Social Media Policy
Created: September 4, 2020; Last Updated: April 20, 2021
Social media platforms provide excellent opportunities to share resources, build community and generate excitement about the work of your department, division or campus center. Whether you are looking to start a new platform or have been managing your platform for several years the practices outlined below should be used to guide how you build and utilize your organizational social media. This policy pertains to Albion College faculty, staff and students representing a College department, division or campus center: social media policies pertaining to students and student organizations are outlined in the Student Handbook.
- Institutional Guidelines for Albion College Accounts
- Community Guidelines for Audience Members
- Responsibilities for Employees with Personal Accounts
Institutional Guidelines for Albion College Accounts
When using social media for your division, department or campus center, there are legal, professional and ethical guidelines that must be conformed to, as well as best practices that will enable you, your platform and your audience, to thrive.
Any account that is run by Albion College staff and faculty and represents an Albion College division, department, team, group, campus location or center is defined as an institutional account and is therefore the responsibility and the property of Albion College. All institutional pages and accounts must comply with Albion College’s institutional guidelines. Failure to comply may result in admins being removed or a page being permanently disabled.
- Respect confidentiality. As a College, we have a responsibility to ensure that confidential or proprietary information about Albion students, employees or alumni is never revealed. When featuring individuals on your social media channels, ensure you have written permission to use any identifying information. Do not feature Albion College students, employees or alumni without permission. Students must have signed the photo/video waiver that they are prompted to complete during Orientation in order to be featured in your content. All content shared on College channels must adhere to College, state, federal and NCAA privacy laws and policies (including rules governing social media interactions between the College and prospective student-athletes), FERPA and HIPAA.
- Respect property. To protect yourself and Albion from repercussions, ensure that all content you post conforms to copyright laws. Do not use creative assets such as audio, video or visual content that you do not have the rights to. Instead, make use of the many sites online that offer free stock photography, music and video content.
- Protect Albion’s reputation. As a representative of Albion College, the content you share should reflect the College’s values and be in line with the College’s institutional voice. Ensure that all content represents Albion in a professional manner, is in good taste and adheres to our institutional guidelines. Remember, departmental/divisional social media presences are an extension of Albion College, not a personal platform.
- Be appropriate. Content shared on Albion College social media platforms should not violate any policy within the faculty, employee or student handbooks; endorse or promote commercial products, services or individuals; endorse or oppose a political candidate or ballot initiative; or violate the terms of the social media platform.
- Protect Albion’s logo and visual identity. Follow Albion College’s branding guidelines to ensure that your use of colors, fonts and the Albion College logo is in line with our policies. The Albion College logo may not be modified under any circumstances.
- Connect with Albion College. Follow and tag Albion’s accounts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube so that we can engage with your content. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be listed in Albion College’s social media directory. This is the official list of Albion College social media accounts representing College programs, departments and administrative/divisional units.
- Prioritize accessibility. As a College, we have a responsibility to ensure that all content we share complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This includes optimizing content for screen readers by including an alt tag description for images, using camel case (capitalizing the first letters of compound words) for multi-word hashtags, and providing captions or a transcript for video and audio content. Email email@example.com for more guidance on your responsibilities regarding digital accessibility.
Starting a New Account
The Albion College Office of Marketing and Communication is responsible for stewarding Albion’s over-arching digital presence, and it is important that new and existing social media accounts are launched and managed in a way that compliments Albion’s holistic digital strategy. To support our joint goal of elevating Albion’s online presence, the following steps must be taken when considering starting a new account to represent an Albion College division, department, team, group, campus location or center.
- Work with the Office of Marketing and Communication. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with our team and make a plan for your new account before you launch. Any new account representing an Albion College division, department or campus center must be approved by and registered with the Office of Marketing and Communication before it is launched.
- Ensure you are not duplicating. Does your office or department already have a presence on the platform you are considering? Check the Albion College Social Media Directory if you are unsure. It is always better to reignite an out-of-use account than to build a new presence from scratch. If you must create a new account, take steps to deactivate the old account, or combine it with your new account. The Office of Marketing and Communication will make the final determination on whether a new account can—and should—be created.
- Assign a point person. All College-affiliated groups, accounts and pages must have at least one College employee as an admin. Even if your department or team doesn’t include a dedicated communications staffer, make sure you have at least one employee who can take responsibility for regularly scheduling content and monitoring activity. It may be helpful to identify two employees who can split this work between them. This will ensure that accounts are regularly monitored, comments and messages are responded to in a timely manner and content is shared regularly. All social media accounts should be connected to an @albion.edu email address. In addition, email@example.com should be listed as an admin so that Albion can access your accounts in the event of your social media manager(s) leaving or in an emergency.
