Social Media Guidelines
The following social media guidelines were originally developed by the University of Michigan and have been edited and revised for the Clarkson College community. We thank our colleagues at the University of Michigan for sharing them with us and giving us permission to adopt and modify them for Clarkson College.
The rapid growth of social media technologies combined with their ease of use and pervasiveness make them attractive channels of communication. However, these tools also hold the possibility of a host of unintended consequences. To help you identify and avoid potential issues, we have compiled these guidelines. They are examples of best practices from various institutions and are intended to help you understand, from a wide range of perspectives, the implications of participating in social media.
Things to Consider When Beginning to Use Social Media
Applications that allow you to interact with others online (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) require you to carefully consider the implications of friending, linking, following, or accepting such a request from another person. For example, there is the potential for misinterpretation of the relationship or the potential of sharing protected information. Relationships such as faculty-student, supervisor-subordinate and staff-student merit close consideration of the implications and the nature of the social interaction. The following are some guidelines to follow in these cases.
Social Media Guidelines when Posting as an Individual
Clarkson College uses social media to supplement traditional press and marketing efforts. Employees and students are encouraged to share College news and events that are a matter of public record with their family and friends. Linking straight to the information source is an effective way to help promote the Mission of Clarkson College and build a community.
When you are using social media for personal purposes and might be perceived as an agent/expert of Clarkson College, you need to make sure it is clear to the audience that you are not representing the position of the College or Clarkson College policy. While the guidelines below apply to those instances where there is the potential for confusion about your role as a Clarkson College agent/expert versus personal opinion, they are good to keep in mind for all social media interactions. When posting to a social media site, you should:
Do No Harm
Do not let your Internet social networking do harm to Clarkson College or to yourself, whether you’re navigating those networks on the job or off.
Does It Pass the Publicity Test?
If the content of your message would not be acceptable for face-to-face conversation, over the telephone, or in another medium, it will not be acceptable for a social networking site. Ask yourself, would I want to see this published in the newspaper or posted on a billboard tomorrow or 10 years from now?
Be Aware of Liability
You are personally responsible for the content you publish on blogs, wikis, or any other form of user-generated content. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be copyright infringement, defamatory, proprietary, libelous or obscene (as defined by the courts).
The line between professional and personal business is sometimes blurred; be thoughtful about your posting’s content and potential audiences and be honest about your identity. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as a Clarkson College faculty, staff, student or community member. However, please be clear that you are sharing your views as an individual, not as a representative of Clarkson College. If you identify yourself as a member of the Clarkson College community, ensure your profile and related content are consistent with how you wish to present yourself to colleagues.
Be a Valued Member
If you join a social network, make sure you are contributing valuable insights. Don’t hijack the discussion and redirect by posting self-/organizational-promoting information. Self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being banned from websites or groups.
Think Before You Post
There’s no such thing as a “private” social media site. Search engines can turn up posts and pictures 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. Only post pictures that you would be comfortable sharing with the general public (current and future peers, employers, etc.). Increasingly, employers are conducting web searches on job candidates before extending offers. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time—be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you.
Take the High Ground
If you identify your affiliation with Clarkson College in your comments, readers may associate you with the College, even with the disclaimer that your views are your own. Remember that you’re most likely to build a high-quality following if you discuss ideas and situations civilly. Don’t pick fights online.
Respect Your Audience
Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in the Clarkson College community. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered sensitive, such as politics and religion. You are more likely to achieve your goals if you are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person.
If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and quick with your correction. If you’re posting to a blog, you may choose to modify an earlier post—just make it clear that you have done so.
Most people who maintain social media sites welcome comments—it builds credibility and community. However, you may be able to set your site so that you can review and approve comments before they appear. This allows you to respond in a timely way to comments. It also allows you to delete spam comments and block any individuals who repeatedly post offensive or frivolous comments.
Protect Your Identity
While you should be honest about yourself, don’t provide personal information that scam artists or identity thieves could use. Don’t list your home address or telephone number. It is a good idea to create a separate email address that is used only with social media sites.
Don’t Use Pseudonyms
Never pretend to be someone else. Tracking tools enable supposedly anonymous posts to be traced back to their authors.
Use a Disclaimer
If you publish content to any website outside of Clarkson College and it has something to do with the work you do or subjects associated with Clarkson College, use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and do not represent the Clarkson College positions, strategies or opinions.”
A common practice among individuals who write about the industry in which they work is to include a disclaimer on their site, usually on their “About Me” page. If you discuss higher education on your own social media site, we suggest you include a sentence similar to this: “The views expressed on this [blog, website] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Clarkson College.” This is particularly important if you could be perceived to be in a leadership role at Clarkson College.
Don’t Use the Clarkson College Logo or Make Endorsements
Do not use the Clarkson College shield, wordmark, or any other Clarkson College marks or images on your personal online sites. Do not use the Clarkson College name to promote or endorse any product, cause, or political party or candidate. Please contact the Marketing department for Clarkson College logo and trademark guidelines.