Social Media Guidelines and Policies
Countless conversations take place online about Seton Hall University every day, and we want our University’s associates to join those conversations, represent our School and share the optimistic and positive spirits of our brands.
These policies should guide your participation in social media, both personally as well as when you are acting in an official capacity on behalf of Seton Hall University. It is critical we always remember who we are and what our role is in any social media community – to engage and keep our community informed, involved and invested. The same considerations that apply to our messaging and communications in traditional media still apply in the online social media space, including on what you might consider “internal” platforms.
Have fun, but be smart. Use sound judgment and common sense, adhere to the University’s values, and follow the same University policies that you follow in the offline world. To get you started or to help you improve your social media skills, we offer training to our associates through our Web and Digital Communications office as well as online learning portals, and we’ll continue to regularly evaluate our training classes and update them as social media evolves.
Seton Hall University makes certain commitments concerning how we interact with the public and each other, and these commitments apply to interactions that occur on social media platforms as well. We expect the same commitments from all University representatives:
- Seton Hall University will strive to be transparent in every social media engagement.
- Seton Hall University will protect our consumers’ privacy in compliance with applicable Privacy Policies, IT Security Policies, and laws, rules, and regulations.
- Seton Hall University will respect copyrights, trademarks, rights of publicity, and other third-party rights.
- Seton Hall University will be responsible in our use of technology and will not knowingly align our University with any organizations or websites that use excessive tracking software, adware, malware or spyware.
- Seton Hall University will reasonably monitor our behavior in the social media space, establish appropriate protocols for establishing our social media presence, and keep appropriate records of our participation as dictated by law and/or industry best practices.
One Voice: How Seton Hall is Using Social Media, Engagement Tools and Metrics
As an institution, Seton Hall has been an early adopter of social media. These tools enable the University to share what is happening on campus with the world, but more importantly let us hear directly and immediately from students, faculty, staff, parents, fans and friends about what is important to them. This “conversation” is what makes social media so different from traditional forms of institutional communication.
The primary tools the University is currently using are Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Vimeo, Snapchat, Periscope and Pinterest. Units across campus, such as Athletics, Admissions and Alumni Relations are also successfully using blogs, Facebook and Twitter communicate with key audiences. The University utilizes Sprout Social, HootSuite and Google Analytics to monitor, engage and measure our interaction on these networks.
Seton Hall only recognizes social media accounts through official channels that it has administrative credentials to. Units must provide the names of social media account administrators as well as their phone numbers and email addresses. Units must also provide account login information – including username, email and password – in a timely manner. This information will be kept confidential and used for access during emergency situations.
Please advise the Office Web and Digital Communications before you create a group, profile, or fan page on Facebook or account on Twitter. The University, at this time, will not support YouTube, Flickr or Instagram accounts outside of the top institutional channels. Groups associated with sports teams – varsity, club, or intramural – should also advise the Department of Athletics. Any alumni groups should also advise the Office of Alumni Relations.
During times of crisis and / or emergency management, Web and Digital Communications partner exclusively with Public Relations and Marketing, Public Safety and University leadership to issue communications. At these times, communications are to be limited to the top level Seton Hall channels (Pirate Alert, Email, the Seton Hall Website and the main social media channels).
When acting as an official University spokesperson, we expect you to:
- Be trained and follow applicable University policies. All authorized University spokespeople must complete the necessary internal training before speaking on behalf of the University.
- Separate personal from professional. Balancing your professional and personal social media presences can be tricky, particularly if you are an avid user in both arenas. Content that is appropriate and of interest to your personal friends is most likely not appropriate or of interest to your department’s “friends.” Keep these two presences as separate as possible by keeping content about your non-work life on your personal page.
- Define your goals. Before jumping in to social media for your department, program or office, spend time determining what you want to accomplish. Understanding this will help you choose the appropriate tool or tools, create relevant content and understand what is the best way to reach your target audience.
- Create a strategy. The more work you do on the front end, the more likely you are to create a successful social media presence. Define what you hope to accomplish, with whom you wish to engage, and what content you wish to share first, and then begin exploring social media tools.
- Identify a coordinator. Determine who will be the primary person responsible for updating and monitoring your site. Ensure they have the time to check in on the site at least once a day. This does not need to take up a significant amount of time, but successful social media sites are updated frequently, enable easy engagement with viewers and adjust in response to timely events and problems. A page that doesn’t have frequent enough updates (at least once a week) or with unaddressed inappropriate comments can be counterproductive– or harmful. Assign and train a backup for this person.
- Disclose your affiliation with the University. All associates who are speaking for the University must be transparent and disclose their affiliation with the University. How exactly you make this disclosure may vary depending on the circumstances and the platform, but the important thing is to make sure people reading your statement will be able to immediately identify that you are affiliated with the University. These disclosure requirements are equally important for any agency/vendor/partner/third party who is representing the University online. The Federal Trade Commission requires that you disclose your relationship with the University at all times.
- Name yourself. Create a profile name that clearly and concisely identifies your program and its Seton Hall affiliation. Do not identify yourself simply as “Seton Hall,” as that implies you are speaking for the entire institution.
- Choose your tool. After listening, you may find the short, 140- character bursts of Twitter are a good fit for your goals. Or you may have photos, videos and a well-developed community that would be best shared via a Facebook fan page. Do not try to do it all at once – choose a tool that best meets your goals and focus on building a strong presence.
