University Relations and Marketing
Missouri Southern State University (“the University”) recognizes that social media can be an effective tool for exchanging information and raising the visibility of the University. This document (“the policy”) is intended to provide principles and guidelines for the use of social media by members of the University community (i.e. University officials, faculty and staff members, and others who identify themselves with the University or use a University email address in social media platforms). The policy complements and is in addition to any existing or future University policies regarding the use of technology resources, computers, e-mail, and the Internet.
For the purposes of this policy, social media means any facility for online publication and commentary, including without limitation:
• Social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, MySpace),
• Micro-blogging sites (e.g. Twitter),
• Video and photo sharing websites (e.g. Flickr, YouTube),
• Blogs and wiki's (e.g. Wikipedia),
• RSS feeds, and
• Forums and discussion boards.
This policy is applied to MSSU Social Media materials, communications or sites on the University Intranet, global Internet and World Wide Web (Web) that are funded by, produced on behalf of, directly associated with, or officially representative of the University, its programs, services and/or employees.
Each individual is personally and solely responsible for the content her or she publishes on social media. Social media publication or commentary, whether deliberate professional engagement or casual conversation, carries similar obligations to any other type of publication or commentary. Any conduct by members of the University community that is considered illegal or in violation of University policy in the real world (i.e. offline) is also illegal or in violation of the policy when it occurs online.
Although members of the University community are entitled to express personal opinions, they also have responsibilities to not violate University policies and to not affect University operations negatively. Social media can significantly impact personal, professional and organizational reputations. For these reasons, members of the University community who use social media should follow the best practices provided in this policy.
Use of Social Media at Work
Work-related use of social media by members of the University community (including student workers) includes activities that:
• Involve maintenance of an official, University-authorized social media presence as a required part of the individual’s regular job duties; or
• Directly support an individual’s University-related work goals (e.g. seeking sources for information).
Acceptable use of social networking during office hours is defined as the positive promotion of Missouri Southern State University, its programs, faculty, staff and students and/or services by communicating with prospects, clients and/or those professionals within your field.
If there is no value-added to the University, no Return on Investment (ROI) or Return on Objectives (ROO), then your networking time should be conducted on your personal time.
All other uses of social media are considered personal use. Personal use of social media may occur only during personal time and in strict compliance with governing laws and University policies.
Work-related use of social media is permitted when:
• University resources allow;
• The individual’s supervisor approves;
• The individual’s participation is consistent with the University’s mission and values;
• It is done in compliance with governing laws and University policies, including MOREnet policy; and
• Doing so does not interfere with the individual’s other job responsibilities or commitments to students.
The University maintains an official presence on several social media platforms (e.g. Facebook). These accounts are considered to be extensions of the University website and are managed by University Relations and Marketing.
A University unit (i.e. a division, department, office, or other entity or individual directly associated with or under the authority of the University) may establish a separate social media presence only with proper authorization from the unit supervisor and from University Relations and Marketing.
University Relations and Marketing maintains the listing of social media accounts used to officially represent the University and its various units.
Before establishing a separate social media presence for a University unit, the unit supervisor and University Relations and Marketing must first evaluate whether the unit would be better served by working with University Relations and Marketing to utilize the University's primary social media presence. Important considerations include the purpose and goals for using a separate social media presence, the targeted audience, available resources and the content to be shared.
By creating its own social media presence, a unit must be prepared to take on the responsibilities of managing it, monitoring it, and keeping it updated.
Each social media presence established for official University purposes must:
• Receive prior authorization from the appropriate supervisor(s) and from University Relations & Marketing;
• Be included on the official social media listing maintained by University Relations & Marketing;
• Be associated with a University email address that is monitored regularly;
• Use only official University logos/images for profile photographs;
• Follow appropriate naming conventions that clearly identify the relationship to the University;
• Note in the profile or bio that it is an official presence of the unit;
• Include as much University contact/profile information as possible (address, phone number, fax, etc.);
• Have privacy settings set as open as possible yet still within the social rules of the community;
• Be used to positively support the University and its mission;
• Be monitored by at least one faculty or staff member who will regularly monitor the site, identify any problems and take action when necessary; and
• Be accessible at all times to a supervisor who, for management and emergency purposes, must retain related login/ID information and passwords.
Those authorized to use social media for official University purposes agree to follow the best practices provided in this policy and to adhere to the following guidelines:
• Post only content that is accurate, truthful, legal, and in compliance with University policies.
• Post only content that is provided and/or approved by authorized University faculty or staff members.
• Correct errors immediately and note corrections within the original post.
• When appropriate, reply to questions and comments or forward them to appropriate University staff or faculty members in a timely manner.
• Do not allow any other individual to use your identification for posting or viewing comments.
• Delete posts or comments that clearly violate the University’s comment guidelines.
All posts or comments made on official University social media accounts are subject to review, editing, and removal by the University. The viewpoints, opinions, and actions expressed in comments are those of the individuals themselves and may not reflect University policies or positions. Links to external websites or external content does not imply University endorsement.
