Social Media Housekeeping

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Social Media Housekeeping

Whew… we did it! We just graduated roughly 1,290 Catamounts, sent away the bulk of continuing students for the summer, and can now wrap up the semester and start looking ahead to next year. This is a good time to do a bit of housekeeping in regards to administration of the social media sites that we administer.

In particular, take a look at the list of admins for the Facebook pages that you manage. Who is on the list? The list should contain at least one staff member from your unit who is ultimately responsible for managing the content, the Social Marketing Director who serves as a backup admin, and other folks you may deem necessary or beneficial to administering your site. (We use a team of students to help manage the content on our sites.) As you peruse your list, ask yourself whether it’s absolutely necessary for that person to have access to the content on your page.

Why is this important? Every person with admin status can post on behalf of your page. Every post should advance some strategic initiative that you’ve planned out for your site and your overall marketing objective. And every post will impact your image and how your audience views the page. Everybody who is allowed to post on your behalf should understand the plan, the tone that you’ve set for your page, and the image that you are trying to develop.

Posts should also be coordinated so that the number of posts is just right… not too much and not too little. All administrators need to be on the same page.

Every admin account in your list is a potential security breech. If someone leaves their Facebook account open on their computer in their office, their room or in a public area, that leaves open the potential for others to hijack the account and make inappropriate posts on behalf of your page. This could happen whether the intent is malicious or in the spirit of a public prank. Be sure everyone is aware of this potential… so they do not leave their accounts open providing access to unauthorized users.

Looking at the list of admins for the sites that I manage directly, I see that four of the five team members who have access to our pages are moving on to other things in their lives and no longer need access to our official sites. So I just removed them from the admin lists. Do you have students or staff who are moving on? Be sure to remove their admin access as part of your exit procedure.

Other social media channels allow for just one set of access credentials which you may be sharing among your group of administrators (i.e. YouTube, Twitter). The same principle holds true. When someone is no longer responsible for administering your site, be sure to change the access credentials (password) so there is no unauthorized access to your official account. Be sure to share the new credentials with the others on your team who do need access (including the Social Media Director).

If you need help with any of this, please let us know. We are here to help!


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WCU Social Media Guidelines

These guidelines continue to evolve as social media evolves and should be considered a work in progress. If you have comments, questions or other feedback, please contact the Social Media Director.

Social media tools can bring tremendous value to the work of the university. Individuals, departments, units, and programs utilize such tools as social networking sites (Facebook/LinkedIn), media sharing sites (YouTube/ Flickr/iTunes/Pinterest) and blogs/microblogs (WordPress/Twitter) to accomplish their strategic goals. The list continues to grow as new tools become available. These technologies offer effective ways to engage with constituents worldwide and provide a powerful vehicle to leverage those relationships.

Western Carolina University supports social media efforts and coordinates them through the Office of Marketing. 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. Please become familiar with these guidelines. The goal is to help you use social media tools effectively, protect your personal and professional reputation and enhance the image and efforts of the university.

1. MANAGING OFFICIAL SOCIAL MEDIA SITES ON BEHALF OF WCU

  • Getting Started
  • Developing Your Site
  • Coordinating Across Campus and Beyond
  • Managing Content

2. CONTRIBUTING TO OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA SITES ON BEHALF OF WCU

3. UTILIZING SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS ON A PERSONAL BASIS

4. TIPS FOR HANDLING NEGATIVE POSTS

5. WCU COMMUNITY GUIDELINES

6. REFERENCED POLICIES

1. MANAGING OFFICIAL SOCIAL MEDIA SITES ON BEHALF OF WCU

Western Carolina University uses a coordinated strategy to manage its social media presence. The office of eMarketing/Social Media 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 the Social Media Director in the Office of Marketing/.

Getting Started

As soon as your department determines it may have a need for its own social media channel, contact the Social Media Director. The SMD can help you to determine which types of social media tools make the most sense for your department and to develop a strategy for using those tools to accomplish your objectives. Once you have a plan, the SMD will assist you through the process of establishing an officially recognized social media site. You will be asked to fill out a short form, designating at least one employee from your unit to administer the site and granting the SMD administrator level access to the account.

Developing Your Site

Naming: Give careful consideration to the naming of your social media site. Your site’s name should be concise so as to take up as few characters as possible while conveying clearly the identity of the channel. In many cases, for example, it would be better to preface the site name with WCU rather than Western Carolina University.

