SUNY Broome encourages the appropriate use of social media as a method for communicating ideas and information, and as part of the educational mission. These guidelines govern employees of SUNY Broome and the behavior of individuals as they utilize a variety of social media technologies and is not limited to any specific media format.
Social media is defined as internet or mobile digital tools and systems used to share and/or receive information or conversation. (Examples: Facebook, YouTube, Linked-in)
Please note that SUNY Broome’s Public Affairs and Marketing and Communications Offices only maintain content for the primary SUNY Broome social media pages on each social media website. Once granted permission to create a social media page, it is the responsibility of the faculty/staff administrator to generate and post content.
Why do we need guidelines for social media?
This page outlines for SUNY Broome employees guidelines for communicating online. Social media has become an integral part of communications and you may already be using these online tools for personal and professional purposes.
Social media guidelines set employer expectations, while empowering employees to tweet, post or blog. In addition, guidelines educate staff on issues and items to avoid in both personal and professional online updates or conversations.
Employees must be aware that when representing SUNY Broome, we need to comply with uniform policies and present one clear message. These guidelines apply to employees when they are participating in social media for work and during personal online activities that may give the appearance that they are still speaking for SUNY Broome. Our unique positions as spokespeople and the voices of SUNY Broome make it imperative that we follow certain accepted standards and practices when using digital platforms. Our credibility as communicators demands a consistency in tone, attitude, actions and professionalism.
This page provides guidelines gleaned from first-hand experiences managing social media for SUNY Broome and from various sources. We hope that you will find the information useful.
What is social media?
(Adapted with permission from Social Media Guidelines Developed by Penn-State)
Blogs, social networks, wikis and websites such as Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube (to name a few) are examples of social media and provide exciting channels for us to share knowledge and connect with others.
Because social media channels rapidly evolve and introduce new opportunities and challenges, we’ve assembled these “best practice” guidelines from respected online and industry sources to help you use these forums effectively, protect your personal and professional reputation, add quality to SUNY Broome and follow College policies.
The purpose of social media
Social media offers the opportunity to engage in conversations with those who care about SUNY Broome and to hear directly from them. Social media has helped to initiate new conversations, respond to feedback and maintain an active dialogue with friends, fans and others. Social media platforms are also effective tools for listening and understanding the needs of our audiences.
Involvement by College marketing and public relations departments in social media can help grow our brand, strengthen our connection among the College and the publics we serve and make us aware of what people are saying and what they may really think about SUNY Broome.
- The keys to success in social media are honesty, thoughtfulness and awareness of your audience. Make sure your communications are in good taste. Be sensitive about linking to content. Directing to another site may imply an endorsement. Above all, exercise good judgment and common sense. Never use profanity, slurs or derogatory comments. Be civil and welcoming. There is no such thing as “private” social media. Remember that what you post has a longer shelf life than you do. Archives 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 transparent and authentic. Be yourself. Be honest about your identity. If you are authorized by your supervisor to represent SUNY Broome in social media, say so. If you choose to post about SUNY Broome on your personal time, please identify yourself as a SUNY Broome faculty or staff member when appropriate. Never hide your identity for the purpose of promoting SUNY Broome through social media. In the end, this could negatively impact your credibility. Never pretend to be someone else and post about SUNY Broome. There have been a number of high-profile and embarrassing cases of company executives anonymously posting about their own organizations. The essence of community is the idea that it exists so that you can support others and they, in turn, can support you. Learn to balance personal and professional information, and the important role that transparency plays in building community.
- Be accurate. Make sure you have all of the facts before you post. It’s better to verify information with a source first rather than post a correction or retraction later. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible; after all, that’s how you build community. If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly. This will earn you respect in the online community.
- Don’t Argue, Provoke, or “Defend”. Its important not to take anything personal. Never respond in the name of the college to posts regarding college policy without supervisor approval and collaboration. And, most importantly, never be drawn into any arguments by reciprocating a negative tone.
- Respect copyrights and fair use. Always give people proper credit for their work, and make sure you have the right to use something before you publish. Only those authorized by SUNY Broome may use the College’s marks or logos, so be sure you do not include SUNY Broome brand symbols in your personal postings. SUNY Broome photographs also may not be used for commercial purposes.
- Protect confidential and proprietary information and follow College policies. Being transparent doesn’t mean giving out the Colonel’s special 11 herbs and spices used in KFC chicken. Online postings and conversations are not private. Do not post confidential or proprietary information about SUNY Broome, its students, its alumni or your fellow employees. Use good ethical judgment. Follow College policies and federal requirements, such as FERPA and HIPAA.
- Endorsements Do not use SUNY Broome’s name or images to promote or endorse products, causes or political parties or candidates. Also, linking to, or following and liking other sites is usually a good thing, but it’s important to consider the associations you want to share with potential applicants, donors and research funding agencies. Make sure your links are appropriate for your audience.
