Social Media Guidelines

Social media can be a valuable tool for disseminating information, promoting accomplishments and engaging with students, prospective students, faculty, staff, alumni and the greater community. Each of us has a role to play in telling South’s story; the University encourages respectful and thoughtful use of social media as a medium to do so.

Faculty or staff of academic and administrative units may create social network pages, profiles, boards or feeds on behalf of their department, school, college or program, with supervisor approval. Administrators of such networks should be aware that they are acting as representatives of the University with each comment, photo, post or tweet, and that these communications are reflections of the entire University, who we are, what we do and why that matters.

The Office of Marketing and Communications has put together this list of best practices as a guide:

Be Responsible

  • Be professional, respectful and disciplined while representing the University, and monitor your accounts regularly. You are responsible for what is posted on the account you manage.
  • Verify all information before posting and be transparent in correcting mistakes.
  • During times of an emergency, only share information provided by the main University channels or by official University messages. This minimizes the chances of providing inaccurate or conflicting information that could lead to confusion.

Be Relevant

  • Plan in advance to ensure content is relevant, timely, engaging and adds value.
  • Avoid posting too often or simply to fill a void.
  • Remove University accounts that are not used regularly or that do not support institutional priorities.

Be Respectful

  • Engage in civil and thoughtful discourse; always respect the dignity of others. Realize that there is room on social media for users to express their opinions.
  • Profanity, personal attacks, abusive language, hateful speech and spam are prohibited.

Be Strategic

  • Measure results. Take advantage of analytics to gauge performance and understand audience behavior.
  • Recognize that the same content does not get the same response on all platforms. Each platform has its own preferred image size, effective copy strategies, accessibility features, etc. Be familiar with the different audiences you may have on each channel.
  • Have a strategy for handling negative comments or those that contain inaccurate information. In general, the Office of Marketing & Communications does not recommend deleting user comments unless they include hate speech, abusive language, profanity, advertising, political endorsements or spam. Comments that are not relevant to a post, along with those that include gross inaccuracies or mischaracterizations that could mislead, can be hidden or deleted.

Be Inclusive

  • The University population is a diverse one. Ensure that social media content fosters a culture and climate of inclusiveness and welcomes a diverse set of voices.
  • Written and visual content, including photography and video, should represent who we are and who we strive to be as a community. Be mindful of a wide spectrum of diversity, including in gender, race, age, sexual orientation, mental and physical ability, and academic discipline.

Be On-Brand

Be Secure

  • Minimize security risks by following cybersecurity best practices, including enabling multi-factor authentication and using unique passwords following Computer Services Center recommendations.
  • University employees contributing content to USA social networks must adhere to policies and laws governing privacy of information and records. Any information that should not be shared with a third party under existing University policies or applicable laws should not be disclosed on a social media site.
  • All University social media accounts must have more than one University employee serving as an account administrator.

Be Accessible

  • Ensure that your content is accessible and inclusive to people with disabilities.
  • Write posts and captions with clarity to make text understandable, so that assistive tools like screen readers can effectively read your copy.
  • Provide descriptive image captions and add alternative text for images.
  • Include video captions as they are crucial for viewers with hearing impairments.

Be Independent:

  • Social media networks should not be used by University employees to endorse private businesses, or for personal financial gain. Sharing of content and engaging with other social media accounts that are official sponsors or partners of the University is permissible.
  • University social media accounts should not endorse particular political candidates or electoral causes.
  • State laws and University policies governing ethical conduct and conflicts of interest are applicable to social media.

Published sources used in these guidelines include: