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Social Media Guidelines

IUP acknowledges that social media venues present an alternative way to communicate with students and other constituents.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is developing a formal set of guidelines that will be formalized in the near future. Until then, the Communications Office offers this local guideline for using social media tools as a means to bring as many offices into compliance with anticipated PASSHE guidelines.

Please note that compliance with PASSHE’s guidelines is necessary, because of legalities associated with terms and conditions that most social media venues require users to agree to before establishing accounts.

  1. Departments and offices who establish social media accounts (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Foursquare, Google Plus, Pinterest, etc.) must register the account with the IUP Communications Office by completing the online Social Media Registration Form.
  2. Any material that is presented on social media networks by an office, department, center, or other IUP entity should represent the institution as accurately as possible and be aligned with IUP’s mission and overall goals.
  3. Individual employees will be held responsible for activity conducted within an institutional social media account.
  4. Likewise, individual employees, not the university, will be held responsible for what is posted on social media sites in the event of legal action.
  5. Be sure to provide proper credit for material that is repurposed from other sites, and be cognizant of intellectual property rights.
  6. Refrain from posting confidential university information or any information that would violate FERPA or HIPAA rules.
  7. Personal social media accounts should not be made accessible from those established in the name of an IUP entity.

Best Practices

The Communications Office has developed a full Social Media Beginner’s Guide that provides advice on managing social media accounts and engaging audiences. Chief information technology officers from the 14 PASSHE universities have developed the following best practices.

Correct Mistakes

If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and be quick with your correction. If you’re posting to a blog, you may choose to modify an earlier post—just make it clear that you have done so.

Be Accurate

Make sure that you have all the facts before you post. It’s better to verify information with a source first than to have to post a correction or retraction later. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible.

Monitoring Comments

Welcoming comments to your site help build credibility and community. Posters are encouraged to determine whether comments will or will not be accepted. If comments are accepted, there should be a clear policy as to what type of comments (profanity, threats, personal attacks, etc.) may be deleted. In general, if the comment is within context with the conversation, then they should be approved regardless if they’re favorable or unfavorable to the institution. Comments that may be unfavorable to your post may not be deleted just because they are unfavorable. Your policy statement should be included in a prominent or appropriate position on your posting site.

Print a flow chart that can help you decide what response, if any, is best.

Use a Disclaimer

A disclaimer, similar to the one below, should be clearly stated on all IUP social media accounts:

Welcome to the IUP XXX Department’s official Facebook page. While we encourage open discussion and the active sharing of information and opinions, the XXX Department reserves the right to remove material that may be deemed unsuitable. Content that includes offensive language, personal attacks, unsolicited advertising or promotions, election campaign materials, or is otherwise deemed inappropriate will be deleted by the administrators. This page is managed by XXX Department. For more information about IUP’s Social Media Policy, visit the Social Media website.

Be Relevant

Social media sites are meant to be interactive, current, and engaging. If you find your site is irrelevant, has few posts, or receives little traffic, it is best to discontinue the site and focus energies on other communication vehicles.

Be Thoughtful

Whenever you have any questions about the appropriateness of a post, you should discuss with your supervisor before you post.

Use of the University Logo

If you create a social media site on behalf of the institution, use simple graphics that represent the institution brand. The institution’s graphics and printing department or public relations organization can provide guidance with graphics and design. IUP’s Graphic Identity Standards can provide you with detail information regarding logo permissions and standards.