Social media is one of the primary methods for disseminating information and interacting with various audiences – students, faculty, staff, parents, corporate partners, etc. However, because of the ever-changing social media landscape, there are often many questions and concerns about protocol when using these platforms.
These guidelines will help you identify and resolve potential usage issues related to social media including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.
Lawrence Technological University uses social media to supplement traditional public relations and marketing efforts. One of Lawrence Tech’s social media goals is to raise awareness of University programs. Members of the LTU community are encouraged to share University activities, news, and events with their families and friends to increase awareness.
Linking directly to the information source is an effective way to help promote the University’s mission and build community.
Know the terms of service for the platform being used. Also, understand that by using any website or app, there is the implicit agreement not to:
- Send or post unauthorized commercial communications (spam).
- Bully, intimidate or harass any user.
- Post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic or gratuitously violent.
- Do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious or discriminatory.
Social Media Definitions
Creating Social Media Accounts
Before registering a new social media site, notify the University at email@example.com for approval.
- Use an ltu.edu email address for official University sites when possible; use a student organization email address for student sites.
- Keep University contact information accurate and current.
- Understand that passwords and administrator access to the site must be carefully managed.
Posting from LTU Social Media Sites
Before using social media, ask yourself these questions:
What audience are you trying to reach?
What is the purpose of your post and how do you want the audience to respond?
What kind of social interaction will support your purpose?
What tools will be best to use?
Once you have answered these questions and formulated a content strategy, follow these recommendations:
Make sure that you have all the facts before you post. It’s better to verify information with a source first than to post a correction or retraction later. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible – that’s how you build trust, authority and community.
Monitor postings and content regularly. Aim for high traffic times when posting, but don't overload your audience. Your followers will stop paying attention if you ambush them with too much information.
What you write is ultimately your responsibility. The web is not anonymous. Everything posted on behalf of the University can be traced back to the author.
Your posts and comments can be forwarded or copied. Archival systems save information even if you delete a post. Post only pictures that you would be comfortable sharing with the general public (family, friends, employers, etc.).
If the media contacts you about a posting or comment on a social media site, contact the Office of Marketing and Public Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org) immediately.
Respect Your Audience
Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, profanity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable at Lawrence Tech. Do not ridicule, exploit, or demean people based on their age, color, handicap, national origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation. You should also show discretion regarding sensitive topics such as politics and religion.
Posting unauthorized content can result in severe penalties including immediate termination. If you are not sure about a post, it's always best to ask.
The line between professional and personal business is often blurred. Be honest about your identity and who or what institution you are representing, if applicable.
If you manage a social media site on behalf of the University, or you are posting with a University username, the audience views what you post as coming from the University. What you say directly reflects on our institution. Discuss with your supervisor the circumstances in which you are allowed to respond directly to users and when you may need approval.
Respect Confidentiality and Privacy
Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Lawrence Technological University, its students, alumni or fellow employees. Use good ethical judgment and follow University policies and federal requirements, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Review HIPAA requirements and FERPA information.
Do not discuss a situation involving named or pictured individuals on a social media site without their permission.
Do not post anything that you would not present in a public forum.
Don’t Let This Happen
Reckless online behavior can have consequences. Be aware of the damage that can be done to individuals or the University through inappropriate disclosure of personal or confidential information.
Such damage can result in:
- Defamation lawsuits
- Copyright or trademark infringement claims
- Privacy or human rights complaints
- Workplace grievances under a collective agreement or unfair labor practices complaint
- Criminal charges for obscene or hate speech
- Damage to Lawrence Tech’s reputation and business interests
Use of LTU Trademarks
If you create a social media site on behalf of the University, you may use simple graphics representing the Lawrence Tech brand. The Office of Marketing and Public Affairs (email@example.com) can help with graphic design.
The Identity Standards provides information on branding standards and obtaining permission to use the University logo. You may not alter any of the University’s trademarked graphics. Read the Lawrence Tech logo guidelines.
