Best Practices for Social Media at the University of St. Thomas
The University of St. Thomas recognizes that social media and other forms of electronic communication can be effective tools for doing your job and supporting the university’s interests. These best practices have been developed to help you use the tools successfully and manage the risks. When you communicate about the university or matters that affect the university and our students, faculty, staff and alumni, you’re expected to follow the university's code of conduct and all university policies, including electronic communication policy.
If you want to launch something new on behalf of the university, a university department, or a university organization, discuss it with your supervisor or advisor and the New Media Initiatives Group (via firstname.lastname@example.org) first. Even if you’re an experienced web or social-media user in your personal life, you’ll need to keep in mind the strategic, logistical and legal factors that are different in a university setting.
If you want to contribute to existing digital communities, here are a few ways you can support the university.
Learn: Be aware of policies that apply to electronic communications. Sign up for a social media class through the Leadership Academy. Register for the NMIG monthly newsletter (email@example.com) . Visit the university’s social media site (www.stthoma.edu/socialmedia). There are also helpful blogs and resources for social media best practices listed at the end of this document. Social media will continue to change, so do your part to stay informed.
Join: Sign up for an internal or external network as a UST employee. For example, you can join LinkedIn or Twitter and identify yourself as an employee of the University of St. Thomas.
Participate: Participate in a university-sponsored venue, such as posting on an existing university Facebook page. Collaborate with colleagues, students, prospective students, alumni and peers in non-university-sponsored venues such as industry blogs or forums.
Show your pride: Internally and externally you can express pride in the university; in what you do; in the university values. For example, you can post something on your Facebook page or “like” someone else’s post about the university.
Be an ambassador: You can actively share good news about the university and its work in the community. For example, you can “retweet” or “dig” news about a university achievement, innovation or contribution to the community. You can pass along job opportunities. You can invite people to join our groups, comment on our blogs, etc. The university may occasionally invite you to engage in comments, or ask you to help counteract inaccurate information or misinformed opinions published online; that is your choice, and you will be given accurate information first.
Help: If you have expertise to offer, you can answer questions in external groups or comment on blogs and sites where that expertise is welcome. If you encounter someone expressing a need, you can share a link to information about university resources that may fill that need. Remember to note your connection to the university.
After you you've considered these guidelines, you'll want to plan on the following to set up and maintain your social media presence:
- Your department will be responsible for its own social media tools and activity.
- Research what other groups may already be established for the social media audience you are reaching out to. While you are not responsible for social media content offered by other groups, be mindful of how your message, naming conventions, etc. may overlap with content administered outside the university.
- Your department should use consistent naming conventions across all social media tools (for example, always use /stthomasmagazine or /ocb). Keep in mind that your audience is more likely to find you if you use "UST" or "University of St. Thomas" in your name.
- Check the policy for each social media site to comply with rules about administrative rights. For example, Facebook doesn't allow for fake identities.
- Register your new site on the UST Social Media Registry. This not only helps your audience find the site and recognize it as an official UST presence – it also entitles you to link to the new site from a UST web page. When you register your site, remember to identify the individual who will maintain administrative rights.
- Social media should be a vital part of your traditional marketing plan – not replace it. These plans need to interact. If they exist in a vacuum, your department doesn’t derive the full benefit of being in the social media space.
- Don't saturate your social media space with promotional or sales material. Be honest about who you are and why you are posting. You're using social media to have a conversation with your audience. A persistent sales pitch promotes a one-way dialog, and will cause your audience to tune out.
- Each department or program should appoint a single person responsible for social media. These duties should be included in the employee’s PDQ.
- Use a general St. Thomas e-mail address so access to the site will continue regardless of employee status. (i.e., firstname.lastname@example.org for School of Education). More than one person should have access to the mailbox.
- Your department should limit the number of authors/administrators for social media tools.
- Authors/administrators should be prepared to contribute consistent, high-quality content. The content may consist of photos, text, audio, video, polls, etc.
- Be sure you have rights to the content you publish. Copying a photo off the Internet and publishing it to your department Facebook page is not the same as having rights to that photo.
- Frequency of posts will vary by social media tool.
- Don't abandon good writing skills just because you're online.
- Reward your audience for participating. You value being part of a conversation with your audience. Find a way to show them that you appreciate their engagement.
- If you allow comments, be committed to moderating the comments on a regular basis (pull inappropriate comments/posts)
- Set goals for your social media efforts. If possible, the goals should be measurable.
- Remember, you are representing the university brand. Civility and respect are critical in all interactions.
Welcome to the University of St. Thomas’ official Facebook page. Keeping with the nature of Facebook being an open interactive environment, we invite you to share, comment, and interact with our Facebook page. We would like to remind you that we will not tolerate any solicitation or profane, vulgar, obscene, libelous or defamatory comments and remarks. We reserve the right to remove any content that we feel is not appropriate.
We would also like to remind you that any content that you find on the University of St. Thomas Facebook page is the property of UST and is subject to all applicable copyright and trademark laws.
Thank you and we hope you enjoy sharing in our experiences through the University of St. Thomas Facebook page.
Finally, just as social media and its parameters for privacy or design change frequently, these guidelines will evolve. Keep in touch.