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Social Media Guidelines

General Rules

Accessibility

RIT is committed to ensuring effective access to communications materials for all members of the university community, including individuals with disabilities.

Permanence

Remember that whatever you share (either on RIT’s behalf or your own personal account) may be public for an indefinite period of time, even if you attempt to modify or delete it.

Copyright and Fair Use

Official RIT social media properties should provide contact names and email addresses, or correct website URLs that point back to the university’s web properties. We emphasize the importance of controlling the administration of organizational social media accounts; that is, keeping the number of administrative publishers to a minimum and having rules in place for managing login credentials. Be careful how you share your social media passwords around the workplace or classroom.

Confidentiality

Do not post confidential or proprietary information about RIT, its faculty, its students, its affiliates, its alumni, or its employees. University and local policies, applicable federal and state laws and regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) and your supervisors should be consulted for guidance on restrictions related to the release of confidential information.

“Do No Harm”

RIT encourages the use of social media to enhance its education and research through collaboration, communication, and promotion of research and programs. You must ensure that your authorized use of social media does not harm or otherwise injure the university, its faculty, its students, its alumni, or its employees.

Association

Keep in mind that on many social networking websites, your name and photo/icon appear next to the content that you post and will be associated with you or with the university when you are representing RIT on the web in an official capacity.

Incidental Use

RIT understands that employees utilize social media and the web for personal matters in the modern workplace. While RIT reserves the right to monitor use of its computer systems, employees may engage in incidental personal use of social media in the workplace so long as such use does not consume significant time or resources, interfere with operations and productivity, and does not violate other university policies.

Personal Responsibility and Liability

Communications made via social media are not exempt from the expectations and obligations set forth in RIT’s policies or from the laws and regulations that govern personal liability across general and traditional forms of communication. You are responsible for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others, and should only post on behalf of RIT or its affiliates in an official capacity only where you have been explicitly authorized to do so.

Audience

Be careful what personal information you share online. Many social networking websites are not secured and information is available to anyone with access to a computer and the Internet.

Privacy

Do not post anything that you would not present in any public forum. In particular, do not discuss a situation involving named or pictured individuals on a social media site without their knowledge or permission.

Best Practices

Be Connected

If you have been authorized by your supervisor to create an official RIT social media site, please contact Dave Tyler, social media director, to help with coordination. We would like to list your site on the official RIT Social Media Directory. Contact the social media director or univnews@rit.edu for more information.

Be Transparent

To both protect the RIT name and build trust with users, social media sites that are established on behalf of RIT entities should be explicit regarding the nature of the relationship to RIT. As a social media representative of the university, you should clearly state your position within the university and the limits of your authority to speak on behalf of the university. Clearly state your role and goals. Discuss with your supervisor when you are empowered to respond directly to users and when you may need approval. Transparency builds credibility and trust.

Be Accurate

Though it is ideal to be the first to post on a particular topic, make sure all of the details and facts are accurate. Proofread before posting. Give credit where credit is due by linking to stories or appropriate sources. This will help generate traffic and build the social community.

Be Active

Diligence and consistency are vital. Social media audiences expect frequent updates. This is especially critical as social media platforms have moved away from chronological timelines toward algorithmic news feeds. If you don’t post regularly, the algorithms won’t show your content to your audiences when you finally do share a post.

Be Timely

Content needs to be current and posted in a timely manner. This includes monitoring and updating. Response to feedback in a timely manner will help build a positive relationship between the site and its audience.

Be Thoughtful

If you have any questions about whether it is appropriate to write about certain kinds of material in your role as an RIT employee, ask your supervisor before you post. When in doubt, ask.

Be Respectful

As an RIT employee, you understand the university’s commitment to the dignity of others and to the civil and thoughtful discussion of opposing ideas. Some online communities can be volatile, tempting users to behave in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. Your reputation, and the reputation of RIT, is best served when you remain above the fray.

Be a Valued Member

If you join a social network, make sure you are contributing valuable insights. Don’t post information about topics like RIT events or a book you’ve authored unless you are sure it will be of interest to readers. Self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being banned from Web sites or groups.

Be a Part of the Conversation

Social media is not a one-way street. In order for your strategy to be effective you need to do more than broadcast your messages. Replying to comments is a great way to join the discussion. Observe what is happening on other university accounts as well. Help to ample our messaging by sharing and promoting the work of other offices.

Think Before You Post

There’s no such thing as a private social media site. Search engines can turn up posts years after the publication date. Comments can be forwarded or copied. Archival systems save information even if you delete a post. If you feel angry or passionate about a subject, it’s wise to delay posting until you are calm and clear-headed.

Be Aware of Your Audience

Always keep your goals and your audience top of mind. Thinking of “goals before tools” will make a big difference in how you decide where to start, what social platform to use, and how to use that platform.

Be Strategic

A social media account is not an end in and of itself. The days of “build it and they will come” are over on social media. You need to post strategically. If you need help building a strategy, contact the social media director.

Brand RIT

This brand portal provides extensive information on Editorial Guidelines, Graphic Standards, Logos, Photography Standards, and Branding Strategies. Use the resources of this brand portal to properly brand RIT within your social media site.

Check the Links

It may seem simple, but always visit any links you share before you post, especially when sharing someone else’s content. It may save you from sharing a broken URL—or worse, unsavory content you wouldn’t want associated with the RIT brand.

Admit Your Mistakes

Mistakes happen on social media. When you make one (posted the wrong URL; made a typo, etc.), admit it. When someone points out your mistake before you notice, thank them for letting you know. Be gracious.

Use RIT’s Comment Guidelines

Our social media comment guidelines help determine what content warrants being deleted from the comments on our social media platforms.