- Experiment. Build out your blog, Twitter stream, Flickr profile, Facebook page or whatever you choose and spend time populating it for several weeks, sharing it with a small group who can provide comments. Have the site up and running well before you plan to launch it so you can become comfortable with maintaining it.
- Listen. All social media platforms have their own standards, styles and expectations. By becoming a consumer of social media well before you become a producer, you will learn how these communities work, what content is of most interest, what other organizations are talking about your topic, etc. Spending a good amount of time on this step will help you better plan what unique contribution your voice can have.
- Keep your messages clean and professional. Maintain a professional tone when posting content. Post only meaningful and respectful comments. Do not write anything about a member of the University community or other schools that could be construed as slanderous or offensive. You are ultimately responsible for what you write. Remember that what you post on the Internet can be shared with just about anyone and will be archived for years. When posting pictures or videos, keep the same professional tone in mind as when you write. Leave those snapshots of intoxicated friends off of your Seton Hall site. Carefully consider content before you post!
- Check your facts before you post. Double check all of your facts before you post something and link to your sources whenever possible. If you do make an error, correct it immediately and visibly. When in doubt, do not post.
- Give credit where credit is due and don’t violate others’ rights. DO NOT claim authorship of something that is not yours. If you are using another party’s content, make certain they are credited for it in your post and they approve of you utilizing their content. Do not use the copyrighted material, trademarks, publicity rights, or other rights of others without the necessary permissions of the rights holder(s).
- Be personal. Be an active member of the online community posting more than just obvious “marketing speak” – don’t be afraid to include personal anecdotes or to share relevant information from other people or organizations. Just be sure to use sound judgment and adhere to the University's values as articulated in the mission statement. Not every post should be about your upcoming events or the great things your office is doing.
- Maintain confidentiality. Do not post confidential information. Also, it is best practice not to post anything about work on any social networking site, including blogs, Facebook, or Twitter, unless your supervisor has directly approved it. Check FERPA regulations or with Web and Digital Communications, 973-761-9099 / email@example.com.
- Comment. A social media site without comments isn’t very social. As a consumer as well as a producer of social media, offer comments on interesting posts and share the good work of others using your sites. Social media is not (only) about sharing your news and success; it’s about sharing information that is of interest to your readers and viewers. When commenting as part of your job, be sure to indicate who you are and your affiliation with Seton Hall. Be prepared to accept and respond to comments.
- Consistently monitor your sites. Quickly address any inappropriate messages or misuse. Such inappropriate content includes spam, advertising, offensive statements, inaccurate information, foul language, or unconstructive criticism of the University or anyone in the University community. Understand that not all comments will be positive, and respond to negative comments professionally and by providing any additional information that may help resolve the issue. Post a disclaimer on your site stating you reserve the right to remove inappropriate comments. Remove those comments containing vulgar language, those that attack any one group or individual and those that are obviously spam.
If you see a post that you think requires or would benefit from an official Seton Hall response, please contact the University’s Chief Social Media Officer, Michael Hyland, in Web and Digital Communications: 973-761-9099 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Be respectful. Anything you post in your role as a Seton Hall employee reflects on the institution. Be professional and respectful at all times on your social media site. Do not engage in arguments or extensive debates with naysayers on your site.
- Be timely. One of the great benefits of social media is the ability to share information almost instantly with a global audience. This timeliness is also one of the expectations of that audience. Be prepared to move quickly in response to new developments, announcements, or emergencies with relevant information on your site. A short amount of accurate information delivered at the time of need can sometimes be more valuable than a full report delivered well after the issue has passed.
- Adjust. You will find some content is popular, some is ignored, and some is just plain cumbersome. All social media tools come with easy-to-use tracking tools, so you can see which posts are viewed and shared most, which generate comments, etc. Be prepared to re-align your strategy in response to who is viewing your site and how they are doing so.
Personal Use of Social Media
Whether you are an authorized University spokesperson or not, when you’re talking about our University or our business on your personal social networks, keep in mind that:
- You are responsible for your actions. We encourage you to get online and have fun, but use sound judgment and common sense.
- You are an important ambassador for our University’s brand, and you’re encouraged to promote Seton Hall as long as you make sure you disclose that you are affiliated with the University. How you disclose can depend on the platform, but the disclosure should be clear and in proximity to the message itself.
- When you see posts or commentary on topics that require subject matter expertise, avoid the temptation to respond to these directly unless you respond with approved messaging the University has prepared for those topics. When in doubt, contact your local Public Relations director.
- Be conscientious when mixing your business and personal lives; be sure to know your work group’s policies regarding personal use of social media at work or on University devices.
The University aggregates all the social media sites on the website and through other social media outlets on the web. Let us know what you are doing so we can help expand your reach by sharing it with these individuals, and also to make sure we are aware of the news and developments you are sharing with your audiences. We can all learn from each other, but it’s easy to slip into a vacuum when working on your own. Contact us and let us know what your intentions are for the account. The University’s Chief Social Media Officer will help you create your accounts and add you to our social media directory.
Chief Social Media Officers
- Michael Hyland, Director, Web and Digital Communications
- Milan Stanic, Digital Communications Specialist