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Social Media Guidelines and Expectations for University Accounts
Purpose: Indiana State University understands the importance of using social media to engage with various audiences in order to inform them of important events, news, and achievements. When used appropriately, social media can be an effective and efficient means of communication. Improper use, however, can lead to significant issues or complications for the university, for university perception, and for all individuals involved, those included in the post and those posting.
These guidelines and expectations apply to all university departments and offices using the Indiana State University name (variations include ISU, Indiana State, Indiana State U) in social media account administration in platforms including, but not limited to, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn. It is not intended to prohibit creative expression but to support, protect, and clarify. Public pages and direct messages are both subject to these guidelines and expectations. This does not apply to personal pages of employees of the institution.
I. Institutional Social Media Use
In the administration of the account, ISU employees and units must comply with the following:
- Applicable federal requirements, including but not limited to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).
- University regulations, policies, and procedures which dictate appropriate and expected behavior.
- University Communication in the Office of the President will provide members of the media and the public with university news (See Policy 915). University Communication will be the first to announce all university news. Social media administrators can then share the information from University Communication’s social media platforms.
- Indiana State University maintains trademarked and copyrighted word marks and logos. The logos can be used by a department or unit for official social media presence, but you must seek approval from University Marketing prior to use.
- University accounts must not post about or comment on political issues. (See Policy 915).
- Personnel issues should not be discussed on social media.
- Respect copyright and intellectual property rights of other entities, artists, and organizations.
- University-owned computers, tablets, and devices are reserved for university-related business.
- Read, obey, and comply with the Terms of Service and community guidelines on all social media platforms, e.g. Facebook community standards.
- Post only public information. Proprietary or confidential information, personal and/or private information about Indiana State University, staff, and students cannot be posted on social media.
- Posts should not include obscenity, copyright infringement, libel, and threats.
- Report inappropriate posts or accounts with university-related information to University Marketing and University Communication.
- Place this statement or a link to this statement on the social media account profile, bio, about section or other visible area:
The university reserves the right to remove posts and comments from its official social media properties if they: 1) incite violence or otherwise discriminatory or harassing; 2) are obscene or defamatory; 3) repeatedly irrelevant to the university; 4) contradictory to University Policies.
The maintenance of social media account(s) is time-consuming. It will need upkeep and frequent posts in order to grow a following and for it to be an effective means of communication for your department/unit. Before creating any account, think about the time and commitment you need to make in order to be successful.
- Please secure approval from your Vice President or Cabinet Member and submit the Social Media Registration Form before starting an account.
- Create a plan before starting the account. In this plan, you should think about who your audience is and what type of information you will be posting. Your objectives for starting an account, the audience you’re trying to reach, and the type of content you wish to post all factor into your choice of social media platform. Also, your posting schedule and content type(s) will depend on the platform you choose.
- All new account administrators must acknowledge that they have read and will abide by Indiana State University’s Social Media Guidelines and Expectations.
- Use “Indiana State U,” “IndState,” or “Indiana State University” with your unit’s name when naming accounts. For example, @IndStateCriminology or for Facebook: Indiana State University Criminology. Using this naming structure will make platform search easier. Also, put Indiana State in the bio of your social media accounts. It can be as simple as, “Indiana State University Football,” or, “Residential Life at Indiana State University.” If possible, tag Terre Haute, Indiana as your location.
- The account should be created with the department’s generic email address. If you need to obtain one, please submit a ticket through the Office of Information Technology.
- All social media accounts affiliated with Indiana State University must be registered. Name and contact info of administrators and back up administrators must be provided.
- Please contact University Marketing prior to using the Indiana State University logo, seal, or other official marks in profile images.
- All social media administrators must attend a social media administrators meeting/workshop. These meetings/workshops are organized by University Communication.
- An account needs at least two administrators. One of the administrators should be a university staff or faculty member. If an administrator leaves, someone should take their place and a new password should be created for the account, and this new password shared with people involved. Only people managing the account should have access to the information.
- If one of the account managers is a student, it is highly recommended that the posts be approved by a university staff member prior to posting the content. The university department/organization is responsible for all of their accounts’ posts.
- Social media administrators are responsible for monitoring and regularly updating the social media account you manage.
- Social posts should align with overall university messaging and campus aesthetic. Use up-to-date hashtags and images.
