Review the following guidelines to ensure you’re using social media on behalf of Western Oregon University in a positive and productive way. Contact Lisa Catto with any questions or concerns. An application to become an officially recognized WOU social media account will be available shortly.
The first rule in social media is to listen to what others are saying before you jump in to the conversation. Listening to what people are saying about WOU, or your specific department or organization on campus, will give you a better idea of how to respond. By listening you get a better idea of who your audience is, so it’s easier to target information to them. Thus making it a more enriching (and effective) social media experience.
The Web often feels anonymous – we often don’t know who is behind a post and whether it’s authentic or if someone is being compensated to post. Therefore it’s crucial to be transparent and clear about your affiliation with WOU. If you participate in a social media presence on behalf of the university, you should clearly state your connection to the university, especially if social media has become part of your role on campus. This also helps with credibility if you’re sharing news or correcting information.
Misinformation can spread like wildfire on the internet, especially with tools like Facebook and Twitter where reposting the information is a single click away. Before sharing information, make sure you have all of the facts and that they are accurate. If you’re still missing information (like telling people about an event, but you still haven’t nailed down the location), be clear about what information is yet to come. Whenever possible, cite your information and include links for additional information. And if you happen to make an error, correct it right away and as visible as possible. Meaning, don’t do it in the middle of the night when no one is paying attention, own up and people will respect you for it.
Bear in mind that you are posting on behalf of, or as part of, the WOU community. Therefore you should always be respectful and as the old phrase goes, treat others as you would want to be treated. This doesn’t mean that you can’t disagree with someone’s opinions or hold a discussion, just make sure you are polite. There is no reason for aggressive attitudes or volatile behavior. Remember not only is it your reputation, but that of WOU. Do not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability, or other classification. WOU will not tolerate discrimination. Content should support WOU’s values and strategic plan.
Spam is not limited to canned meat or junk e-mail. Regular users of social media are confronted with spam on a regular basis. If someone is posting that on your social media site, delete it as soon as possible (don’t let spam clutter up your content). It is up to individual areas to determine what constitutes spam – sometimes it’s more clear than others. Also, don’t spam other people. If you have an event coming up, don’t send a message to the invite list each day of the week leading up to the event. Also try to space out your posts (if you’re doing multiple ones in a day) to not clutter news feeds or streams. It’s a difficult balance to stay visible to your followers, but not annoy them.
One of the pitfalls with social media is that when something is posted, it’s easy to forget about it. You’ve put the information out there, now you can move on to something else. But the whole point of social media is having a conversation. People may reply to what you’ve posted, so you need to be monitoring your page frequently (or check for alerts if you’ve set those up through email) so you can respond to any comments or questions right away. Just think like the user – if you asked a question, wouldn’t you want a prompt response? If you are only able to check your department/program’s social media account during specific hours, it’s best to mention that publicly so people know when to expect a response.
Responding in a swift manner is not the only important component to a successful social media presence. You must also be engaged. This means posting regularly with relevant information. People use social media for the fast pace and easy-to-find information. If you aren’t providing regular and accurate information, people will stop going to you as a resource. It’s all too easy to set up an account, use it for a while, then get out of the habit. But meanwhile, users have found you and are expecting to see you post. But remember, don’t post something just because you haven’t posted in a week. Make sure it’s quality content.
Think, then post.
Odds are that your campus-related social media presence is not set to private (if it is, reconsider making it public so people can get a sense of your profile without having to commit to following or friending you). This means that search engines are picking up your posts. If you do a Google search for your campus organization or department, you will likely see your social media posts in the results. People will be able to see your posts for years to come, so think before you post anything. Comments can be forwarded, copied, screen-grabbed, or even archived (which remain, even if a post is later deleted). Related to this, make sure that the people who have access as administrators to your profile(s) are ones you can trust. Don’t post if you’re feeling passionate or angry. It’s just like sending an e-mail, make sure you are calm and clear-headed first.
Follow the rules.
It’s safe to say most people don’t read a terms of service before signing up for something. But when it comes to social media, many people have missed something important – specifically within Facebook. Facebook’s Terms of Service clearly state that organizations are not allowed to have a profile, they must have a fan page. For those organizations, departments and programs on campus with a profile instead of a fan page, Facebook reserves the right to close it down at any moment. It’s therefore best that you migrate the profile to a fan page.
Own your content.
Do not post any confidential or proprietary information about WOU, its students, faculty, staff, alumni, or anything, in any outlet, including social media. Use good judgment and act ethically. Remember, the line between personal and work spaces is blurred within social media and there are potential consequences for what is communicated online. Be sure to follow other university policies such as the Acceptable Use of Computing Resources Policy, and follow legal restrictions on copyright and FERPA regulations. As a guideline, don’t post anything you wouldn’t share in a presentation or put in a flier.