Social Media Guidelines

Purpose

This document guides the use of official St. Cloud State social media by staff and students.* ** View the print version (PDF).

Expectations

In general, the laws, ethics and behavior expectations that govern your professional life apply equally when posting content on behalf of the university. Specifically, the Employee Code of Conduct and Student Code of Conduct are in force when social media managers publish on behalf of the university.

The university is responsible for content staff members publish on university social media. Assume all postings are in the public domain and may be re-published and discussed in all forms of media. Personal perspectives are best aired on personal social media sites.

Obligations

  1. Do not post confidential information about St. Cloud State students, employees or alumni. HIPPA, FERPA and NCAA regulations, among others, are in force when managing social media.
  2. Social media managers will not post content or allow others to post content that is offensive, including, but not limited to, content that diminishes others based on race, color, creed, sex, age, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, national origin, mental or physical disability.
  3. Respect the intellectual property rights of others. Using copyrighted material in its entirety, without permission, is a violation of federal law. Having said that, comment and criticism are among the exceptions to federal copyright enshrined in the Fair Use Doctrine.

Restraints

  1. As with all St. Cloud State resources, university social media cannot be used to advance personal views, political agendas, political candidates or political parties.
  2. St. Cloud State social media cannot be used to promote commercial products or services. This prohibition does not include speakers and entertainers hired to present on campus or businesses sponsoring campus activities and events.

Roles

  1. St. Cloud State social media sites typically operate as “limited open forums.” Social media managers should encourage free speech except when that speech violates the Legal Obligations and Restraints sections, above.
  2. Social media managers should not engage in discussions or arguments. The manager’s role is to publish. Commentary and criticism are best left to site visitors. Social media managers may, however, politely correct major errors of fact about university actions, decisions and policies.
  3. Social media managers will obey the terms of service of the social media tools they use.

Best Practices 

  1. Embrace these proven social media approaches: Radio Theory, Narcissism Theory and Stalker Theory.
  2. Post with passion. Routine, boring and bland won’t cut it.
  3. Be precise. Errors of fact, bad grammar and inaccurate spelling reflect poorly on the university. View our Common Mistakes document (PDF).
  4. Publish early and often. A social media site left unattended is worse than no social media site at all.
  5. Engage in campus, local, state, national and global conversations. St. Cloud State students and employees are world citizens.
  6. Shorten URLs with our branded utility at scsu.mn/LinkShorten.
  7. If you are zealous about a particular topic, temper that zeal by having a colleague or supervisor proof your post for accuracy, balance and fairness.
  8. Content that is clearly inappropriate or illegal should be promptly deleted.
  9. Accept appropriate criticism of university decisions, actions and policies. Deleting critical content undermines the legitimacy of a site and sabotages the sense of community that is the hallmark of social media. Personal attacks on members of the university community are not considered appropriate criticism.
  10. Monitor comments. Social media managers are responsible for all postings, including those made by visitors.

* Student conduct on personal social media sites is guided by the Student Code of Conduct. Among other things, the code of conduct reiterates a student’s rights to freedom of inquiry, speech and assembly and responsibility to recognize that one’s choices and actions reflect upon self and the University community. 

** See Social Media Strategy @ SCSU (PDF) for information about mission, goals, objectives and measurement of St. Cloud State social media.

Updated 4.24.14