- Develop a legacy plan. Once you have decided who will manage your social media platforms, ensure that there is a legacy plan in place so that social media accounts are accessible if this person (or people) leave, or their job responsibilities change. Account access should be handed over to the new account manager prior to the employee leaving. A legacy plan must be developed and shared with the Office of Marketing and Communication before a new account is launched, and should be updated annually.
Building Your Platform
A good social media presence goes far beyond setting up a new account. To ensure success and serve your audience well, you should consider the following steps in order to build your audience when managing a page or group.
- Connect with Colleagues. New social media manager(s) should connect with firstname.lastname@example.org in order to join Albion’s social media managers group, who convene to share resources and best practices and collaborate on cross-campus initiatives.
- Chart your voice. Before you begin posting, sit down with your team and determine your voice. All Albion-affiliated accounts should post in a way that is professional and respectful of the College, but beyond that, there are many considerations for how you wish to come across. Think about how you want to balance the fun side of your brand with your team or department’s messaging, and decide on some key points that you want to reinforce throughout your content: for instance, if you work in public health, one of your messaging priorities may be to elevate the research that your faculty are undertaking to contribute to the field. Remember, while you should adhere at all times to our institutional guidelines, social media should be fun, so don’t be afraid to get creative in the way you use your voice!
- Build a content strategy. Before you launch your account, make sure you have a plan for how you will generate content. Social media presences thrive when they have regular, timely and engaging content: at minimum, Albion-affiliated accounts should post at least once a week. Take time to build a content calendar that takes into account key dates for your department/division and lays out a mechanism for generating regular content. Feel free to share news and content from Albion’s umbrella accounts, too!
- Let the platform guide the content. Different platforms and content distribution methods benefit from different types of content. Instagram stories are great for on-the-fly photos and videos, while grid content should be more closely curated. YouTube is solely for video content, whereas Twitter and Facebook can host a range of content. LinkedIn is geared towards a business audience, whereas Instagram and TikTok are more fun and casual. Know your platform, and let that guide the content you share. Make sure you do sufficient research into the platform’s algorithms to ensure you are posting at appropriate intervals: for instance, Twitter encourages regular engagement throughout the day, whereas Facebook’s algorithm privileges accounts that only post once daily. Remember, when it comes to how many platforms you utilize, more is not necessarily better. Be strategic about picking platforms that suit your content and your audience, and prioritize having a few well-maintained channels that you post to regularly over many that you only post to sporadically.
- Use hashtags. On supporting platforms, utilize a few key hashtags to elevate your content. Broad-reach hashtags, such as #HigherEd, can help you reach new audiences, whereas branded hashtags such as #MyAlbion can be used to reach your existing audience and encourage user-generated content. Albion uses #MyAlbion and #PurpleAndBold for our umbrella accounts, and #GoBrits for athletic accounts. Use these hashtags, when appropriate, to reach our audience and help us to find and elevate your content. Camel case (capitalizing the first letters of compound words) should be used for multi-word hashtags to ensure they are accessible for those using screen readers.
- Engage with your audience. Social media is a two-way conversation, and audiences will quickly grow fatigued without authentic connection. Listen to what your audience is saying about – and to – you, and respond to your audience’s comments and messages in a timely manner. This will enable your relationships to thrive, help your audience to grow and allow more people to learn about the work of your department, division or team.
- Measure Analytics. Most social media platforms have robust tools for measuring audience behavior and engagement. Use these tools to measure the engagement and reach of your content, and adjust accordingly. Does your audience love your video content, but engage less with text-heavy content? Consider posting and boosting more video, and cutting down on the length of your captions. Monitor when your audience is online and engaging on each platform, and use this to inform what days and times you are posting. Track the growth of your audience, and set goals for your account based on the metrics you see.
During an emergency on campus, the Office of Marketing and Communication team will work alongside College leadership and Campus Safety to distribute information through the College’s main social media channels. With the exception of these channels, all social media accounts associated with Albion College should refrain from posting until the emergency is over unless specifically directed otherwise by the Office of Marketing and Communication.