Graphics: Graphic elements (i.e. profile pictures, banner graphics, icons, avatars) must be properly branded, as outlined in the WCU Brand Style Guide, and should be consistent with the rest of your marketing collateral. Contact Creative Services – rschoen@wcu.edu for help in developing these public images for your social media site.

Community Guidelines: Most social media sites allow visitors to post comments and otherwise interact within the virtual community. Convey expectations for community behavior on your site by posting the Community Code of Conduct in a visible area. (see WCU Community Guidelines below.)

Coordinating Across Campus and Beyond

When your approved social media site is ready for launch, the SMC will link to it from university listings and will help promote it to the appropriate audiences. Your site administrator(s) will become a member of the WCU Social Media Administrators group, which provides a number of resources to folks who are managing official social media sites.

Managing Content

During the planning process, before your site was created, you likely developed a strategy for the types of posts, content and interactions needed to accomplish your social media goals. (If you need help with strategic planning for your social media efforts, contact the Social Media Director. Allow the following points to guide the tone and substance of your official posts:

Be respectful. WCU Social Media Administrators respect the dignity of others and are committed to the civil and thoughtful discussion of opposing ideas. Some online communities can be volatile, tempting users to behave in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. Your reputation and WCU’s are best served when you remain above the fray. Refrain from profane, obscene, harassing or defamatory speech.

Monitor comments. Administrators are responsible not only for managing their own posts, but also for monitoring content posted by others in their social media sites. Comments by others are generally welcomed – including those of a negative nature. (Please refer to the Tips for Handling Negative Posts.) While removal of comments, posts, and threads are generally discouraged, WCU does reserve the right to remove comments that violate the Community Guidelines. (Please refer to the WCU Community Guidelines.) Respond to comments and questions in a timely manner and as appropriate.

Public Record. Like e-mail, communication via university-related social media channels is a public record. This means that both the posts of the employee administrator and any feedback by other employees or non-employees, including citizens, will become part of the public record.

Know the rules. Follow the community guidelines of the site you are using. Become familiar with the terms of service and policies of sites and networks in which you participate.

Respect trademarks and copyright. By posting content to any social media site, you agree you own or otherwise control all of the rights to that content, your use of the content is protected fair use and you are not knowingly providing misleading or false information. Media such as photographs and videos are copyrighted, including those commissioned by the university. You should only post photos you have taken yourself or have permission from the photographer to use.

Be accurate. Make sure that you have all the facts before you post. It’s better to verify information with a source first than to have to post a correction or retraction later. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible; after all, that’s how you build community. If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly. This will earn you respect in the online community. Be sure to always spell-check and grammar-check BEFORE you make a post. The social media community can be unforgiving of typos.

Uphold confidentiality. Use good judgment about content and respect privacy laws. Do not include confidential information about the university, its staff or its students. If you have any questions about whether it is appropriate to write about certain kinds of material in your role as a WCU employee, ask your supervisor before you post. Remember that policies such as FERPA apply to social media.

Keep your personal views separate. Uphold the university’s mission and values in your activities. Don’t include political comments or comments on social issues – except in support of positions WCU has already taken. This includes changes to your photo or avatar in relation to political or social issues.

Don’t endorse without permission. Don’t use a university account to endorse any product, vendor, politician or site unless you have permission from your supervisor to do so.

 

2. CONTRIBUTING TO OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA SITES ON BEHALF OF WCU

If you are authorized by your supervisor to represent Western Carolina University in other social media channels, allow the following points to guide the tone and substance of your official posts:

Be transparent. Be honest about your identity. If you are authorized to represent Western Carolina University in social media, say so. If you choose to post about the university on your personal time, please identify yourself as a WCU faculty or staff member. Never hide your identity for the purpose of promoting WCU through social media.

Don’t endorse without permission. Assure that the WCU name is used in a manner that does not imply university endorsement or responsibility for a viewpoint, activity, product or publication. A common practice among individuals who write about the industry in which they work is to include a disclaimer similar to this: “The views expressed on this [blog, website] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Western Carolina University.” Don’t use a university account or official post to endorse any product, vendor, politician or site unless you have permission from your supervisor to do so.

