Best Practices for Individuals Posting on an Official University Account

Below are Washington and Lee University's Guidelines for Social Media Managers

  1. Categories for the Social Media Directory:
    1. Official: Accounts have met all of the following criteria:
      1. Officially representing a specific department or office of the University
      2. Managed by that specific department or office of the University
      3. Managed by a person(s) who has been trained by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs on W&L's social media policies and guidelines
    2. Officialish: Accounts have met all of the following criteria:
      1. Officially representing a specific department, office or official student organization of the University
      2. Managed by that specific department, office or official student organization of the University, with oversight from a faculty advisor, in the case of student organizations
      3. Manager(s) have not received training by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs on W&L's social media policies and guidelines
    3. Unofficial: Accounts have met all of the following criteria:
      1. Not officially representing a specific department, office or official student organization of the University
      2. Not managed by a specific department, office or official student organization of the University
      3. Representing some relevant organization or part of the University, relevance to be determined by Office of Communications and Public Affairs
  2. Guide
    1. Usernames:
      1. Account names: Whenever possible, W&L social media accounts should begin with "Washington and Lee University", e.g. "Washington and Lee University Library".
      2. Handles/shortnames: Whenever possible, W&L social media handles should begin with "wlu", e.g. "wluNews" or "wluLex".
    2. Avatars & Photos:
      1. Profile Photos & Avatars:
        1. The Trident should only be used by athletics-related accounts.
        2. No accounts should use the official, unmodified W&L Symbol. Accounts are welcome to modify/add to the the symbol, e.g. the symbol plus the text, "University Library". The only exceptions to this rule are the Official Washington and Lee pages/accounts, e.g. @wluNews.
      2. Cover Photos:
        1. Accounts are encouraged to use visually attractive and relevant photos for cover photos. This could include pictures of offices, staffs, events, etc.
        2. All members of the W&L community are welcome to use photos from our Flickr account.
    3. Descriptions & About Sections:
      1. Accounts are encouraged to accurately and succinctly describe themselves.
      2. It is recommended that About sections include links back to the W&L website.
      3. About sections should include, whenever possible, the following: "Washington and Lee (W&L) encourages contributions to any and all of its social media sites and asks that all contributors observe the civility that the University attempts to foster. We reserve the right to review all comments and will remove any that are inappropriate. A posting may be considered inappropriate if it constitutes bullying, discrimination, harassment, threat of violence, unsolicited advertising (SPAM), obscenity, similar inappropriate or unlawful conduct, or is irrelevant to the page or topic. Any community-contributed content is the opinion of the author and does not represent the views of W&L. W&L abides by the Terms of Service of all social media platforms. We encourage users to use the "Report" links if they find content that is abusive."
    4. Permissions & Privacy:
      1. Comments: Accounts are encouraged to embrace the open, democratic nature of social media by allowing relevant and appropriate comments. Irrelevant and/or inappropriate comments may be removed (see above Posting Notice).
      2. Posting: Accounts are allowed to decide if they want to allow direct posting to Facebook walls. If open posting is allowed, Account Managers take on the responsibility of maintaining a page fit to represent W&L.
      3. Tagging other users: Accounts are allowed to decide this.
      4. Using other users' content:
        1. Accounts are welcome to share or repost user content whenever that sharing function is native to the platform, e.g. "Share" on Facebook or "Retweet" on Twitter.
        2. When there is no native sharing function, e.g. Instagram, accounts should ask permission from users first.
        3. When sharing content across different platforms, accounts should ask permission from users first.
      5. Photographs of Students: University photographers have a (short) list of students who are not to be photographed. Contact Kevin Remington (kremington@wlu.edu) with any inquiries.
    5. Content Recommendations: The following are best practices, not strict policies:
      1. Photo: Whenever possible, include a photo in your posts.
      2. USER Content:
        1. Useful
        2. Share-worthy
        3. Emotional
        4. Relevant
      3. Curation/Creation: Your content can be some split of curation and creation
        1. Curation: Sharing the content from others
        2. Creation: Creating your own content
      4. Sharing your content:
        1. When you would like another social media account to share your content, you can "tag" the other account, thus notifying that account that you have engaged with them. For example, if you want @wluLex to share your Tweet, tag "@wluLex" in your tweet.
    6. Personal Accounts
      1. Social media managers that also have active personal accounts should remain mindful that they, at all times, are representing W&L. It is recommended that personal accounts include a "my views are my own" statement, when space is permitting.

In addition to the best practices for all social media users, the following apply to individuals who are posting on social media accounts on behalf of the University:

Develop a strategy: Consider the audiences you are hoping to reach and the kind of information that they would most like to have from the University. Recognize that the consumers of social media are accustomed to significant interaction. Sites that are dormant ought to be reevaluated. You should have a clear plan for keeping the site fresh and up to date.

Remember that you represent the University: Since your posts to social media sites are apt to circulate well beyond your own audiences through internet search engines, it is critical that you are professional in your communications. If you have any questions about whether or not certain information is appropriate for social media on a University site that you control, contact your office's/department's "social media manager" or a member of the University Communications staff.

Stay above the fray: Should you become aware of unfavorable opinions, negative comments or criticisms about Washington and Lee on blogs or other social media sites, please forward the information to Office of Communications and Public Affairs (wlunews@wlu.edu) for evaluation under the University's Social Media Comment Practices and possible posting of an official response.

Acknowledge your role: If you are representing the University when posting on social media, be sure that you are clear about that affiliation. Discuss with your office's/department's "social media manager" when you are empowered to respond directly to users and when you may need approval.