Social Media Standards
(revised November 2021)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) supports social media use to promote the University and build relationships with members of the campus community. UNCG encourages schools, colleges, departments, programs and student organizations to create accounts when appropriate and maintain an active presence.
UNCG requires that all officially recognized social media channels join our social media directory and follow and share content from the University’s primary accounts. You can find a list of our primary social channels and directions for joining the directory on the UNCG Social Media Services page.
Social media page administrators are to engage with social media followers safely and responsibly. This includes notifying University Communications about matters of concern on their respective channels. The following standards apply to all social media accounts created by UNCG employees and students for official business purposes of the University. This includes social media accounts of registered student organizations. Student organization accounts represent student organizations that are affiliated with the University and/or choose to incorporate the University’s visual identity standards in their social media venue. These organizations must comply with the University’s social media guidelines and graphic identity guidelines. Accounts also must comply with any applicable federal or state laws and University policies. We encourage employees who post about the University on their personal accounts to also observe these guidelines.
Social media continues to be a rapidly changing medium and our guidelines are subject to change without prior notice. We will do our best to keep them up-to-date.
STARTING & MAINTAINING ACCOUNTS:
Page administrators should follow these guidelines when starting accounts on behalf of a University entity:
Have a strategy. Faculty and staff should devise a content strategy to determine whether a new account is justified. Generally, page administrators should expect to post at least two pieces of original content each week for social media to be an ideal medium. Page administrators also should review the effectiveness of their channels on an annual basis. Employees can contact the social media director in University Communications for advice about starting or retiring accounts.
Page administrators should notify University Communications of all accounts by filling out a request to join the University’s social media directory. University Communications reserves the right to exclude from the directory lapsed accounts or those that don’t follow these standards.
Student organizations that wish to create University-sanctioned accounts must register them through the Division of Student Affairs.
Be aware of Terms of Service: Each social media site has its own terms of service. Please periodically check them to ensure that your usage is within stated terms. If there is a conflict between a site’s terms of service and the state or University policies, please be aware that the University reserves the right to enforce its own policies (including these Social Media Standards) and any applicable federal and state laws. The Office of General Counsel maintains a list of platforms with University approved “click wrap” agreements.
Appropriately set your privacy settings: For UNCG accounts, it is required by the state that all privacy settings be set to “public.” There may be unique situations where a “private” group for a restricted audience is appropriate; consult with your unit’s marketing leader for guidance. For personal accounts, be aware of privacy settings and what information is easily available to the general public. That said, do not assume that a privacy setting will protect your content from being passed beyond your intended audience. Only publish content that you are willing to disclose.
Be safe: While we recommend using the same username across several platforms, we do not recommend duplicating passwords, as it allows attackers to more easily compromise the accounts. Passwords also should be changed periodically. While you should use your true identity, be aware of what information you are publicizing to people who may be scam artists or identity thieves. For instance, we highly recommend not listing your home address on social media sites.
Be intentional about separating personal and professional channels and maintaining the integrity of account information: Campus units should register their social media accounts with University email addresses. Likewise, accounts used for personal purposes should be registered to individuals’ personal email addresses. An exception to this requirement is situations where individuals are granted administrative access to a business page through their personal profile and must use their campus email address to facilitate business on behalf of the University (e.g. Facebook and LinkedIn).
Departments and programs are advised to register their accounts to a Google Collaborative Inbox to prevent lockout of accounts when employees leave the University. Account managers also should keep an updated log of those authorized to manage your unit’s social media. Maintain a list of social media domains, as well as active account logins and passwords – and don’t forget to change the passwords if the original administrator is removed.
Don’t use the UNCG name, logos or trademarks in personal social media or for private gain: The name “UNCG” and its logos and trademarks may be used only by social media platforms of student groups officially recognized by Student Affairs and official University programs, departments, schools, units, Intercollegiate Athletics athletes under Name, Image, and Likeness guidelines, and other entities. Do not make endorsements using the UNCG name logos or trademarks. See Licensing Policies for more information.
Campus community members and UNCG supporters may use University-produced visual assets or “digital swag” to help promote campus events and campaigns.
If you create pages or accounts to conduct University business as an individual (i.e. as an instructor or marketing professional), and not as a representation of a department or organization, continue to use your own name and profile photograph as the avatar. Please select a professional image for this purpose and be sure to identify yourself as a University employee or official student group representative in the biography/information section of the site.
POSTING & REMOVING CONTENT:
Page administrators should abide by the following social media etiquette when posting on behalf of a University entity:
Be responsive: Respond to questions and concerns brought to your attention in a timely manner. If you do not know the answer, be upfront about that and try to provide information that can help point the user in the right direction. If you need additional time to find the appropriate response, you may send an initial response indicating that you are looking into it and will respond with more information when you know it.
When you are deciding how to handle comments on your site, consider that most people who maintain social media sites welcome comments because they build credibility and community. However, you may enable platform features such as spam and profanity filters that automatically screen out inappropriate content.
