College Social Media Policy
We recognize the value of social media platforms for a range of goals and balance the support of social media with the preservation of our University and College brand identity, integrity and reputation. To help with that balance, we have collected social media guides, cheatsheets and more. Check them out!
Revised December 2017
Universities, Colleges and Extensions around the country use social media to reach people. It is a quick and easy way to share instructional, research and outreach messages with constituents. In most cases, social media is used to communicate about events and important information found on the organization's primary website.
The first step in determining whether to create a new social media account is to determine if it will be a positive enhancement to your educational programming, research project or instruction, and if it will help to reach your intended audience. Other questions to ask include: Will this tool allow me to expand that audience? What information would I convey? How do I get that information out now? Will I or someone else have the time necessary to maintain the social media account?
This policy outlines procedures CABNR, Experiment Station and Extension faculty, staff, students and volunteers need to follow to launch and maintain social media accounts related to our College's or Unit's work and missions.
These policies and guidelines apply to all existing and future CABNR, Experiment Station and Extension related social media sites.
Guidelines to Follow
All social media accounts must comply with these standards:
- All social media accounts must carry the appropriate Block N logo (CABNR, Experiment Station and Extension), presented in ways that adhere to the University's brand, logo and style guidelines.
- This logo must be prominent on the page. Partners' or funders' logos can be added when appropriate. If you wish to do so, first check with the Web & Social Media Communications Specialist, who will consult with the Communications Team on the appropriateness and manner in which to display other logos on the account and get back to you.
- All social media accounts must be objective, research-based and informative. Information must be accurate, and corrections must be made immediately when errors are discovered.
- Information, whenever possible, should direct the public to the College's or the Unit's main website for additional information.
- The social media account must always carry the University's current Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Statement or a link to it. Also include the copyright, Trade or Brand Disclaimer and Special Needs Statements on any social content that, if distributed in print, would require those statements.
- Account content cannot promote commercial products, businesses or enterprises, or include anything that could be construed as a conflict of interest. To avoid confusion, use a disclaimer such as "[Name of College/Unit here] does not endorse any particular commercial product."
- Students or volunteers who manage social media sites must do so only under the supervision of a faculty or staff member, and that faculty/staff member must be listed as an additional administrator of the social media account and have access to it. If/When issues arise, the Web & Social Media Communications Specialist will work with the faculty/staff member whose responsibility it is to work with his/her volunteers. The Web & Social Media Communications Specialist will be an additional account administrator on all CABNR, Experiment Station and Extension social media accounts, but will only make changes on accounts after many attempts to contact the faculty/staff administrator or in extreme/emergency situations.
If you want to create a new social media account for your University-related work, here are the steps to follow:
- Talk about your plan to use social media with your supervisor and others, as appropriate. If you are a student or volunteer, get approval from the appropriate faculty/ staff member. If you are unsure about who that is, contact the Web & Social Media Communications Specialist for help.
- Designate an administrator for the new social media account. The administrator will be responsible for maintaining and overseeing account content and responding to account notifications.
- Fill out the Social Media Form, and email it to the Web & Social Media Communications Specialist, who will review the form and offer guidance and helpful suggestions.
- Blogs must be hosted on the College's or Unit's server; the Web & Social Media Communications Specialist will set that up for you. For other social channels, you will set up the new account. The Web & Social Media Communications Specialist will be available to answer questions and troubleshoot.
- Adhere to the University's Social Media Policy. In addition, Extension sites need to comply with Extension's Communication and Public Relations Guidelines.
- Use the Social Media Accessibility Cheat Sheet to make sure your social media content is accessible for people with disabilities.
Extension videos are posted online at www.youtube.com/user/UNRExtension. If you create a video and would like it to be posted to UNCE's YouTube account, email the video and captions to the Web & Social Media Communications Specialist, who will watch the video and may offer guidance and helpful suggestions before posting in order to ensure it is accessible and of acceptable quality. CABNR and Experiment Station videos are posted online at www.youtube.com/user/CollegeofAgriculture. Contact the Web and Database Communication Manager for posting of videos to this site. He will view them and offer suggestions as needed before posting.
Since social media accounts must be updated regularly to be effective, they will be spot-checked for activity monthly by the Web & Social Media Communications Specialist, who will contact the faculty/staff administrators of social accounts that show no activity for 30 days. Continued inactivity may result in the account being closed. Faculty/staff administrators of social media accounts that do not follow the guidelines in this policy will be notified. Repeated or continual noncompliance may result in the account being edited, or closed, by the Web & Social Media Communications Specialist.
Role of Administrators
Administrators of social media accounts are expected to:
- Remember when engaging that they are representatives of the University. Be professional, courteous and respectful.
- Participate often and consistently, every day if possible. Your social media account will not be valued or visited by the public if there are long gaps between new postings.
- Provide links to important resources. As eXtension notes, "Links are the currency of the Internet."
- Monitor conversations daily to identify needs and issues to which we may respond.
- Help bring different groups and people together for mutual benefit and partnership.
- Assess social media tools regularly. Are they achieving what you hoped they would?
Faculty/staff administrators must have a plan in place in case of a personnel change, if they or their volunteer are no longer going to administer an account. Planning in advance will ensure social accounts do not have downtime or are not lost altogether. When a change in a social media account is to occur, a new Social Media Form reflecting that change must be filed with the Web & Social Media Communications Specialist. For help with finding or installing a new administrator, or closing a social media account, contact the Web & Social Media Communications Specialist.
Social Speech Is Free Speech
The 1st Amendment provides a lot of protection for those commenting on social media, and University social media accounts are public forums created by a public entity. So, on those sites, we must be viewpoint neutral, and we must not pre-screen comments or delete, hide or ban comments or users.
In special cases, we may able to take things down. Before doing so, we must contact the appropriate people, such as the UNR Police Department and the Title IX office. And, we need to document the situation. If you think you may have a special case, immediately contact the Web & Social Media Communications Specialist, who will consult with the Statewide Communications Specialist and Web and Database Communication Manager for help. If you can't reach the Web & Social Media Communications Specialist, and the matter seems urgent, contact one of these two positions immediately.
Melissa Barnard, Assistant General Counsel, is also a resource, 775-784-3492. If you email her, firstname.lastname@example.org, be sure to mark the email as "confidential client-attorney communication."
Policies & Procedures Are Subject to Change
These Social Media Policies & Procedures are subject to change, in accordance with University policy, direction from leadership and the ever-evolving world of social media. When significant changes are made, CABNR, Experiment Station and Extension faculty and staff will be notified.
The Web & Social Media Communications Specialist is the main contact forCABNR, Experiment Station and Extension social media accounts, procedures, policies and guidelines. If there are any concerns, the Web and Database Communication Manager and the Statewide Communications Specialist will consult with the Web & Social Media Communications Specialist and the faculty/staff administrator to resolve them.
Here's the current contact information for these positions (12/2017):
Ashley Andrews, email@example.com, 775-784-4787
Web & Social Media Communications Specialist
Claudene Wharton,firstname.lastname@example.org, 775-784-7070
Statewide Communications Specialist
Robert Moore, email@example.com, 775-784-6604
Web & Database Communication Manager