Comment Guidelines

Social media is one of the most amazing communications tools humans have yet come up with. We’re honored to be able to share Rochester Institute of Technology’s great story with you on social media, and we want you to share your comments and thoughts.

We want our social media accounts to be places for active conversation, and we need your help. Here are our guidelines for social media commenting:

  • We value freedom of expression, diversity, and inclusiveness.
  • Keep comments civil and cordial.
  • Comments that contain or link to abusive material, personal attacks, profanity, or spam will not be tolerated and will be deleted at our staff’s discretion.
  • Comments are not an advertising space; don’t endorse, promote, or solicit on behalf of a product or service.

We’re thrilled we get to interact with you on social media as a part of our day jobs, and we’d love to keep it that way.

If you have any questions about this policy, contact Dave Tyler, director of social media, at dave.tyler@rit.edu.

Social Media During a Crisis

RIT uses a layered approach of communications to reach the campus community in notification about emergency situations. Communication methods can be found on our emergency information page.

Social media is also a vital communications tool during a crisis. The following sites are considered the official primary social media sites during an incident:

Members of the Social Media Task Force and other users throughout the university are encouraged to repost or re-tweet official crisis communications.

Measurement

In this section we offer tips on measuring how your social media is working both as a way to show results and as a way to decide what activities to increase and which to decrease.

It is important to understand that social media activities almost never work in a vacuum and that in many cases it can be hard to draw a direct line between an action on social media and a result in the real world. (Exceptions might include sharing a Twitter-specific URL, for example, and measuring how many people click through to that URL and what they do once they’re there.) Therefore it is important to understand “social media results” in the broader context of what other activities are happening as well.

Measuring recommendations below are divided into “Good,” “Better,” and “Best,” with Good being the minimum that anyone investing time and/or money into social media efforts should be doing and Better and Best being things that will offer greater insights but will also incur a greater commitment in time and money. NOTE: Costs mentioned here were current as of December, 2013.

Good

Google Alerts

Set up alerts based on your unit/department name, key people, and key terms. Setting up each alert will take 5 minutes at most at www.google.com/alerts. Be sure alerts are sent to an email account that is monitored daily. Understand that some social media are not open to search engines (such as Facebook) and some alerts will come hours and sometimes days later. This is not a foolproof system, but it is….free!

Cost: Free (but time to set up alerts and monitor alert emails)

Platform-Specific Notifications

Many social networks allow you to receive email notifications of certain events. For example, on Twitter you can receive an email when your “@” name is mentioned, you get new followers, or you receive a Direct Message. Depending on the volume of these, you can elect when to receive emails. A best practice is to at least get emails regarding Direct Message, as these can easily be overlooked in the Twitter interface.

Cost: Free (but time to decide what you want notifications of, etc.)

Bitly URL Shortening

Use this URL shortening service on all links and then schedule time (about an hour per week) to review which shortened links drove the most engagement (RTS, conversations, etc.)

Cost: Free (but time to decide set up Bitly account and make it your default URL shortening service on various platforms)

Hootsuite—Free

A tool for managing social networks by allowing teams to track conversations and measure campaign results. Allows up to five social accounts, but has only basic analytics reports.

Cost: Free (but time to use and take note of results)

Better

SproutSocial—Standard

Allows publishing content to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn; simplifies engagement and permits routing of issues to internal systems—all of which is integrated into a suite of analytics reports. This level allows management of up to 10 profiles.

Cost: $39/user/month

Hootsuite—Pro

This version allows a team of 1 – 10 users to manage social networks, to track conversations, and measure campaign results. This version has limits on the number of accounts, the depth of the analytics, and the amount of monitoring it allows.

Cost: Starts at $8.99 per month

Best

SproutSocial–Deluxe or Premium

Same as above, but these levels allow management of up to 20 and 50 profiles respectively.

Cost: $59 or $99/user/month

Hootsuite—Enterprise

This heavy-hitter version allows a team of 10 or more users to manage social networks to track conversations and measure campaign results. This version has no limits on the number of accounts and the amount of monitoring it allows. It has broad and useful analytics reports.

Cost: Not public, but said to be $1,500 per month

Monitoring and Listening

Monitoring

Please note that services such as Facebook and Twitter offer alerts that can inform you when a person has mentioned you, tweeted at you, or posted to your Facebook page. If you are in charge of a university-associated account it is advised that you set up these alerts so that you may be aware of what’s being posted to your page as soon as it is posted.

An example of the need for monitoring can be found in the case of Qantas Airlines, which has come under fire multiple times in the past for content posted by others. In one case, a commenter posted pornographic imagery that was then seen by a young child who had visited the brand’s public Facebook page. In another, the company was criticized after a rash of racist commentary appeared on its public Facebook page following a controversial company policy change.

RIT social media account managers should be checking their social media accounts at a minimum of once a day and are encouraged to set up alert systems and monitor their accounts with more frequency so that situations such as the ones described above can be addressed quickly and effectively.

Listening

Account managers will often receive questions or may even note general feedback that does not solicit a response. Managers are encouraged to respond in a timely and appropriate manner and to always keep in mind that social media involves a conversation with your audience. You must remember that your voice reflects on the university and conversations must therefore be cordial, and managers must exercise restraint when faced with negative commentary.

Below, is an example in which JetBlue responds promptly and courteously to negative feedback and then provides helpful and relevant information to the stakeholder in question:

JetBlue twitter engagement example

We advise being respectful of others’ viewpoints and striving to provide relevant information when possible. It is also important to recognize positive comments and show support for your regular commenters who show a passion for your brand.