Social Media Policy
…for Official EMU Social Media Accounts
EMU recognizes the importance and benefits of communicating through social media. Social media is a powerful vehicle through which EMU disseminates relevant news to constituents, listens to voices and perceptions of EMU, and builds good will. Social networks and other online media are excellent tools for engagement and two-way communication, but there is the potential for significant risks associated with inappropriate use. Existing legal responsibilities and university policies remain in place when EMU employees use social media.
Audience for this policy
This policy is for students, faculty and staff who manage or contribute to official EMU social media channels (those channels that have some oversight by university staff) including but not limited to channels for academic departments, clubs and offices at EMU on blogs, wikis, and social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
This policy DOES NOT pertain to informal student groups (as opposed to EMU-affiliated clubs) or to the personal use of social media by students, staff and faculty members. Individuals may comment freely on social media, as long as they do not indicate that they are speaking on behalf of EMU.
Before creating an official social media account at EMU, please contact the Marketing and Communications media relations manager. S/he will discuss communications strategies specific to your needs, review the name of your social media account to be clear it is in line with current accounts and best placed for search-ability purposes. You should create an account only in the name of a recognized EMU entity if you are authorized to represent that entity.
The Marketing and Communications brand ID manager will help provide a logo for your account.
All official social media accounts at EMU, with the name and contact information for the account manager, must be communicated to Marketing and Communications. Post only on behalf of EMU or its affiliates in an official capacity where you have been explicitly authorized to do so. Discuss with your supervisor whether you are empowered to respond directly to users and when you may need approval to respond, or when you have questions about the appropriateness of content for posting.
Do not post confidential or proprietary information about EMU, or EMU employees, students, affiliates, or alumni that would violate such persons’ rights to privacy under applicable federal and state laws and regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) and university policies. Non-disclosure agreements that prohibit the university from disclosing information also bind its employees from disclosing such information.
Do not post anything to an official social media channel that should not be shared publicly. In particular, do not discuss a situation involving named or pictured individuals on a social media site without their knowledge or permission. This does not include photos from the EMU digital collections and archives or photos in which individuals are not clearly recognizable. Keep in mind that for reasons of privacy or security some students may not want it publicly known that they attend EMU. Never share Social Security numbers, addresses or other private information. Remember that whatever you share may be public for an indefinite period of time, even if you attempt to modify or delete it.
Do not include confidential information about the university, its staff, or its students in materials posted on social media sites. Examples include information about a student’s grades or performance, admission status, GPA, Social Security number, and any/all other information that would be covered by FERPA; personally identifiable health information such as medical conditions or injuries or healthcare sought or received; and other private personal information that the person has not consented to have published.
Social media posters must also be aware of NCAA rules governing interactions between the institution and its employees and prospective student-athletes. All employees should refrain from contacting (Tweeting, messaging, friending on Facebook) prospective student-athletes prior to signing a National Letter of Intent. Always check with the Department of Athletics’ compliance officials before posting anything that may violate these rules.
Use of social media on an official EMU channel must be managed responsibly because it reflects on the university, its faculty, its students, its alumni, and its employees.
- Emergencies and Crisis Situations: In the event of an emergency or crisis situation, managers of official EMU accounts are asked to share only official information provided by the main EMU social media accounts and shared in official university messages. Sharing information found online or not approved by EMU may lead to false or confusing information reaching the community and spreading online. Official accounts are also asked to delete or postpone any previously scheduled tweets or posts during an emergency or crisis situation.
- HIPAA/FERPA Violation: Social media account managers should take steps in advance to prevent the exposure of confidential medical or student information. Confidential information should never be posted online. Photos should also be inspected closely before publication to make sure no confidential, personal information, such as Social Security numbers, addresses, or academic records, can be seen. Check with marketing for photo permissions for pictures of students.
- Other Users: Other users, including student groups at EMU, may have different interests, attitudes and opinions than official EMU social media accounts. Before retweeting or sharing content posted by others on official university channels, be careful that such content is accurate and reflects the university’s position.
- Correcting Information: If you unintentionally post something online that is incorrect, correct it visibly and publicly as quickly as possible. Doing so will earn you respect in the online community.
To both protect the EMU name and build trust with users, social media such as blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, etc. that are established on behalf of EMU entities should be explicit regarding the nature of the relationship of such media to EMU. Similarly, social media should not be used for any private business or financial transactions nor should any staff with administrative responsibilities realize any personal monetary profit from EMU-related social media.
Content shared via official EMU social media channels, as well as pages or accounts that these channels like or follow, should reflect the mission and values of EMU. Official EMU accounts should refrain from posting content and liking or following users or pages that reflect personal interests or that may be in conflict with EMU mission or values.
Official EMU accounts should encourage engagement and interaction with and among followers; however, they should reserve the right to remove content that is spam, commercial, obscene, harassing or derogatory. If the social network allows for it in the “Bio” or “About” section, official accounts should post a disclaimer similar to this: “Third-party posts on this wall do not imply endorsement of that content by EMU. We reserve the right to remove content that is spam, commercial, obscene, harassing, and/or derogatory.”
EMU official accounts must follow general copyright guidelines when posting intellectual property, including photos and videos, online.
- Materials posted online should be your property, in the public domain, have a Creative Commons license, or fall under fair use. For all other instances, you should seek permission from the copyright holder.
- Where possible, best practice is to include credit/attribution.
- Due to character limitations and platform norms, credit is not necessary on Twitter or Instagram.
- On Facebook and YouTube/Vimeo, you should include a credit.
Terms of Service
EMU University has created best practices and guidelines for the most popular social media platforms. Official channels should follow the best practices for each platform. In some cases, deviation from best practices is warranted, but failure to follow best practices to the detriment of the university may result in, but not be limited to, exclusion from official EMU social media lists or platforms, lack of promotion from the main EMU University channels, and possible deactivation or deletion of the offending account. Deactivation and deletion will be carried out by contacting and working with the school’s communications director or the highest ranking officer of the department.
General Practices to Remember
- The purpose of using these communication channels on behalf of EMU is to support the university’s mission, goals, programs, and sanctioned efforts, including university news, information, content and directives.
- When using an officially recognized social media channel, assume at all times that you are representing EMU.
- Exercise discretion, thoughtfulness and respect for your colleagues, associates and the university’s supporters/community (social media fans).
- Avoid discussing or speculating on internal policies or operations.
- A healthy dialog with constructive criticism can be useful but refrain from engaging in dialogue that could disparage colleagues, competitors, or critics.
- If you have University information and news that you would like to announce to the public or media, please contact EMU Marketing Communications.
- If you have any doubt about posting content on these social media sites, please consult the Marketing Communications team.
It can be helpful to have clear guidelines for moderating comments. Please feel free to use the following to moderate comments on your site, and to post these guidelines to your social media account when appropriate.
- EMU encourages our fans, followers, and friends to share their thoughts with one another
by commenting on a story, feature, tweet, or post that speaks to you. We encourage
lively, thoughtful and civil conversation with the following guidelines:
- Comments must be relevant to a topic discussed and to the point.
- Keep your comments clean and constructive.
- Posts that are off-topic, abusive, contain profanity, are threatening in tone or devolve into personal attacks will be deleted. Period.
- Excessively long comments—as determined by the site’s editor—are subject to editing for length, clarity and space limitations.
- EMU reserves the right to review and remove comments.
Social media channels at EMU must be continually updated and monitored. Accounts that have been inactive for more than one month may be subject to deactivation or deletion. Deactivation and deletion will be carried out by contacting and working with the school’s communications director or the highest ranking officer of the department.