Be accurate. Make sure that you have all the facts before you post. It’s better to verify information with a source first than to have to post a correction or retraction later. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible; after all, that’s how you build community. If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly. This will earn you respect in the online community. Be sure to always spell-check and grammar-check BEFORE you make a post. The social media community can be unforgiving of typos.

Be respectful. Some online communities can be volatile, tempting users to behave in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. Your reputation and WCU’s are best served when you remain above the fray. Refrain from profane, obscene, harassing or defamatory speech. You are more likely to achieve your goals or sway others to your beliefs if you are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person.

Be a valued member. If you join a social network such as a Facebook group or comment on someone’s blog, make sure you are contributing valuable insights. Don’t post information about topics such as WCU events or a book you’ve authored unless you are sure it will be of interest to readers. Self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being banned from websites or groups.

Maintain confidentiality. Do not post confidential or proprietary information about WCU, its students, its alumni or your fellow employees. Use good ethical judgment and follow university policies and state and federal requirements, such as FERPA, HIPPA and the Health Insurance Security/Privacy. If you discuss a situation involving individuals on a social media site, be sure that they cannot be identified. As a guideline, don’t post anything that you would not present at a conference.

Respect trademarks and copyright. By posting content to any social media site, you agree you own or otherwise control all of the rights to that content, your use of the content is protected fair use and you are not knowingly providing misleading or false information. Media such as photographs and videos are copyrighted, including those commissioned by the university. You should only post photos you have taken yourself or have permission from the photographer to use.

Know the rules. Follow the community guidelines of the site you are using. Become familiar with the terms of service and policies of sites and networks in which you participate.


3. UTILIZING SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS ON A PERSONAL BASIS

Social media often span traditional boundaries between professional and personal relationships. If you identify your affiliation with WCU in your comments or your personal profile, readers will associate you with the university, even with the disclaimer that your views are your own.

Think before you post. There’s no such thing as a “private” social media site. Search engines can turn up posts 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. Employers are increasingly conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending offers. BEFORE you post any content, ask yourself how this post could affect the reputation of yourself or the university today or in the future.

Take the high ground. Remember that you’re most likely to build a high-quality following if you discuss ideas and situations respectfully and civilly.

Be authentic. Be honest about your identity. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as a WCU faculty or staff member. However, please be clear that you are sharing your views as a member of the higher education community, not as a formal representative of WCU.

Protect your identity. While you want to be honest about yourself, don’t provide personal information that scam artists or identity thieves could use against you. Don’t list your home address or telephone number or your work telephone or e-mail address. It is a good idea to create a separate e-mail address that is used only with your social media site. Use privacy settings to restrict personal information on otherwise public sites. Choose profile photos and avatars carefully. Be thoughtful about the type of photos you upload.

Don’t use the WCU logo or make endorsements. Do not use the WCU logo, athletic logo or any other WCU marks or images on your personal online sites. Do not use WCU’s name to promote or endorse any product, cause or political party or candidate. 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 Western Carolina University.”

Respect university time and property. University computers and your work time are to be used for university-related educational and business purposes. It’s appropriate to post at work if your comments are directly related to accomplishing work goals, such as seeking sources for information or working with others to resolve a problem. Limited personal use of computing resources is acceptable as long as it doesn’t violate any policies or interfere with your work, but for the most part, you should maintain your personal sites on your own time using non-WCU computers.


4. TIPS FOR HANDLING NEGATIVE POSTS

When you’ve developed a vibrant social media community, it’s inevitable that you’ll get some negative posts. Most of these posts, handled well, create an opportunity to strengthen your community by solving a problem or generating a good discussion. Some may require a team response. Here’s an overview of what to do.

Take a deep breath. It’s important to be calm, thoughtful and strategic when dealing with a negative post. The person who wrote the post is often upset and may have launched a personal attack; never respond in kind. Take the time to consider whether and how to respond.

Analyze. Try to discern the intent of the post. You’ll want to have a conversation, either publicly or privately, with members of the WCU community who are truly concerned about an issue. It’s fruitless to try to have a conversation with a “rager” (the social media term for a person who is chronically angry) or a “troll” (the term for people who enjoy stirring up trouble). You can usually tell the difference by looking at other posts by that person.