Community Guidelines for Audience Members
One of Albion College’s core values is belonging. As such, we are committed to maintaining a safe and engaging environment for our community. When making decisions about how best to maintain this, our students, faculty and staff will always be our priority. We expect that when engaging on Albion College groups and pages, community members adhere to the following guidelines:
- Respect One Another. Civil discourse should be maintained at all times on pages and in groups affiliated with the College. Albion will not tolerate hate speech, bullying, name-calling or profanity on our pages or groups. Comments and posts with abusive, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or otherwise offensive content will be flagged and deleted, and the individual who posted will be immediately and permanently blocked from the page or group. Any comments threatening or attacking a member of our community, especially a student, will be flagged and deleted, and the individual who posted will be immediately and permanently blocked from the page or group. Threatening posts will be elevated to the appropriate authorities.
- Respect Confidentiality. Do not share private financial, medical or personal information about any individual in your posts or comments, regardless of whether you are sharing in a closed group or a public page. All content shared on College channels, including visitor content, must adhere to College, state, federal and NCAA privacy laws and policies, and FERPA and HIPAA.
- No Promotions, Spam, Lobbying or Solicitations. Albion College pages and groups are not to be used for lobbying or to solicit business, donations, or contact information. Spam (duplicative comments by the same user) or irrelevant posts will be flagged and deleted.
- Stop the Spread of Misinformation. Before you share a comment or post, fact check, and make sure that the content and the source are accurate. Albion College will not tolerate inaccurate representation of facts. If you are using the words of others in your post, make this clear, and credit all creative and intellectual property you are sharing appropriately.
Facebook and LinkedIn groups can be used to bring together a particular demographic – such as alumni, incoming students, supporters or parents – to network, share resources and build community. We recommend that group admins on official Albion College Groups utilize rules to clearly communicate community expectations. Sharing community expectations, and communicating when members breach these, promotes transparency and encourages community accountability. Rules may vary slightly depending on the purpose of the groups, but the community guidelines spelled out above should provide the framework. Any new members should be prompted to agree to abide by these rules before being admitted.
In addition, Albion College groups:
- Should have a clear purpose to be spelled out in the group description: for example, “A group for students, alumni, faculty and staff of Albion College to share news, events and opportunities across the Briton network.” Albion employees looking to start a new group should connect with Albion College’s Office of Marketing and Communication at email@example.com to help chart the mission and vision of the group.
- Should only admit members from the intended demographic (for instance, only alumni should be admitted to an alumni networking group). Prospective members who are not part of the intended demographic should not be admitted, and current members who do not meet the demographic should be removed.
- Are required to have at least one Albion employee as an admin, along with at least one member of the Office of Marketing and Communication. All social media accounts should be connected to an @albion.edu email address. Where appropriate, groups can have non-College employees as additional admins (for instance, a member of the Alumni Board may be an admin on an Alumni group), but ultimate administrative privileges should fall with College employees.
Failure to Comply
We moderate Albion College social media pages and groups in order to maintain a community of belonging. Failure to comply with our community guidelines may result in a warning and/or your comments being deleted or hidden, followed by a block or ban from the page or group in question. More serious offenses may result in an immediate ban. While every effort will be made to prioritize transparency, Albion College admins reserve the right to make decisions to restrict access to College pages and groups as deemed necessary. These steps are in place to protect our whole community and ensure that everybody feels safe on our platforms.
When moderating content on Albion College social media pages and groups, admins will use the following questions to make informed decisions around when to mute, block or ban a community member.
- Does this post or comment violate local, state or federal laws?
- Does this post or comment harm, directly or indirectly, a member, or members, of our community?
- Is this comment or post malicious or inaccurate?
- Does this post or comment otherwise violate our community guidelines?
Social Media Disclaimer
All Albion College pages and groups are bound by our community guidelines. To increase transparency and encourage community accountability, it is required that, where space permits, the following disclaimer be added the the “about” section of Albion College pages and groups:
One of Albion College’s core values is belonging. As such, we are committed to maintaining a safe and engaging environment for our community. We expect that when engaging on Albion College groups and pages, community members adhere to our Community Guidelines for social media, which can be found at albion.edu/community-guidelines.
Responsibilities for Employees with Personal Accounts
Your personal social media is just that – personal. Albion College values employees’ rights to speak freely on their personal social media accounts. Keeping personal accounts completely separate from institutional accounts is challenging. If you hold a prominent role at Albion, post content that relates closely to the College, or identify yourself as an Albion College staff or faculty member on your accounts, there are steps you should consider to protect yourself and ensure transparency when posting. As an employee of the College, you are personally responsible for any social media activity you conduct using a College email address or on a College website; and/or which can be traced back to a College domain; and/or which uses the College’s Information Systems; and/or which expressly or implicitly identifies you as a College staff person or faculty member. Further, this section outlines the potential impact of personal social media use on your employment relationship with Albion College.
