Suggestions from the Office of Communications, Marketing, and Brand Management
The Office of Communications, Marketing, and Brand Management has developed the following guidelines for administrators who represent The College of New Jersey through social media. Our office maintains the College’s official Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube presences.
Individual departments are welcome to create their own social media platforms as they see fit, but are reminded that any content they post will represent the college online to a vast and growing audience. Departments are encouraged to inform Emily Dodd, digital content editor, of their plans to use social media platforms, and to receive initial guidance on effective social media strategy. In order to assure quality of content, the following social media guidelines were drafted for TCNJ’s community.
This page is an ongoing project; guidelines will be revised or updated as new social media platforms emerge, best practices evolve, or new concerns arise.
Before creating a social media presence, please consider the following questions.
Do we need a social media presence?
The answer is not necessarily always yes. Social media should be part of a broader communication strategy. Consider the following questions, ideally before you launch a new channel, but even when it is already established:
- What do you hope to achieve?
- Who is your audience?
- What channels would reach them most effectively?
- Do you have the resources and commitment to run these channels well?
- Are other related departments already doing something similar?
- Do you need multiple channels? Would fewer, stronger channels be better?
Suggested Guidelines For Content Posting
What should I post?
Content posted to your social media page should directly relate to your department or organization, and it should bring value to the discussion. This can range from text-based updates and relevant links to relevant photos, video, or audio. The Office Communications, Marketing, and Brand Management has found that the largest feedback in social media comes from engaging your audience directly – asking questions or directly soliciting feedback. Whatever is posted should be aimed at starting or continuing dynamic conversations with your audience.
Try to follow the 80/20 rule: Give your audience things they want to see 80 percent of the time; the remaining 20 percent of the time can be things you want them to see (aka: shameless plugs).
Keep in mind that things can go viral quickly, and controversial topics can result in heated discussions. Are you prepared for that?
Can I post this?
Please remember that the activity on your social media pages will represent The College of New Jersey to a vast audience. Carefully consider your audience before posting any content, and remember to respect the rights and privacy of anyone included in or referenced in your posting.
Do not post any copyrighted or questionably legal content, direct attacks on individuals or groups, libel, etc. Adhere to all college policies, and refrain from using information or conducting activities that may violate local, state, or federal laws and regulations, including infringement of copyright or intellectual property rights.
Keep your page fresh by posting daily, but not so often that you clutter your users’ newsfeeds. Good sources of content include:
- Helpful hints, info, or reminders
- Links to pertinent or interesting campus sites
- Awards and achievements
- Congratulations and well-wishes
- Posts from other campus social media sites
- Posts of interest from related sites off campus
- Campus-related photos
Make sure you are indeed social! Ask questions, comment on the information you’re posting, solicit photos or feedback (if appropriate), share/retweet the posts of others, and work to develop your own authentic personality.
Understand what “social” means
The decision to create a channel that includes conversation should be made with the understanding that members of your audience may have differing, sometimes opposing, views. A site that deletes every negative post is not a social site. Establish ground rules, such as the community guidelines for TCNJ’s official Facebook page, for courteous and appropriate behavior on the page and abide by them.
- If a comment is not correct, set the record straight.
- If a post expresses a problem or a disappointment, and you can help, offer to do so.
- If the comment is opinion, but not in violation of page guidelines, let it stand.
Use good judgment. Be transparent.
No administrator should speak on behalf of TCNJ on college-wide issues without authorization, nor should an employee of one TCNJ department speak “for” another department. In addition, administrators should be clear about their affiliation with the College when answering questions or posting about TCNJ, even on external platforms.
- Social media administrators should not use TCNJ channels to express personal opinions represented as college, departmental or organizational views.
- Attribute any post that does not contain content original to your department and that does not link back to the originator’s site (e.g., include photo credits).
Respect confidentiality and safeguard privacy.
Sharing information on social media is public dissemination.
- Do not release confidential or proprietary information related to TCNJ, its staff, students, alumni or any member of the college community.
- Do not allow fans or followers to reveal their private information during an exchange on an open channel. Take it offline if necessary.
- Do not any release any campus news or information prematurely. If you’re not sure, check first.
- Cybercrime is real. Reset the default privacy settings on social accounts to control who can see what, how information can be searched, and which applications are enabled.
- Create a strong password for each site and change it regularly.
- More information on safeguarding privacy is available from TCNJ Information Technology at http://security.pages.tcnj.edu/
Social media has created the expectation of a prompt response to inquiries or complaints.
- Monitor comments and respond as quickly as possible.
- Consider creating an FAQ site to which common inquiries may be referred.
- Know when to take the discussion offline. After more than 1-2 exchanges, suggest that the poster contact you or someone else who can help via direct message (on Twitter), phone or e-mail. Discourage questioners from posting their private contact information.