Social Media Policy and Guidelines
Beaver Nation is a large online community. Students, alumni, faculty, staff, clubs, teams, organizations, institutions — all are voices for Oregon State University. When it comes to creating and running social media accounts on different platforms, we believe our audience is best served if we are unified when it comes to content strategies.
Oregon State's social platforms:
The university’s social media presence directly reflects Oregon State’s identity. As generations move forward, social media sites and the way they represent our university come more into play. Working together, we can create an even more impactful presence, both in brand and in content, if we remain on the same page.
A unified approach will also help during emergencies. If we organize around the main Oregon State accounts, we can have timely updates go out to our audience in the event of power outages, snow days, crime or other emergency situations.
Before creating your platform, confer with University Marketing’s social media coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org). Discuss the way the platform will be presented — name, graphics, department group, student group, etc., and come up with a strategy. This will also help build a relationship, as well as allow us to be better informed on what accounts are out there so that we can categorize and share content with the appropriate groups when it comes along across campus. Oh, and make sure to submit your new sites to the social media directory, as well as take a look at the university’s brand guidelines for social media.
Before opening an Oregon State-related account of your own, consider the following questions:
- Are we staffed to properly maintain it at a consistent level? Inactivity, or dead accounts, can cause negative reaction toward the university.
- What sort of content will we be sharing? Is it enough to maintain consistency?
- Who is our audience?
- Will we be able to use this account year-round?
- How can we work with the general Oregon State accounts and other account coordinators across campus? Can we spread our message without having to create our own accounts?
- How will our audience grow? Will it grow? How big is it?
- What platform will serve us best? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Photos? Links? Videos?
Our personal accounts as employees, and how we represent the university
As employees at Oregon State University, what we do and say reflects directly back to the institution, including our activity on social media. And if you work in the field of communications, what you say on your personal accounts and networks will reflect directly on the university and on your career. The blending of public and private communications is a new reality.
While we like to think our personal accounts are private, it is hard for others to distinguish the difference between our personal and professional opinions online, especially when our personal accounts make reference to our employers.
It is important to remember this when posting content online in personal accounts. Think twice when posting items that could reflect negatively on OSU, and remember that social media is not private, no matter how strict you are with your privacy settings. If you don’t want something to be seen by the public, keep it off social media. Realize that whatever you post can eventually be seen by coworkers, bosses, friends, family and even future employers. Use your personal accounts thoughtfully.
Things to think about when posting on personal social accounts
- Avoid anonymity, and represent yourself. Anonymous profiles can lead to more negative content.
- Post within reason, no different than you would offline.
- Accuracy. Be sure that what you put on the web is factually correct and doesn’t reveal sensitive information.
- Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever. Think of yourself as always being on record. Avoid saying anything you wouldn’t be comfortable saying to your co-workers.
- Proof and reproof. Before you hit the ‘post’ button, reread what you’ve written. What you are about to post will be associated with your name forever.
Account Managers: Tips and tricks to running a successful social media platform
Visuals: Posts that include photos and videos are huge for attracting an audience. Images can be from a cell phone or a professional camera, just as long as they relate to your content. If there’s a visual to go along with your text, studies here and here show that readers are more inclined to click — or ‘like,’ or re-pin, or retweet — you get the point.
One voice: Figure in your audience, and decide what type of voice you want behind your social media posts. Do you want funny? Serious? Witty? Informative?
Sit down, talk about it and delegate one individual to be your account’s manager. Everybody has a different personality, and when you multiple managers posting on your accounts, you run into an identity problem. Multiple voices disrupt consistency and cause confusion, and both are important in the social media world. Multiple voices also create scheduling conflicts. Example: Two tweets, one after the other, consisting of two different subjects, confuses readers and essentially hurts viewership.
More than one Admin: Sometimes things need to be addressed quickly on social media, and sometimes the manager doesn’t have access to the Internet. In that case, it’s a good idea to have a “backup plan,” somebody who knows your account’s username and password so that they may deal with whatever arises. Plus, it’s always good to have a second brain — you know, in case somebody forgets a password — or two.
Engage: What generates a following? Asking questions. Ask for opinions in your posts. Find something to get people engaged and interested. Don’t be afraid to be controversial, within reason. Debate is a good thing!
Interact: Answer questions from users or jump in a comment section or two. Show your audience that you actually care about what they’re saying by being a part of the conversation.
Originality: When people read through your timeline of posts, you want them to think “Wow, whoever is running this account knows what they’re doing.” Only original, unseen content can constitute that reaction. Considering that mindset when creating a post will help bring out originality.
Set Rules: The Internet is a crazy place, filled with people who have opinions. Sometimes those opinions are inappropriate. Somewhere on your organization’s page, include some rules for your followers. For instance, the Oregon State Facebook ‘About’ section reads as such: “We encourage you to share your opinions and comment freely. However, if your posts are advertising (for non-OSU events, programs, opportunities), spam, derogatory, discriminating or vulgar, they will be deleted. This page exists to serve those affiliated with Oregon State University.”
Regulate: Social media management is a 24-hour job... Keep watch of what goes on, and be ready to react.
Speed: Proper interaction is done with speed. Don’t wait a day to answer a question or jump into the conversation. Users need interaction and they need it now. As important as it is to be precise, it’s just as important to be swift.
Timing: Believe it or not, there are certain days and certain parts of days that tend to field the most interaction from users. According to the social media management company, Vitrue, the best times to post are in the middle of the day on weekdays. Wednesday actually carries the highest usage statistics. For more, take a look at the study here.
Deletion: Unless a commenter goes against the page rules you’ve laid out, deleting comments should never be an option. Remember that opinions are opinions, and free speech is free speech, even if it goes against what your page may be promoting. By creating your social page, you’ve given users a platform to voice their opinions, and that’s what you want. Most often, censorship only leads to bigger problems.
What to do when emergencies occur
Whether it's a simple snow day or an instance more serious, there will be times when providing information quickly and accurately is vital. These days, it's not via newspaper or website. It's through social media. When an emergencey occurs, keep close watch on the university's main accounts (which will be in direct communication with Relations), and mirror the information they provide.
Be sensitive to the emergencies of others
When serious situations arise elsewhere in the world, the best thing for an account to do is go silent. The social atmosphere is an on-topic universe. The key is avoiding criticism from those who find off-topic posts offensive during a serious time. Do so by haulting all posts entirely until situations have passed.