Social Media Guidelines

Note: This document is a working draft, is currently being reviewed by the Digital Communications and Technology Group, and and is subject to change to meet the evolving Web and digital needs of the college.

Davidson College has an active and engaged faculty, staff, and student body, and increasingly we are turning to interactive ways to connect and share information online. The college encourages its faculty, staff, and students to use tools such as social media to advance their work and heighten their experience at Davidson College. In an effort to assist and provide direction when using social media, Davidson College has developed the following general guidelines.

If you post on behalf of Davidson College

Be connected. If you have been authorized by your supervisor to create an official Davidson College social media site or a video for posting in locations such as YouTube, please contact the digital communications staff for an approved logo and other images and to ensure coordination with other Davidson College sites and content.

Be respectful. As a Davidson College employee or representative, you should be mindful of the college’s mission as a forum for thoughtful discussion of opposing ideas. Some online communities can be volatile, tempting users to behave in ways they otherwise would not. Your reputation, and that of Davidson College, is best served when you remain above the fray.

Be responsive. If a question or comment is directed toward you through your social media site or page, you should do your best to reply in a timely and appropriate fashion. Think minutes or hours, not days.

Be transparent. If you participate in or maintain a social media site on behalf of the college, clearly state your role and goals. Discuss with your supervisor when you are empowered to respond directly to users and when you may need approval.

Be thoughtful. Before you jump into a discussion thread or respond to a posting, think about the implications. Will your response stimulate positive discussion, provide new information or insight, or inflame? If you have any questions about whether it’s appropriate to enter into a social media discussion or write about certain kinds of material in your role as a Davidson College employee, ask your supervisor before you post or contact the digital communications staff for advice.

Know the rules. Become familiar with the terms of service and policies of sites and networks in which you participate. Pay attention to updates. If the legal language is hard to follow, follow a respected blogger or two who discuss service changes in their posts.

Keep your personal views separate. Uphold the college’s mission and values in your activities. Don’t include political or personal comments. This includes changes to the photo or avatar representing your department in relation to political or social issues.

Be accurate and professional. Nothing erodes credibility more quickly than factual inaccuracies and poor grammar, spelling, and attention to detail. Always double check your facts, and if you are not the best editor, have someone else read your postings before going live.

Be focused and topical. Ensure all the content in your social media channels serves to advance the mission of the college. All topics should be directly relevant to your audience. You can link to content produced by others, but do not post unrelated material simply to drive traffic or because it seems interesting. Make sure all your posts have a purpose. Do not post general information items, like weather forecasts or statewide news, unless there is a specific tie to Davidson College.

Know who you are interacting with. Thousands of people follow Davidson College on Twitter and like us on Facebook; not all of them follow our standards of online decorum. Use caution when sharing or retweeting content from people whose behavior does not embody the values of the college. If the person’s name is vulgar, or if their posts are explicit, rude, or profane, do not share their material or otherwise acknowledge them. Doing so will be interpreted by our audience as an endorsement by Davidson College – even if we include a disclaimer.

Streamline your social-media presence. Use your discretion when deciding which social-media platforms to use and how much time to devote to updating them. It’s better to have a robust, lively presence in one medium (say Twitter) than to have mediocre, inconsistent content on several sites. Do not create multiple accounts for your department or organization on the same site – this will confuse your audience. On Facebook, opt for a “like” page, which is typically used by an organization, rather than a “friend” page, which is intended for an individual.

Department Social Media Feeds

The redesigned Davidson website provides the opportunity for academic and administrative departments to pull in and display their social media account feed(s) for Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other sites directly into their department homepage. The following process and criteria have been established for departments to request this feature.

Request permission. A department may request to display their social media feed(s) on their department homepage by completing a request to Departments will need to provide a plan for their social media sites that includes (1) who manages the account(s), (1) who posts content to the account, (3) intended frequency of posts, and (4) plan for what kind of content will be posted to the account.

Provide administrative account access. Departments must provide College Communications digital staff with administrative access to each social media account they wish to display on their homepage. Changes to account access, including password changes, also need to be updated with College Communications digital staff. Failure to do so may result in the removal of a social media feed from a department’s homepage.

Well-established social media presence. Only well-established social media accounts that have a demonstrated level of content quality, frequency of posts, and account management will be featured on Davidson College department pages.

Social media feed removal. The digital communications staff reserve the right to remove at any time any social feeds from department pages if it determines the social content does not meet the established policy and quality standards as outlined in the Davidson College Graphic Identity Standards or Digital Standards. This can include policy violations, infrequent account updates/posts, or content of poor quality or inappropriate in nature.

Personal Site Guidelines

Be authentic. Be honest about your identity. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as a Davidson College faculty or staff member, but please be clear that you are sharing your own personal views and not representing Davidson College. This parallels media relations practices at Davidson College.

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 Davidson College.”

Don’t be a mole. Never pretend to be someone else and post about Davidson College. Tracking tools enable supposedly anonymous posts to be traced back to their authors. There have been several high-profile and embarrassing cases of company executives anonymously posting about their own organizations.

Take the high ground. If you identify your affiliation with Davidson College in your comments, readers will associate you with the college, even with the disclaimer that your views are your own. Remember that you are most likely to build a high-quality following if you discuss ideas and situations civilly.

Be aware of liability. You are legally liable for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be proprietary, copyrighted, defamatory, libelous, or obscene (as defined by the courts). Employers are increasingly conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending offers. Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you.

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

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.

Follow a code of ethics. There are numerous codes of ethics for bloggers and other active participants in social media, all of which will help you participate responsibly in online communities. If you have your own social media site, you may wish to post your own code of ethics or adapt an existing code already on the Web. Monitor comments. Most people who maintain social media sites welcome comments-it builds credibility and community. However, you can 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 to block any individuals who repeatedly post offensive or frivolous comments.

Link back. You are welcome to link back from your site to