Social Media Best Practices

Social media is a dynamic environment, therefore it is essential that University-sponsored social media is consistently maintained, properly branded, and have responsible, respectful administrators to monitor posts and comments. This helps to create a positive public perception of both the social identity and the University.

Maintaining a Social Media Presence

Once a clearly defined strategy for a University-sponsored social media presence has been created, it is necessary to understand how to maintain its content.

Be active

Diligence and consistency are vital to the success of a social media site. A large part of what makes social media different from other, traditional forms of communication derives from how quickly new material is posted. Social media audiences expect frequent updates. Consistent interaction with an audience can help to determine how often posts are expected. The content shared does not necessarily need to be unique with each update, but posts should be.

Be timely

Content needs to be current and posted in a timely manner; this includes monitoring and updating. Response to feedback in a timely manner will help build a positive relationship between the site and its audience.

Be accurate

Though it is ideal to be the first to post on a particular topic, make sure all of the details and facts are accurate, and proofread before posting. It is easier to ensure posts are accurate from the start rather than having to delete or correct posts later. Give credit where credit is due by linking to stories or appropriate sources. This will not only help generate traffic, but it will help to build the social community.

Think before posting

Remember that anything that goes online lives there forever, so be thoughtful and confident in the posts that are shared. Ensure that content is relevant and credible, whether it be original material or content shared from another site. Know who in the organization to contact if there are issues or crises that arise.

Branding

Follow the branding guidelines established by the Office of Marketing and Media. The guidelines not only apply to Purdue’s identity mark, but also to Purdue branded visuals and voice.

Our identity mark is the most recognizable part of the Purdue academic brand. Therefore, consistency is important. The logo should be displayed properly when used on University-sponsored social media presences. Departments and other subunits should identify their college, school or department in the name (their social identity) or in the description section of each account.

Responsibility

Know the University Social Media Policy

Administrators, and those assisting with posting to, or monitoring of, University-sponsored social media need to read and understand the University Social Media Policy found at http://www.purdue.edu/policies/information-technology/viic2.html. This includes registering each social media presence administered and all responsibilities and procedures stated in the policy. 

Administrators

Identify the person(s) who will have primary responsibility for maintaining and monitoring the site. Discuss how much monitoring will be needed for each social media presence. Sharing the responsibility across a group is beneficial. Create a shared email address, username and password so the account is not tied to a specific individual.

Be transparent

Social media sites maintained on behalf of the University need to be clearly stated as such. Transparency builds credibility and trust. Let the audience know the role as a University-sponsored social media presence and the goal of the site.

Separate personal from professional

Keep personal and professional accounts as separate as possible and label them respectively. What is appropriate for one account may not be for the other and judgment should be used when determining where posts belong. Personal views and beliefs, for example, do not belong on a University-sponsored account. A personal social media presence of an employee of Purdue University should state that the views are those of the employee and do not reflect those of Purdue.

Disclaimer

In addition to monitoring posts and comments, utilizing a disclaimer within each University-sponsored social media identity’s description conveys that posts and comments from outside individuals do not reflect the official views of the University.

All University-sponsored social media sites should contain either the short version, when necessary, or the full version of the following disclaimer.

Short version: Opinions expressed on this site may not represent the official views of [insert campus name].

Full version: Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the official views of [insert campus name]. This site may contain links to websites and services outside the [insert campus name] domain. [Insert campus name] does not endorse, takes no responsibility for and exercises no control over the views or content contained on these independent sites, nor does it vouch for the accuracy or accessibility of the information contained on them. [Insert campus name] cannot authorize the use of copyrighted materials contained in linked websites. Users must request such authorization from the sponsor of the independent site.

Being Respectful

Apply respectful behavior in all aspects of site maintenance: respect the audience by being timely, active and transparent; interact with the audience by responding to comments they leave on the site and by offering comments on interesting posts or sharing others’ relevant stories; do not engage in arguments or tolerate inappropriate comments.

Administrators should monitor comments posted to each social media presence and respond appropriately, including removing any content that is deemed threatening, obscene, a violation of intellectual property rights, a violation of privacy or copyright laws, or otherwise injurious or illegal.

Monitoring and Troubleshooting

Most social networks have intuitive interfaces that allow easy creation of posts to share updates or videos and images. Once a post is created, the ability to edit, share or remove comments is just as easy.

For the most part, comments and interactions with users are balanced conversations. Often both sides of views on issues are discussed in reasonable and polite discourse. Some issues are more controversial and the conversations surrounding those issues will often be polarizing to the audience. Monitoring comments with sensitivity to these issues and having the ability to remove inappropriate comments or posts is essential to maintain a positive perception of the University.

Knowledge of whom at the University to contact when issues or crises arise is equally important to maintaining a social media presence. Offensive or threatening posts should be noted, before deleting, by copying in email or screen capture, and then shared with the campus authority as well as members of your crisis communications team to determine the actions necessary for the University. Do not engage in arguments, but reaffirm that social media is a place for each user’s views to be recognized. Comments or posts that utilize copyrighted material, such as videos or music, should be removed and noted. Comments or posts directly threatening others, or actions against the University, should be reported to the appropriate staff as well as to local police.

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