- Think first, post second. The things that can get you in trouble and subject you to discipline in “real life” with the College can do the same in the realm of the internet and social media (e.g. sexually harassing a colleague or inappropriate interactions with students). You may not use social media to post or display comments about coworkers, supervisors, or the College that are vulgar, obscene, threatening, intimidating, derogatory, bullying, defaming, or that violate the College’s workplace policies against discrimination, harassment, or hostility on account of age, race, religion, sex, ethnicity, nationality, disability, or other protected class, status, or characteristic.
- Be transparent. Be clear about your identity: don’t claim to represent an Albion department, division, or team. If you identify yourself as an Albion employee, it may be helpful to include a brief disclaimer to make it clear that your views are your own and that you are not formally representing Albion in this capacity. (Sample language: “All views expressed are my own and do not reflect the views of Albion College.”). You are prohibited from using the Albion College name or image to endorse an opinion, product, cause, business, or political candidate. If you choose to list your work affiliation on a social network, you should regard all communication on that network as you would in a professional network when using a company domain.
- Respect confidentiality. Make sure that you are not sharing confidential or personal information about a member, or members, of the Albion community. As an employee of Albion, you are bound by College, state, federal and NCAA privacy laws and policies, and FERPA and HIPAA. Only authorized institutional staff members may recruit potential student-athletes. The College may be held in violation of NCAA rules and regulations if you use your personal social media accounts to contact potential student-athletes with whom you do not have close personal relationships in an attempt to recruit or entice them to attend Albion.
- Be thoughtful about what you post. While you are free to use your platforms as you wish, remember that individuals are legally responsible for the content they post. Protecting Albion College is part of your job. Protect yourself and the institution by ensuring that the content you share will not cause you problems down the line. Remember, nothing is private on the internet: even direct messages are frequently screenshotted and shared by users, so make sure you don’t say anything you may regret.
- Do not use the Albion logo to represent yourself. The Albion logo and shield and the Albion Athletics logo are designed to represent our organization in its official capacity. As such, they should not be used to represent or endorse an individual. Even if you are representing yourself in a professional capacity, logos should not be used as profile pictures: this can give the impression that your personal content represents the official views of Albion College.
- Remember your audience. Be aware that a presence in the social media world is or easily can be made available to the public at large. This includes prospective students, current students, current employers and colleagues, and peers. Consider this before publishing to ensure the post will not alienate, harm or provoke any of these groups.
- Report violations. If employees observe language or behavior on unofficial sites/accounts where College issues arise, there is an obligation to report conduct that a reasonable person would find abusive, threatening, intimidating, or harassing. To be clear, there is no expectation that employees actively monitor unofficial sites. Rather, employees who observe abusive, threatening, intimidating, or harassing behavior related to a member of the Albion College community, need to report such observations to the College for follow-up. The College has a legal responsibility to respond to such behaviors that it knows or should have known about, and employee knowledge may constitute College knowledge. More importantly, the College has an ethical responsibility to intervene in situations where abusive, threatening, intimidating, or harassing behavior is occurring. If the issue pertains to an employee, please notify the Director of Human Resources. If the issue involves a student, please notify the Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students.
- Respect College time and property. As stated in the Acceptable Use Policy, employees should use College equipment and their work time only for College-related business. Generally, employees should manage their personal social media accounts on their own time. There may be de minimis personal use of social media while utilizing College resources but only to the extent such use does not hinder an employee’s job productivity, the productivity of other employees, or College programs/activities. However, it is acknowledged that faculty may choose to use their personal social media accounts in furtherance of their academic endeavors and employment with the College and this policy is not intended to hinder that option.
- Antiracism. When you are online, you are representing Albion College: our students and our values. There is no room for bigotry, prejudice, misogyny, or hatred in our institution or on our associated social media feeds. Any online violation of our nondiscrimination and/or anti-racism policy, including shared content online, may be cause for discipline up to and including termination.
Nothing in this policy restricts employees’ ability to engage in protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act.
When posting about Albion, staff and faculty should follow our community guidelines. Where appropriate, content related to Albion that violates these guidelines (for instance, by sharing confidential information) will be elevated to College administration.
Violations of this policy will result in a review of the incident and may include action under appropriate College discipline processes. Corrective action may involve a verbal or written warning, suspension or dismissal and/or termination of employment or privileges with Albion College.
Social media platforms and best practices continue to evolve and the College understands that not every situation may be represented in the above policy. For questions regarding Albion College’s social media policy, contact the Office of Marketing and Communication: firstname.lastname@example.org.