Updated April 2016

I. Introduction

These guidelines are intended to support Bucknell University faculty and staff who create and/or manage social media presences as University representatives, either as individual professionals or on behalf of their academic or administrative departments. Please note: Social media are constantly changing and evolving. As a result, these guidelines may be updated frequently.

Social media include a variety of online tools and services that allow users to publish content and interact with their audiences. Currently, the most widely used social networks or websites within this rapidly changing media space include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, Periscope, Vine, Flickr and blogs.

Individuals who manage social media on behalf of Bucknell University departments, groups, organizations or centers are responsible for following all normal expectations for professional behavior. Social media postings, including comments and responses, can be stored by and shared with millions of people around the world.

The Division of Communications can provide support to Bucknell faculty and staff who are considering establishing or are already managing a social media presence affiliated with the University. That support may include, but is not limited to:

  • Establishing your social media goals
  • Building a social media plan
  • Identifying your audience(s)
  • Selecting the appropriate platform(s) to execute your plan
  • Learning the "do's and don'ts" of various social media platforms
  • Promoting your social media presence

If you maintaining a personal blog or presence on other social media sites unaffiliated with Bucknell University, either through text or visual elements, please keep in mind that you are expressing your own views which do not necessarily represent those of Bucknell University. If you choose to discuss professional issues on your personal social media channel(s), we suggest you include a sentence in your profile or "about me" page similar to: "The views expressed here are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bucknell University."

In addition to the guidelines below, please refer to the University's Appropriate Use Policy for information on internet and computer usage at Bucknell. Please review in particular section IV below, "Key Appropriate Use Guidelines." It is important to note as well that applications (apps) developed for any mobile devices (i.e., iPhones or other smartphones and tablets) and that use the University's name, wordmark or other institutionally identifiable information should be approved by the Division of Communications, and meet the standards set forth in the University's Appropriate Use Policy.

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II. Getting Started

Before creating your professional social media presence, discuss your intention to do so with your department chair or manager, and develop a social media plan and content calendar.

Questions your plan should address include:

  • What social media, if any, has already been established by colleagues or the University for this purpose? Answering this question will help you avoid duplicating efforts or mixing messages.
  • What do you hope to accomplish with this social media presence?
  • Who is your social media audience?
  • How will social media help you achieve departmental goals?
  • How will you ensure this social media presence reinforces the University's overall goals and reputation?
  • How will you measure success?
  • What will this social media presence give your audience that they can't get anywhere else?
  • Where will your content come from and who will be responsible for creating it?
  • Will the presence be sustainable - will there be enough resources to maintain the account over the long-term?

Study various social media sites to answer the question: Which of the social media platforms available to you will best help you fulfill your goals for reaching your key audiences in an efficient way?

  • Each social media platform has its own set of strengths and weaknesses in areas such as ease of use, type of content included, popularity with various audiences, privacy controls and community user expectations.
  • Understanding what you're trying to communicate will help guide your decision in selecting a platform or platforms. For example, if you're interested mostly in sharing "headlines," Twitter may be your best platform. If you're more interested in developing a community dialogue, Facebook may be the better choice.
  • Learn what the individual platforms offer and how their communities work when developing a social media plan.
  • Focus on one or two platforms, especially in the beginning.

If the social media presence will be for departmental rather than individual professional purposes, identify the faculty or staff member(s) who will manage the site.

  • Each social media tool should have two administrators from your department, and possibly one from the Division of Communications as a backup.
  • Assign at least one of the administrators from your department to be primarily responsible for monitoring and updating your site. This person should be able to check the site at least once daily and, in general, depending on which social media presence you have chosen, update it with new content several times a week.
  • Set clear expectations for this person's understanding of the site's tools, the privacy settings you want to follow, and the frequency of posting and reviewing site content.
  • Assign and train a backup administrator who is familiar with the social media goals you have set.

Select an appropriate name for your site.

  • The site name should make it clear to visitors that it represents a specific profession, department or office associated with Bucknell University.
  • To avoid confusion, try to stay away from using "BU" as a replacement for "Bucknell."

Start small and build your site before officially launching.

