of the public record. Associated social media accounts and sites content and postings are subject to the North Carolina Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties when required by statute (NCGS.Ch. 132). Profiles shall link to the WSSU Public Records statement.

Conducting Business: The University does not endorse or use any social network, Internet communication service, or media sharing service as a secure means of communication for online business transactions or matters involving personal information. The university will not ask for, nor should an individual send, credit card or payment information, classified information, privileged information, private information, or information subject to non-disclosure agreements via any social network.

B.  Creating or Registering a Social Media Account

All departments and units must register their social media accounts with IMC. All social media accounts must be reviewed and approved for registration by the Chief Communications Officer or her designee before they are publicized or used.

All social media accounts must have at least two non-student university employees serving as account administrators at all times as well as the Chief Communications Officer or her designee. All departments and/or units must update their social media account registrations if any change occurs in the designated account administrators, including in the event and account administrator(s) leave university employment or is/are reassigned to another university department.

Should an account administrator leave the University for any Reason or no longer serve as an account administrator, it is the department and/or unit’s responsibility to designate another individual to be the account administrator and remove the former employee’s administrative permissions to the social media account.

Upon completion of the registration process, all social media accounts may be publicly listed by the university in a directory on the WSSU website.

C. Social Media Site Management

Moderation: Administrators are responsible for monitoring content posted by others on their social media sites. WSSU reserves the right to remove comments that violate the Community Guidelines.

Trademark and Copyright: All content shared to a social media site must be owned by the university or the administrator(s) sharing the content, or protected by fair use. Other content may only be posted with the express permission of the copyright/trademark holder.

Confidentiality:  Confidential information about the university, its faculty, staff, or students may not be shared on social media platforms. Refer to the university’s confidentiality policy for guidance on what information is prohibited.

Political commentary: Pursuant to the Political Activities of Employees Policy, political comments or commentary may not be published on official university accounts.

Endorsements: Social media accounts cannot be used to identify, promote, endorse or commercially advertise the goods or services of non-university organizations or individuals without the approval of the dean, vice chancellor or director (or his/her designee) having supervisory authority over the department and unit.

D. Personal Social Media Usage

WSSU affiliation: Employees who choose to identify their affiliation with WSSU in comments or on their profiles must clearly state that all opinions are their own. Only the Chancellor and/or his designees may speak on behalf of the university.

University resources: University resources are to be used for university-related educational and business purposes. Employees should maintain their personal sites on their own time using non-WSSU technology. Employees shall not use their state email account or password as the primary login method with a personal social networking site. Use of a state email address subjects the account to the North Carolina Public Records Law.

NCAA regulations: WSSU employees must abide by NCAA regulations when interacting with and communicating on social media platforms. Employees must refrain from contacting prospective student-athletes on social media platforms.

V.    Roles and Responsibilities

WSSU uses a coordinated strategy to manage its social media presence. The office of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) 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 IMC.

VI.     Applicability

This regulation applies to social media accounts created by and representing WSSU departments and/or units by employees, students or contractors. This regulation does not apply to employees’ private social media accounts. University employees acting in an individual capacity should exercise caution to communicate clearly that they are not acting in a representative capacity of, or expressing the views of, the university. This regulation does not apply to student organizations at WSSU.

VII.    Compliance

Account administrators are responsible for managing and monitoring the content of their social media account(s), identifying problems that emerge, and taking any appropriate action when necessary.

Social media accounts cannot be used for purposes of political activities or making any political statements.

Social media accounts cannot be used to identify, promote, endorse or commercially advertise the goods or services of non-university organizations or individuals without the approval of the dean, vice chancellor or director (or his/her designee) having supervisory authority over the department and unit.

Social medial accounts must adhere to the university’s brand guidelines.

Any use of social media accounts shall comply with all state and federal laws, and university policies and regulations including, but not limited to, those related to protections of confidential and proprietary information and conflict of interest and commitment. Any content and online activity created by an individual or site moderator that violates these ordinances or contains/leads to the release of a student’s private personal information is strictly prohibited.

Access to social media sites may be withdrawn in case of misuse.

Responsible Division: Integrated Marketing Communications

Authority: Board of Trustees


  • Adopted December 8, 2017

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