- Monitoring comments Social media sites such as Facebook welcome comments—it builds credibility and community. However, the College does follow the below guidelines on unacceptable posts. The following comments are subject to removal:
- Comments including blatant profanity, racist, sexist or derogatory content
- Product advertisements
- Political support
- Comments that are off topic or spam, or just negative rants with no real question or input on a topic
- Comments that are personal attacks on an individual
In general, if the content is positive or negative and in context to the conversation, then we allow the content to remain, regardless of whether it’s favorable or unfavorable to SUNY Broome. Community managers should be responsive and recognize when a comment requires a prompt response.
Some sites, such as YouTube, allow managers to set comments to require approval before posting. This can be done on a case-by-case basis and is the decision of the unit managing the account.
- Be relevant. Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites are meant to be interactive, current and engaging. If you find your site is not relevant, has few posts or receives little traffic, it would be best to evaluate whether you need a new strategy or if you should focus your energies on other platforms or communications endeavors. Not every digital platform is right for every unit. You should be judicious in your use of social media, selecting those platforms that best allow you to meet your communications goals and objectives.
- Add value. Social media will more likely pay dividends for you if you add value to your followers, readers, fans and users. If it contributes directly or indirectly to the improvement of SUNY Broome; if it allows the general public to learn more about SUNY Broome; or if it builds a sense of community and helps fans and friends feel more connected to SUNY Broome, then it is adding value – but once you launch a platform, you must be committed to its regular care and feeding. Your SUNY Broome-focused Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms should, when possible, follow, mention and share from and to other College accounts, including the College’s core branded sites, which have a broad appeal, large followings and regular updates. These sites include:
SUNY Broome has a strong social media community, and collaboration and support is encouraged.
- Understand and follow site policies. Social media platforms are owned by third parties, which have their own policies and rules for operating accounts on the site and, often, specific rules for brands and businesses. It is important that account managers understand the rules or guidelines they agree to abide by in operating any account.
All official SUNY Broome Community College social media sites must include the words SUNY Broome in the title. Preferably each site should be titled to match the following:
SUNY Broome “name-of-organization”.
Rules of Use:
- Unless specifically authorized by the Public Affairs or Marketing and Communications Office, no SUNY Broome employee or student may create an “official” SUNY presence on any form of social media, now in existence, or created in the future, or represent themselves as a spokesperson or authorized representative of SUNY Broome.
- Faculty or staff using a SUNY Broome email address to create or post comments to social media platforms, or who reference their professional affiliation to SUNY Broome, should include the following disclaimer: The comments and/or postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily reflect SUNY Broome’s opinion, strategies or policies.
- SUNY Broome Employees engaging in the use of social media should review our “Guidelines for Social Media Use” (above).
Departmental Social Media Sites:
- Permission must be granted by the Public Affairs office for a department to create their own “official” SUNY Broome Community College social media site. The Public Affairs office will require administrative access to the created site.
- The Public Affairs or Marketing and Communications Office may request that content managers from various departments administer their own official social media sites. In these cases, “back up” administrative access must be made available to the Public Affairs or Marketing and Communications Office at all times.
Important content considerations:
SUNY Broome’s Public Affairs Office utilizes various social media platforms to present information and content to the public and receive feedback from the public and the SUNY Broome community. Content and information released on social media is equivalent to content and information released to the press and the public in any other format, including press releases, letters to the media, open letters to the public, etc. Care must be taken that content and information released over social media is accurate, does not violate applicable laws (including, but not limited to, copyright, trademark and defamation law) or SUNY policy.
Official SUNY Broome social media may allow members of the public to comment or react to posted content and information. Employees of SUNY Broome acting in their personal capacity may post or comment anonymously or identifiably.
SUNY Broome invites discussion of important ideas and issues through social media. However, SUNY Broome reserves the right to remove posts or comments that are obscene, defamatory, offensive, contain threats of violence, abusive, spam or advertising, or unrelated to the content or information. SUNY Broome also reserves the right to remove posts or comments that violate applicable laws including, but not limited to, copyright and trademark, or those that violate the use policies promulgated by the applicable social media provider.
Users engaged in such practices may also be banned temporarily or permanently from SUNY Broome social media.
Personal use of social media on personal time is not governed by these guidelines. However, individuals may not make statements or take actions at any time on social media that violate applicable law or College policy.
Personal use of social media on State time is governed by the New York State Public Officers Law and other federal, State and Local laws; the State University of New York Acceptable Use Policy as issued by the Office of Administrative Systems; and SUNY Human Resources policies.
Other Applicable Policies:
SUNY Broome’s use of social media is governed by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides a safe harbor for Internet Service Providers and websites for activity that takes place on said sites, provided that the site or domain takes certain actions when legally required.
Responding to Student Inquires
Please remember that we should never share detailed information concerning a specific student’s record.
Example: We should never post the following – “John Doe – you are not getting TAP because you did not meet our standards for academic progress” Instead, we should post – “Please contact the Registrar’s Office to answer your question regarding the TAP certification process”.