Guidelines for Social Media Managers
The following guidelines for administrators who represent Boston College through social media were developed by the Office of News & Public Affairs, which oversees the University's official presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram, and chairs BC's Social Media Council.
The guidelines provide tips for creating successful social media channels and for representing Boston College in an appropriate, authentic, transparent and secure way. They also include cautions about potential pitfalls.
This page is an ongoing project; guidelines will be revised or updated as new social media platforms emerge, best practices evolve, or new concerns arise.
If you are a BC social media manager and you have a suggestion or question, please email email@example.com
Use social media strategically.
- What do you hope to achieve?
- Who is your audience?
- What channels would reach them most effectively?
- Do you have the resources and commitment to run these channels well?
- Are other related departments already doing something similar?
- Do you need multiple channels? Would fewer, stronger channels be better?
- Comments or inquiries that require a response;
- Posts that could be shared;
- Objectionable posts, spam or advertisements that should be removed promptly;
- Fans or followers that should be blocked (e.g., for spam or violation of site rules).
Think before you post.
- Things can go viral very quickly, so if it's questionable (ask yourself: Would I want to see this shared across the Web attributed to my channel?), skip it.
- If it touches on a controversial topic (e.g., politics), it can result in a heated discussion. Are you prepared for that?
Remember that audience members may have varying reactions to a post that appears to be completely positive.
Example: An award for a book may seem to be a perfect post, but if the book's premise deals with a hot-button issue, it is possible that audience members who hold a differing point of view will respond, sometimes forcefully, despite the fact that the author of the book is affiliated with the organization of which they are a fan or follower.
Example: A post about a positive change to an organization's operating policy or physical plant may draw cheers – or boos from those who prefer it to stay the same.
Example: Some audience members will use any post they can to bring the topic back to a grievance. If a city wins an award for transportation, the audience members may use it to respond with complaints about taxes or schools.
Example: Even seemingly benign topics can draw negative responses. The post "apples are the best" will draw a thumbs up from those who agree and thumbs down from those who prefer oranges. This can make for a lively, spirited discussion that makes your channel a vibrant one — or it can unexpectedly turn nasty.
This doesn't mean that no news or topic that might draw potential disagreement can be posted. Rather, it means posting should be a considered activity, and social media administrators should be aware that monitoring and moderating a discussion may be needed.
Bring value to the discussion.
- Helpful hints, information or reminders;
- Links to pertinent or interesting campus sites;
- Current or historical facts and tidbits related to your area;
- Awards and achievements;
- Congratulations and other good wishes;
- Posts from other SM sites on campus;
- Posts of interest from related sites off campus;
- Comments on or shares of users' posts;
- Campus-related photos.
- Asking questions;
- Commenting on the information you're posting;
- Soliciting photos or feedback (if appropriate);
- Retweeting or commenting on other posts;
- Developing a personality; avoiding robotic posts.
Understand what 'social' means.
- If a comment is incorrect, set the record straight.
- If a post expresses a problem or a disappointment, and you can help, offer to do so.
- If the comment is opinion, but is not in violation of page guidelines, let it stand.
Don't overdo it.
- If it's a question, either determine and relay the correct answer or refer the questioner to the appropriate website or department.
- If someone posts something inaccurate to your site, correct it politely or remove it.
- Proofread posts to avoid typos and errors.
- Social media administrators should not use University channels to express personal opinions represented as University, departmental or organizational views.
- Attribute any post that does not contain content original to your department and that does not link back to the originator's site (e.g., include photo credits).
Respect confidentiality; safeguard privacy.
- Do not release confidential or proprietary information related to Boston College, its staff, students, alumni or any member of the University community.
- Do not allow fans or followers to reveal their private information during an exchange on an open channel. Take it offline if necessary.
- Do not any release any campus news or information prematurely. If you're not sure, check first.
- Cybercrime is real. Reset the default privacy settings on social accounts to control who can see what, how information can be searched, and which applications are enabled.
- Create a strong password for each site and change it regularly.
- More information on safeguarding privacy is available from BC Information Technology Services at bc.edu/security.
Be courteous and respectful.
- Monitor comments and respond as quickly as possible.
- Consider creating an FAQ site to which common inquiries may be referred.
- Know when to take the discussion offline. After more than 1-2 exchanges, suggest that the poster contact you or someone else who can help via direct message (on Twitter), phone or e-mail. Again, discourage questioners from posting their private contact information.
Use good judgment.
--Office of News & Public Affairs