Confirm facts. Make sure you know the facts and current university policies and procedures related to the post. Contact a supervisor in the affected area. He or she may have handled similar issues before and can help you craft a response. In some cases, you may want to send an e-mail to the person who wrote the post to get additional facts.

Sympathize; consider whether to apologize. Often people who are upset simply want to know their complaint has been heard. Saying, “I’m sorry that you’re unhappy. How can I help?” can go a long way toward turning a complaint into a conversation. An apology conveys that the university has done something wrong. If you, your supervisor and the supervisor of the affected area agree that a mistake was made, then an apology is appropriate.

Consider going offline. In many cases, the person who wrote the post will be willing to talk with you if you provide your work e-mail address. This is important to preserve people’s privacy or to get all the facts before finding a resolution. If you and the person work out a solution, consider whether to add a post that you successfully resolved the situation.

Say “thanks.” Social media depends on conversations to thrive. And, one of social media’s great strengths is its ability to help identify issues. It’s good practice to thank people for their posts, even if their post is a complaint or otherwise negative. Use judgment here—you don’t want to thank someone for posting something that violates community guidelines—but saying thanks is a way to underscore WCU’s commitment to personal attention and civil discussion.

Clarify. Sometimes social media posts are so brief that they can be misunderstood. Make sure your intent is clear. You also may want to be sure you understood the intent of the person who posted. If the person seems really upset or the topic is sensitive, you may want to do this offline.

Monitor. Often a broad, hostile statement draws no attention at all. Keep an eye on it, and if no conversation develops, leave it alone. You may want to contact the person privately to see if you can provide assistance.

Let your group help. Frequently, other members of your social media community will spontaneously rise to the university’s defense with counterarguments and useful information. Allow time for this to happen.

Use the channel’s rules. Every social media channel—Facebook, YouTube, etc.—has rules in its Terms of Service regarding hate speech, harassment and similar attacks. Cite these rules when you remove such posts and, if necessary, block repeat offenders.

You are not alone. A number of people at WCU have experience in social media, crisis communications and the specific needs of groups such as students, alumni or community activists. If you are unsure how to proceed, contact the eMarketing/Social Media Coordinator.


5. WCU COMMUNITY GUIDELINES

Western Carolina University’s Facebook page encourages active discussion and sharing of information and thoughts.

Western Carolina University is not responsible for comments or wall postings made by visitors to the page. Comments posted also do not in any way reflect the opinions or policies of the University.

Please show respect for your fellow users by keeping the discussion civil. Comments are subject to Facebook’s Terms of Use and Code of Conduct.

WCU Social Media Administrators reserve the right to remove comments that are racist, sexist, abusive, profane, violent, obscene, spam, that advocate illegal activity, contain falsehoods or are wildly off-topic, or that libel, incite, threaten or make ad hominem attacks on Western Carolina University students, employees, guests or other individuals. Messages selling products or promoting commercial, political or other ventures are prohibited.

In addition, election campaign materials or postings otherwise deemed inappropriate will be deleted by the page administrators.


6. REFERENCED POLICIES

FERPA (University Policy 72)
COPYRIGHT POLICY (University Policy 84)
WCU STYLE MANUAL
BEST PRACTICES FOR SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE IN NORTH CAROLINA 


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Millennial use of social media in decision-making

This article, posted in AdAgeBLOGS, focuses on retail shopping habits of millennials (consumers ages 16-34) but contains some info that might be helpful to those of us marketing to current and prospective college students (recruitment and event marketing).

Research indicates that millenials “need help from friends and family in making just about any decision, including which restaurant to eat at. They’ll use technology (social and mobile) to gather opinions. Sixty-eight percent won’t make a major decision without running it by their network first.”

  • All generations are using Facebook these days, but millennials tend to have more friends
  • Millennials, who are often characterized as having flexible loyalties at best, love them some reward and loyalty programs.
  • Millennials prefer brands with a well-developed social- and mobile-media presence

Obviously, Facebook and other social media and mobile tools resonate with this target market segment. But just throwing up a Facebook page is not good enough. Are we providing millennials with content (videos, links, photos) they can share with all the people in their individual networks? Do you see where reward and/or loyalty tools (place checkins/deals) could be a good fit with your program marketing goals? How do your social media channels influence your image in the minds of these students/prospective students? The answers could heavily influence the outcomes of your marketing activities.


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