Social media as a platform is a powerful tool for communication, marketing and interactive dialogue. The ease and speed of both publishing and accessing information make social media tools both attractive and potentially dangerous. Because the voice of the institution and that of the individual are at risk of blending and blurring, the College has adopted the following policy and guidelines for the development and use of social media.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines social media as“forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.” Such sites include, but are not limited to, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.
Illinois College in no way encourages or discourages personal use of social media by the faculty and staff. The following are guidelines to help anyone who uses social media personally or professionally to follow best practices for the platform.
:: GUIDELINES FOR USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
These guidelines apply for both personal and professional profiles.
Think before you post: As stated in the introduction, online privacy is a perception that is far from reality. Only post if you are comfortable with it being seen by a wide audience and in other formats (such as quoted in a newspaper article). Never post anything you would not want to be seen by a general audience. Never post information that is defamatory, libelous or harassing.
Authorship: Anonymity is rare and things posted by one person are often reposted and relayed by others. Tracking authorship takes time but can be done, even if the original post has been deleted.
Get it right: Be sure to be grammatically correct and check spelling, particularly if posting on behalf of the College. Never post rumors and be sure facts are correct before posting.
Protect yourself and others:Honor confidentiality and proprietary information about Illinois College, its faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. Respect the intellectual property and copyrights of others when posting.
Audience: Posts can and should be constructed to best reach a particular audience. In doing so, please be careful not to alienate any campus group or community.
Personal affiliations: Being affiliated with the College may make your personal profile(s) of interest to others. Please make sure that no posting reflects poorly on the College, provokes or alienates any group such as prospective students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, friends or the greater community as a whole. In addition, it should be clear to readers that the opinions stated on your personal profile(s) are not necessarily shared by Illinois College.
Privacy: Utilize the privacy settings available to users to restrict visitors from viewing your full profile but understand that nothing online is ever fully private.
Endorsements: Do not use the Illinois College logo or your personal connection to the College to endorse something on behalf of Illinois College.
Usage: Please remember that college provided computers and time during office hours are reserved for college-related business and make appropriate and professional decisions on how you use your time and resources.
:: POLICY FOR STARTING OFFICIAL COLLEGE SITES
If you are considering a social media site (such as a Facebook page) as an official page for your office or organization please note the following policy should be followed.
Notify the College: Proposals to develop a social media presence directly associated with Illinois College should be presented to the Office of Marketing and Communication for approval to ensure the site coordinates with the overall brand and other Illinois College sites. Proposal should be presented to the Marketing Committee in writing but a representative is welcome to present the proposal in person.
Have a plan: Social media is only effective when interactive communication takes place. A plan for posting content, managing the site, reviewing user content and monitoring communication should be outlined in the proposal and determined prior to site creation. While there may be a variety of students and staff posting on the page, the user(s) responsible for the pages should be a full-time employee who has received approval from the Marketing Committee and their department/division head before proceeding.
Be brand savvy: As an extension of your office, the site acts as a representative of Illinois College and should fully follow the voice and message of the Illinois College brand. While the medium lends itself to casual exchange and full adherence to strict brand guidelines may not be appropriate (such as using abbreviations instead of spelling out words in an address), in no way should the brand itself or the voice and message of the College be compromised.
Use good judgment: It is never appropriate to use a social media platform to be unprofessional or disrespectful. Under no circumstances should posts disparage other institutions, communities or people. Pranks and jokes should not be posted and controversial topics should be avoided. College news should link to the official press release. Gossip, innuendo or presumption should never be posted. Your personal preferences and views should be separate from your posts on behalf of the College or one of its affiliates.
When in doubt: If you are uncertain about a posting or topic please contact your supervisor or a member of the Office of Marketing and Communication.
:: BEST PRACTICES FOR OFFICIAL SITES
While the Office of Marketing and Communication will not closely monitor official sites, the committee recommends the following best practices for updating official sites. If these best practices cannot be met, we recommend not starting the site.
Post regularly, but not too often:Official pages should have 1-3 postings a week in order to keep followers interested without overwhelming them. Rarely should multiple posts be made in the same day. If necessary, spread them out over the course of the day. Never post multiple items in a row.
Be open to critics: Transparency equals credibility in social media and the nature of the platform opens users up to criticism. Critical posts should usually be left up and carefully addressed. Often these posts are appropriately addressed by other users. Only posts that are libelous, scandalous, offensive or qualify as spam should be removed. When in doubt, contact a member of the Marketing Committee or staff within the Office of Marketing and Communication for advice on responding to or removing a questionable post.
Be vigilant: Like any password protected space, be vigilant in protecting the site and the password. Avoid phishing schemes and alert IT and your divisional vice president if the site is compromised.
Know the rules:The NCAA has specific rules about contacting recruited athletes via social media. Please refer to NCAA rules and be certain all social media interaction is in compliance. In addition, all FERPA and other field specific privacy rules apply in this and every medium.