Social Media Guidelines

Sharon Jones Schweitzer

Asst. Vice President

University Communications

210-999-8406

sjones@trinity.edu

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Guidelines & Existing University Policies

 

These guidelines are intended to help Trinity University faculty and staff who create and manage social media presences as University representatives, either as individual professionals or on behalf of their academic or administrative departments. Also, these guidelines are designed to give faculty and staff some basic rules of Internet etiquette for consideration during personal Internet use. It is our hope that these guidelines help you enhance your social experience on the Internet. A committee of Trinity faculty and staff, who are active social media users on behalf of the University, created these guidelines. This working group also serves as an excellent resource for getting started with social media or navigating some of its complexities.

Social media include a variety of online tools and services that allow users to publish content and interact with their audiences. Currently, the most common social networks or websites within this rapidly changing media space include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, as well as dozens of other sites.

Through its institutional social media presence, the University communicates directly with and receives instant feedback from online communities that include students, faculty, staff, alumni, prospective students, families, friends and others. The list of social media sites managed by faculty and staff representing Trinity University continues to grow, as does their reach to a variety of important audiences.

Faculty or staff members who manage social media as representatives of Trinity are responsible for following all normal expectations for professional behavior as representatives of the University. Social media postings, including comments and responses, can be stored by and shared with millions of people around the world. These guidelines embrace all the appropriate Universities policies related to the Internet and computer usage at Trinity. These policies include:

It is important to note as well that applications developed for any mobile devices (i.e., iPhones or other smartphones and tablet computers) that use the University's name, nameplate, logos, or other institutionally identifiable information should meet the standards set forth in the Appropriate Use Policy and these guidelines as well.

Social media are constantly changing and evolving. As a result, these guidelines may be updated regularly. We invite Trinity faculty and staff who are considering establishing or have already started a social media site as a University representative to contact University Communications for advice, support and promotion, as appropriate. The office can help you to establish your goals, build a social media plan, learn about do's and don'ts, select the appropriate social media tool to support your goals, promote your site, and otherwise navigate through the process of establishing and maintaining a social media presence.

If you maintain a personal blog or presence on another social media site but there is no indication that you represent Trinity either by text or photos, you need not consult with University Communications, however, please keep the "Best Practices" guidelines in mind. If, however, your social media presence is representing your Trinity department, group, organization or activity, you are also representing your own professional reputation and that of the University. Even on your personal site, if you indicate that you are a Trinity faculty or staff member, visitors to the site may perceive that you are speaking for your department or the University; since you are invoking your professional affiliation with Trinity, it may be hard to contend otherwise if you are not explicit about that fact.

The "best practices" list provides suggestions on how to use social media in ways that can prevent you from inadvertently affecting your professional reputationor how your department or the University is perceived. In addition, if you discuss professional issues on your personal social media site, we suggest you include a sentence similar to this one on your profile or "About Me" page: "The views expressed on this [blog, website] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Trinity University." In this digital age, when social media comments can reach many people rapidly far behind their site of origin, it is worth taking care with such matters.

If you have questions or suggestions about these guidelines or starting or managing social media, please contact University Communications, ext. 8406 or pr@trinity.edu.