Social Media Guidelines
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.
Strategic Mission and Purpose
The purpose of Davidson College’s social media strategy is to use social media channels and techniques to advance the college’s mission of preparing students for lives of leadership and service, for solving problems larger than themselves. We will share the amazing stories of how students, faculty and staff defy expectation in discovering new knowledge, competing on and off the field, exploring the world and figuring out how to fix it. We will do this in a manner that elevates the conversation and raises the reputation of Davidson College to a national and international audience.
For more on the Davidson College social media strategy please view the “Telling the Davidson College Story through Social Media” slide deck.
Account Management and Assistance
The primary Davidson College social media accounts (“Davidson College” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and more) are managed directly by College Communications. Department and program accounts are managed by personnel within the same department or program. The guidelines in this document apply equally to the primary Davidson College accounts and the department or program level accounts.
College Communications, through the Digital Communications Director and the Social Media and Digital Content Strategist, works with department and program level social media managers to provide guidance, training and coordination but not direct management.
College Communications provides direct assistance and guidance to department and program level social media managers through one-on-one trainings and consultations, social media office hours, management of the Social Media Strategy Group and through social media workshops. To learn more or to set up an consultation appointment please email email@example.com.
Social Media Strategy Group
College Communications leads the Davidson College Social Media Strategy Group. This group is made up of social media managers from across campus who regularly manage department or program level accounts. The group meets monthly at the discretion of College Communications. The agenda covers upcoming social media opportunities and best practices. To control the efficiency and size of the group, the meeting is not meant for individuals who only manage personal accounts or have limited/sporadic access to official Davidson College branded accounts. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more or to request an invitation.
If you post on behalf of Davidson College
The guidelines in this section are specific for users who manage a formally Davidson College branded account for a Davidson College department or other official group not a personal account. Guidelines for a personal accounts are shared further below.
Be connected. If you have been authorized by your supervisor to create an official Davidson College social media profile please contact email@example.com for a strategic consultation and to acquire an approved profile image and other content to ensure a consistent connection 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. Monitor your social media accounts and key terms to catch mentions and key comments. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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. Personal accounts should not be branded with a Davidson logo.
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. 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.
Be Secure. Maintain complex and unique passwords for each account. Change passwords regularly and after every student takeover. Consider using a password manager to manage the passwords for all of your accounts. Turn on two-factor authentication wherever possible.
Know who you are interacting with. Thousands of people follow Davidson College on social media; 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 might 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.
Comment Policy for all Davidson College Branded Accounts
Davidson College encourages active discussion and sharing of information and thoughts on all of our social media platforms. However, content that includes profanity, personal attacks, commercial promotions, political rhetoric, repeated postings, or is otherwise deemed inappropriate.
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 email@example.com. 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
The guidelines in this section are for individuals (students, faculty, staff etc.) who manage their own personal accounts.
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.
Branding and 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.
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 often 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 www.davidson.edu.
CRowdriff – User Generated Content Tool
Davidson College uses the Crowdriff UGC (User Generated Content) tool to share publicly available social media content on our website, social media platforms and in other marketing materials. Users can request content to be removed from the Crowdriff tool by sending a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.