To ensure that social media exchanges are informative, respectful, and lawful, the University does not allow content or links to content that is:
• Illegal. Laws that govern use of privacy, copyrights, trade secrets, etc., will be followed.
• Disrespectful. Comments that include personal attacks, profanity, or racist, sexist, threatening, hateful, derogatory, or vulgar content will be removed.
• Off-topic. Unrelated or irrelevant comments or those promoting or selling a product or service will be removed.
If social media activity, whether it be for personal or professional use, is interpreted to be detrimental or damaging to either the University, its reputation, or the University community, disciplinary action may be taken by the University for violation of this policy, including student expulsion or termination of employment. Student disciplinary action is the responsibility of the Dean of Students and will be managed in accordance with policies and procedures outlined in the Student Handbook available online. Employee disciplinary action will be administered according to guidelines enumerated in the Employee Handbook and Faculty Handbook available on the University’s intranet.
Be authentic. Be honest about who you are. A person’s associations and identity can be revealed even if he or she posts anonymously or uses an alias. If you choose to discuss the University via social media or if you participate in social media on behalf of the University, be transparent about your affiliation and role.
Ask yourself: Am I misrepresenting myself and/or MSSU?
Be honest. Do not say anything that is untrue or misleading. If you have a vested interest in something that you are discussing, be upfront about it. If you make an error, build credibility by correcting it quickly and visibly.
Ask yourself: Am I being completely honest?
Be accurate. Verify all facts and information prior to posting. It is better to verify information first than to have to post a retraction or correction later. Also, be sure to check all spelling and grammar.
Ask yourself: Am I certain this information is correct? Have I used a spell-checker?
Be clear. Be mindful that the use of social media can sometimes blur the lines between personal voice and institutional voice. When using social media for non-official University purposes, if you choose to discuss the University or if you identify yourself as a member of the University community, clarify that the views and opinions expressed are yours alone and are not representative of the University.
Ask yourself: Is it clear that my personal opinions and views are solely mine and do not represent the University?
Be professional. Only share content and insights that are valuable and of interest to other users. Content should always be the most professional reflection of yourself, of your views, and/or of the University.
Ask Yourself: Am I sharing valuable content and conducting myself appropriately as a member of the University community?
Maintain confidentiality. Protect your privacy and the privacy of others, and do not share confidential or proprietary information about the University. Use good ethical judgment and follow University policies and federal requirements, such as FERPA. As a general guideline, don’t share anything that you would not present at a public conference.
Ask yourself: Am I sharing information that is potentially proprietary, sensitive, or confidential? Is it legal for me to share this?
Be Respectful. Do not vent, bash, or poke fun at people, organizations, brands, or locations. Do not post anything that is obscene, defamatory, profane, libelous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful, embarrassing to another person, or topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory. When posting on behalf of the University, stay on topic and do not include any comments on political or social issues except in support of positions the University has already taken.
Ask yourself: Could this message be misinterpreted or offensive to anyone (e.g. students, parents, competitors, vendors)?
Take the High Road. Feel free to correct misinformation, but do so respectfully and factually in a non-argumentative manner. Don’t pick fights or try to settle scores. Reputations are best served by remaining above the fray.
Ask yourself: Am I respectfully contributing to the conversation in a helpful and productive manner?
Be Responsive. Monitor comments and build credibility by following-up quickly (e.g. 24 hours) when someone inquires about something you have posted. When posting on behalf of the University, discuss with your supervisor when you are empowered to respond to users and when you need approval.
Ask yourself: Am I responsibly watching the dialogue and responding appropriately in a reasonable amount of time?
Be Smart. Be thoughtful about what you share, and remember that you are legally liable for what you post. What you share on social media will be around for a long time, so consider your content carefully and use common sense.
Ask yourself: Would I be uncomfortable if this was on the front page of the newspaper? Will this come back to haunt me later?
Give Credit. Protect copyrights and fair use, and always credit others for their work, language, and information.
Ask yourself: Do I have permission and/or the right to publish this content? If so, have I given credit to the proper source?
Don’t Sell: Social media are not appropriate venues for a sales pitch. Also, official University social media accounts must comply with all governing University policies in regards to advertising and commercial activity.
Ask yourself: Does this content comply with University policies? Will people be annoyed by such propaganda?
Don’t Cyber-slack. When utilizing social media during regular working time, keep it work related and do not let it take focus from your primary responsibilities. Personal use of social media may be done on personal time only.
Ask yourself: Am I being respectful of University time and property?
Helpful resources regarding social media and the law include:
This policy may be revised, edited, changed or removed at any time with or without notice to applicable individuals.
These Social Media policies have been developed during 2010 in tandem with the University’s acquisition of a Web Content Management System (OmniUpdate) and redesign of the University website. The prevalent use of Social networking by current students, prospective students, faculty and staff necessitates addressing the use of these communication channels on behalf of the University.