  • Create your social media presence and begin populating it with content for several weeks before announcing it broadly.
  • Share the link with a small group of people who can join or become followers and provide feedback. Doing so will allow you to become comfortable with maintaining the site, work out any bugs and develop a small audience before launching more widely.

Announce your launch, focusing on the audience you’re seeking.

  • Briefly describe the focus of your site and the kinds of information you plan to share and encourage people to join.
  • Follow and tag official Bucknell University social media.
  • Other opportunities for promotion include your departmental website and your email signature.

Monitor, measure and be prepared to change.

  • Manage your site regularly and track which content is most popular and best communicates your goals.
  • Depending on your analysis of this information, you may decide to emphasize certain types of content or turn your focus to another social media platform that might better communicate your messages to your intended audience.

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III. Best Practices

  • When using Facebook as a University representative, create a page or group rather than a personal account. If you don't have a personal Facebook account, create a private account or reassign the administrator role to someone in your department or group who will manage the page or group from their personal account.

  • Always be professional and respectful. Anything you post on a social media site in your role as a Bucknell faculty or staff member reflects on you and the University. As such, be professional and deliberate with your comments and avoid engaging in emotionally charged arguments or debates with critics.

  • Use discretion. Consider that your content may be consumed by users without context. Be sensitive and anticipate worst-case scenarios.

  • Be obvious, honest and transparent. Use your own "voice" but make sure it is clear that you are posting as a faculty or staff member at Bucknell. Do not misrepresent who you are or post as another individual.

  • Nothing is truly private in social media. Think about your comments, photos or other content before posting. Remember that anything you share in social media, even within closed networks, becomes publicly available information. Your content can be stored and shared around the world instantly. If it's not something you would share with mainstream media, don't post it on your site.

  • Be active, timely and responsive. Social media requires diligent attention to remain engaging. Schedule time to check your social media channels at least once a day during the work week and plan to post fresh content several times each week.

  • Interact with your community. Do more than just share news. Offer insights and information that are of interest to the network's community that may not be available elsewhere. Comment on interesting posts and encourage related dialogues.

  • Accept but monitor comments and postings by others. Social media thrives because of the community's ability to participate in the "conversation." To support and encourage this interactivity, you should be prepared to accept and respond - judiciously - to comments, not all of which will be positive. If necessary, to correct misunderstandings or factual errors, respond to comments in a professional manner and by providing any information that may be helpful in clarifying the issue. Remove comments that are profane, that attack any individual or group by name or other clearly identifying characteristics and that are obviously advertising or spam. Otherwise, take a light hand.

  • Be a valued member of your own community. Share or re-post information from other, trusted sources that will increase the value of your site and present you as a genuine member of the community.

  • Separate personal from professional. Content that you might share on a personal media site may not be appropriate for sharing on a University-affiliated site.

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IV. Related “Appropriate Use Guidelines” (see www.bucknell.edu/AUP for full document):

  • Do not use University resources (including, for example, email, web pages, or newsgroups) to defame, harass, intimidate or threaten any other person(s), or to promote bigotry or discrimination.
  • Do not promote businesses. While some business-oriented content may acceptable, @ mentions in captions are strongly discouraged.
  • Become familiar with appropriate hashtag use.
  • Do not send unnecessarily repetitive messages (for example, chain mail).
  • Do not publish, post, transmit or otherwise make available content that is copyrighted, obscene or legally objectionable. The University cannot protect individuals against the existence or receipt of material that may be offensive to them. As such, those who make use of electronic communications are warned that they may come across or be recipients of material they find offensive or objectionable.
  • Do not forge, maliciously disguise or misrepresent your personal identity. This policy does not prohibit users from engaging in anonymous communications, providing that such communications do not otherwise violate the Appropriate Use Policy.
  • Do not violate copyright laws. This includes using Bucknell computing facilities and resources to receive, retransmit, duplicate, destroy or tamper with software or data, whether stored or transmitted, unless authorized by copyright, license, University policy and all other applicable laws. Examples of protected materials include written material, sound files, pictures, photos, animations and software not originally created by you
  • Do not use Bucknell email for commercial or political purposes.
  • Do not use Bucknell email for fundraising activities not endorsed by the University.

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