Any public post with comments enabled is susceptible to positive or negative comments. Your response or lack of response is also just as public. While not all comments require a response, your attention and response to legitimate and relevant comments are important to people who engage with your site. Plus, comments add to the level of engagement on your account. Maintain positivity in your responses and avoid negative engagement. Try to resolve the issue quickly, in a few responses, and in a private manner, if possible. Do not delete comments as a way of resolving the issue. However, comments that 1) incite violence or otherwise discriminatory or harassing; 2) are obscene or defamatory; 3) repeatedly irrelevant to the university; 4) contradictory to University Policies, may be hidden or deleted and that account may be blocked. If you believe a comment is in violation and should be deleted, contact University Marketing and University Communication before any action is taken. Deleted posts must be documented and a copy maintained.
Inactive accounts reflect poorly on the university. It can also be confusing if a department or organization has both active and inactive accounts. When people are searching for you on social media, they may only find the inactive account(s).
If an account is dormant after six months, the university can delete the account. If you no longer intend to update your account/site, please unpublish or delete it, and notify University Marketing and University Communication.
Advertising on Social Media
If you are interested in boosting posts or using your social channels for advertising purposes, please contact University Marketing or University Communication to be sure you are using institutional dollars in the most efficient way to reach your goals.
Photography, Videography, and Music
Secure proper permissions before using photos, videos, and music with your posts.
When taking photos and videos at events, identify who you are and inform your subjects that you are taking the images for social media. Respect requests from anyone who does not want to be a part of the video or photo.
Signed model releases are encouraged and recommended for any image or video in which a person can be recognized and identified. For images captured in public places or at public events where there is a reasonable expectation of being photographed or filmed, model releases are generally not required. However, best practice is to advise those who may be included on the image or video to see if they have any objections, and to adhere to the subject’s wishes.
Examples of instances when model releases are required include:
- When the image or video will be used to market or endorse a program, product or institution
- Events/activities that include minors. For visiting classes, signed releases can often be acquired before the visit.
- Images or videos of potentially sensitive topics such as therapy sessions, counseling services or financial aid.
Remember to preserve the integrity of the photo assets. Avoid altering images to change the meaning or message of an image.
Accessibility and Livestreaming
For accessibility reasons, posted photos should include either a caption or alt-text. If the post is a video, closed captioning must be available. See accessibility guides under Section IV below.
Livestreamed events should be well-planned and rehearsed in advance. Administrators should identify potential issues that might occur during livestream. Keep in mind technical and accessibility issues, and that “anything can happen” because it’s streaming live.
II. General advice for social media use — Institutional accounts
- Ask yourself: If this posting were on the front page of the New York Times, how would you feel?
- Use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation in your posts. Check for mistakes and typos before and after publication.
- Promote your department’s social media account by talking about it at events you host, or linking it to your website. Put your account usernames and/or handles on your email signatures, print materials, etc.
- Have your Indiana State social media accounts follow other Indiana State affiliated accounts. You can retweet another account’s tweet or share their Facebook post. This will give the post a bigger audience. If your account makes an effort to help other university accounts, they will do the same for you.
- When posting on behalf of the university, or even posting about the university on your personal account(s), think about current university social media campaigns and what could apply to your post. Tailor your posts to relevant hashtags (example: #IndState, #SycamoreStrong) or taglines so your account is in sync with other campus outlets and your posts will have more reach.
- Be respectful of fans, followers, and those you engage with online. Use discretion regarding the use of public forums versus direct messages.
- Be aware that as a member of the community, people may judge your work and the university by what you say.
- The internet is not private. What is posted online never goes away completely and may receive negative and positive reactions. Be careful what you post!
- It is hard to read tone on the internet so be careful how you convey yourself and the institution. Sarcasm can be difficult to detect. It is best to keep the content professional and free of any sarcastic tones or words that could be conveyed as rude or offensive.
Failure to comply with these guidelines and expectations will result in:
- Social media posts or accounts being deleted
- Revocation of rights to use university-related social media
- Disciplinary actions and sanctions according to university policies.
IV. Resources and Contacts
University Communication: email@example.com
University Marketing: firstname.lastname@example.org
University photo collection: https://indstate.photoshelter.com/index
Social Media Registration Form: https://www.indstate.edu/webform/social-media-starter-worksheet
Indiana State University Brand Guidelines: https://www.indstate.edu/university-marketing/brand-toolbox
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