Understand Your Responsibility
You are responsible for complying with the existing rules of social media websites. For example, Facebook has regulations regarding the use of promotions (prizes and giveaways) on its platform. Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you tomorrow.
Best Practices for Social Media
Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you tomorrow. To maximize your efforts:
- Write deliberately and accurately
- Acknowledge and correct mistakes promptly
- Disclose conflicts of interest
- Review criteria for replying to comments, visitor posts, and direct messages
There are many strategies you can use in your posts to attract more attention and increase web traffic and interest in LTU:
- Use backlinks. These links refer users back to an LTU webpage from your social media post.
- Use the hashtags #WeAreLTU and #BlueDevilsDare on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
If you have an official University social media profile, notify the Office of Marketing and Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org so it can be listed on the University’s social media directory.
Does Your Post Pass the Publicity Test?
If your message’s content would not be acceptable in a face-to-face conversation or on the telephone, it will not be acceptable for a social media post. Ask yourself: Would I want this published in the newspaper or posted on a billboard today, tomorrow, or 10 years from now?
Does Your Post Promote LTU in a Positive Way?
If you are mentioning LTU in your posts, provide information that reflects positively on the University. Examples include upcoming events such as lectures, gallery shows and open houses. Other topics: student and faculty achievements, and interesting research. Avoid unflattering, critical, or awkward comments.
The following post is not appropriate because it promotes a rival institution.
If you have questions about whether it’s appropriate to write about certain topics in your role as a Lawrence Tech employee, ask your supervisor before you post.
Copyright protection generally applies as soon as a piece of work (article, music, photo, song, story, or video) is created. Copyright does not have to be registered to be enforceable. If you are going to use copyrighted material, you must ask the copyright holder for permission. The copyright holder may require a fee and specify limits in the use of the material.
Some copyright articles:
Under certain circumstances, brief excerpts of copyrighted material may be quoted or used verbatim for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research without obtaining permission from or payment to the copyright holder. You must, however, always provide the source of the material you use.
Sharing Photos, News Stories and Videos
When posting photos or news stories from other sites, it’s usually permissible if the article includes share buttons or promoted hyperlinks. For example, this news story has share icons on the top left:
Some websites will “extract” or load images from hyperlinks. These include Facebook Debugger and Twitshot. While it may be permissible to visualize how an image will load by using Facebook DeBugger, using Twitshot to post directly is problematic and may be illegal. In almost every circumstance, it is not legal to post a recorded/live video from local or national newscasts, even if LTU is the subject. You can ask for permission and sometimes it may be granted.
Be cautious when posting a video that has a music track. The music must be licensed for use. Unless a license is obtained prior to the use of particular recorded music, the user is in violation – even if the music is playing at an event and can be heard in the background of a video. Posting video on social media has greatly increased ways in which licensing agencies can uncover violations. Fines can be significant and even include jail terms.
Musical artists are typically represented by one of three agencies that monitor copyright violations and charge individuals and organizations a licensing fee for its use. LTU currently pays an annual fee to BMI, one of the three agencies that license popular music, to use the music of the artists it represents.
The University also maintains a contract with Elias Music Library, which contains thousands of original compositions in many different genres. If you need music for an event or video, you can choose compositions from the Elias collection and use them free of charge and copyright restrictions.
When in doubt, please ask the Office of Marketing and Public Affairs (email@example.com).
Unusual Occurrences: Threatening Posts or Criminal Activity
Social media profiles and accounts can be hacked. If you receive questionable posts or disturbing messages, flag the content with the respective social media portal and take screenshots.
Also, you may need to report suspicious or threatening behavior to the dean of students and Campus Safety. In extreme circumstances, you may need to contact law enforcement.
Contact the Office of Marketing and Public Affairs:
Brian M. Breen
Digital Media Specialist
Director of Web Services