Be accurate, fair, and respect copyright and intellectual property: Take the time to ensure that you have all the facts before you post. Correct any errors in a timely and public manner. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible. If you do not own copyright to content created or written by others, you must either have the copyright owner’s permission, such as in the republication of user generated content, or you must come within the “fair use” exception. To determine whether you fall within the fair use exception you must conduct a fair use analysis. See The University Policy Manual – Copyright Compliance for Users of UNCG Technology for more information on copyright and intellectual property.
Be respectful and insightful: It’s okay to disagree, but refrain from using this space to attack others’ ideas. When you join an online conversation, make sure that you are contributing valuable insights. Don’t post self-promotional material unless you are absolutely sure that it will be of interest to the rest of the community.
Be honest and use discretion: Never pretend to be someone else and post about UNCG. And don’t rely on privacy settings to safeguard your content. These tools are meant for sharing and, therefore, tend to default to open privacy settings. Furthermore, settings and privileges are subject to change. Search engines can turn up posts years after the publication date. Comments that were visible only to a select group of friends can be forwarded or copied and archival systems are in place to store posts long after they are top-of-site and therefore top-of-mind. Some programs even store posts that have been deleted. Before you post anything, decide if it’s something that you will be proud to be associated with down the road.
Be aware of liability: You are legally liable for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be proprietary, copyrighted, defamatory, libelous or obscene (as defined by the courts). Employers are increasingly conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending offers. Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you. Be mindful that inappropriate social media usage can be grounds for disciplinary action for yourself and your student organization.
Abide by University policies: When you create, administer or interact with a UNCG social media, you are subject to the University’s Acceptable Use of Computing and Electronic Resources Policy and all other applicable University policies. Page administrators and content creators also must follow the University’s photo release process. You can find a full list of applicable policies at the end of this document.
Violation of law, University policy and/or improperly disclosing another person’s information in connection with use of social media can have serious ramifications, so please be aware of the potential consequences before you post.
Some potential consequences include: defamation lawsuit; copyright, patent or trademark infringement claims; privacy or human rights complaint; workplace grievance; criminal charges, especially with respect to obscene or hate materials; damage to the University’s reputation and business interests; campus discipline, up to and including expulsion (students); work-related discipline, up to and including termination (employees) and exclusion from University social media.
Maintain confidentiality: Protect confidential and proprietary information by refraining from posting it. Make wise decisions about what content is acceptable to post. Account managers must also abide by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) if it applies. FERPA is the federal law that protects the privacy of student education records such as grades, transcripts and student identification numbers. Faculty should be aware that they may not require a student to post to or interact with a social networking site as a part of an academic assignment. Students should also be made aware that by posting to a social-networking site, they may be waiving their rights under FERPA.
UNCG requires that all official UNCG-sponsored social media pages display the following statement, when possible:
“Notice to Students – By posting information to this site, you may be waiving your rights under the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA). UNCG does not control this site and cannot guarantee your privacy. By proceeding, you are acknowledging receipt of this notice and compliance with its contents. For more information, go to the University Registrar’s Office of FERPA Information Site.
Be aware that all communications may be monitored and be subject to disclosure as public records: All social media posts, comments, tweets and mentions fall under the category of electronic communications monitored and possibly archived by officials of the state and/or UNCG and as such are considered public. There should be no expectation of privacy in any social media communication, whether personal or official. UNCG does not routinely monitor social media sites; however, UNCG reserves the right to access any University social media site to investigate issues that are reported or discovered to enforce applicable federal, state, and local law or University of North Carolina Board Governors, or UNCG policies. Each UNCG-sanctioned social media profile or page should, when possible, post a statement to inform readers that postings and other content are potentially monitored and subject to disclosure to state and UNCG officials and/or the public:
Representatives of North Carolina state government communicate via this website. Consequently, any communication via this site (whether by a state employee or the general public) may be subject to monitoring by officials of the University and/or State and disclosure to third parties.
Removal of certain content from University social media: In addition to whatever sanctions may apply through application of University policies, the University reserves the right to remove, but is not obligated to remove, any postings, comments or other content that it determines to be in violation of any law; that contains unauthorized or inappropriate solicitations (such as spam or phishing attempts) that have nothing to with the content under discussion; or may appear to pose a cyber-security risk; that are factually libelous, obscene or profane; that are considered unlawful harassment or are considered threats, which is defined as statements meant by the speaker to communicate a serious expression of intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals; that serve as an unjustifiable invasion of privacy or confidentiality not involving a matter of public concern; or that substantially disrupts the function of the University.
With the exception of spam, page managers should notify University Communications before they remove other users’ content from their pages. Those who need assistance addressing rude posts, derogatory comments or other urgent matters should contact University Communications for guidance on a response or course of action.
Handling emergencies: During a campus emergency situation in accordance with the Notification Policy, the emergency notification system and the Spartan Alert website will serve as the primary communication tool for general information and updates. Social media outlets such as the UNCG Facebook or Twitter pages will be secondary.
RELEVANT POLICIES AND BEST PRACTICES:
- North Carolina Public Records Act
- Best Practices for Local Government Social Media Usage in North Carolina
- UNCG Campus Photography Guidelines
- Acceptable Use of Computing and Electronic Resources Policy
- Copyright Compliance for Users of UNCG Technology
- FERPA Information Site
- Licensing Policies
- Intercollegiate Athletics Name, Image, and Likeness Interim Guidelines