Approved by the Office of Communications on October 9, 2012
The social media best practices outlined below are suggested guidelines for use with College-sponsored social media activity. While intended for those posting on behalf of an official College unit, these guidelines may be helpful for anyone posting on social media in any capacity. In addition to reviewing these guidelines, please also review the College’s Social Media Policy.
Creating your social media account
- Before creating a social media account, please reach out to the Office of Communications so we can assist in planning and add you to our directory of institutional social media accounts. Communications will help you determine who should be responsible for planning and posting content on your account(s), what your goals and objectives are for social media, and how you will measure success.
- Should you wish to use the College logo or other College iconography on your social media account, please consult with and obtain permission from the Office of Communications prior to use. Under no circumstances should the College seal be used for social media. In all cases, the College’s Visual Identity Guidelines should be followed.
- Naming conventions in social media are very important. The Office of Communications can help you choose appropriate names for your social media accounts. Names should, when practical, reference both Connecticut College and the unit or department (e.g. Office of Sustainability). This will help your audience to see your account both as connected to the College and specific to your unit. When a short name is preferable (such as a Twitter handle), we advocate using “CC” as part of your account name (e.g. “CCSustainable”). Account names that use “Conn” are discouraged due to the possibility of confusing with State of Connecticut or University of Connecticut entities.
- Choose your platform(s) wisely. Each social media platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. The Office of Communications can assist in this process.
- Think about how your social media account relates to the College’s website, to other institutional social media accounts, and to other outreach efforts.
Planning social media content
- Achieving your goals through social media requires planning, monitoring and measurement. The Office of Communications can provide tools that will help you achieve your goals on social media. However, you first need to commit to the planning process.
- Social media should be social! As you think about posting on social media, plan content that asks and encourages your audience to engage in a dialogue, not just absorb information.
- Once you create a community on social media, it reflects on you even when people outside of the College community participate in a discussion or post a comment. For this reason, all College social media accounts/pages/sites should be monitored — and moderated, where appropriate — to ensure that posts meet our community standards and social media policy.
Posting and interacting on social media
- Think twice before posting: Privacy does not exist in the world of social media. Consider what could happen if a post becomes widely known and how that may reflect both on the poster and the College. Search engines can turn up posts years after they are created, and comments can be forwarded or copied. If you wouldn’t say it at a conference or to a member of the media, consider whether you should post it online. If you are unsure about posting something or responding to a comment, ask your supervisor for input or contact the Office of Communications.
- Strive for accuracy: Get the facts straight before posting them on social media. Before posting any online material, ensure that the material is not knowingly false; instead, try to be accurate and truthful. If you find that you’ve made a mistake, admit it, apologize, correct it and move on. You should never post anything that is maliciously false.
- Review content for grammatical and spelling errors.
- Be respectful: Understand that content contributed to a social media site could encourage comments or discussion of opposing ideas. Responses should be considered carefully in light of how they would reflect on the poster and/or the College and its institutional voice.
- Remember your audience: Be aware that a presence in the social media world is or easily can be available to the public at large. This includes prospective students, current students, current employers and colleagues, and peers. Consider this before publishing to ensure the post will not alienate, harm, or provoke any of these groups.
- Avoid personal attacks, online fights, and hostile personalities. If a blogger or any other online influencer posts a statement you disagree with, you can voice your opinion, but do not escalate the conversation to a heated, personal argument. Speak reasonably, factually, and with good humor. Try to understand and credit the other person's point of view. Additionally, avoid communicating with hostile personalities in an effort to avoid personal, professional, or credibility attacks.
- Use your true identity. When participating in any social media, be completely transparent and disclose your true identity for your personal protection. Additionally, when commenting on or promoting any College product or service on any form of social media, you must clearly and conspicuously disclose your relationship with the College to the members and readers of that social media.
- Identify your views as your own: If you identify yourself as a Connecticut College faculty or staff member, you should make clear that the views expressed are not necessarily those of the institution.
- Photography: Ensure that you have the right to post photos on social media before posting. This includes permission from those in the photos (or, in the case of students, that they have signed a blanket release form on file in the Office of Communications.) Photographs posted on social media sites easily can be appropriated by visitors. Consider posting images at 72 dpi and approximately 800 x 600 resolution to protect your intellectual property. Images at that size are sufficient for viewing on the Web, but not suitable for printing.
- Whenever possible, link back to the Connecticut College website. Ideally, posts should be very brief and redirect a visitor to content that resides within the College Web environment.
- Be mindful of the public nature of social media, and how easy it is to forward even private messages. Before writing anything to anyone, ask yourself if you’d mind seeing it on the front page of the "New York Times." Before sharing a comment, post, picture or video about or from a friend or colleague through any type of social media, it is a good practice to be courteous and first obtain his or her consent.
Direct all social media questions relating to College work to firstname.lastname@example.org.