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Guidelines for Social Media Managers

Bentley University has official university accounts on social media in order to:

  • Support the academic mission of teaching, research and scholarship
  • Support internal communication (e.g., with the on campus community)
  • Build community and promote participation in clubs, organizations, activities and university causes
  • Encourage earned media for the university
  • Support a lifetime connection with alumni
  • Recruit prospective students
  • Reinforce positive messaging about the value of Bentley as a university, employer and business partner in other media

Please Note: Gross and/or ongoing failure to follow these guidelines may result in removal of social media management duties and access to institutional accounts. Sanctions of individuals and organizations or clubs involved, and, in the case of staff, appropriate remedies as determined by supervisors and HR, may also be applied.

If you are a Bentley social media representative and you have a suggestion or question, please email the Bentley University Social Media Manager.

Speak for yourself and be transparent

No social media channel administrator should speak on behalf of Bentley University administration on university-wide issues without prior authorization, nor should an employee of one Bentley department (or member/representative of one organization) speak "for" another.

Social media administrators should not use social media channels to express personal opinions represented as the University’s, department’s or organization’s views.

In addition, social media managers should be forthcoming about their affiliation with the University and its organizations when engaging in any ongoing discussions about Bentley on social media platforms, even on their personal accounts.

Failure to disclose one’s relationship to Bentley could quickly create the impression that the school “plants” people to speak on its behalf in social media forums.

Conversely, any constructive critiques you may have might be dismissed as axe-grinding or settling scores if your affiliation isn’t made clear up front.

Provide credit and respect copyright

Attribute all content not original to your department or organization and link to the originator's pages or sites when possible.

Keep in mind, though, that attributing or providing links does not necessarily prevent you from violating copyright law, which could place you, your organization, and the University at legal risk.

For more information on copyright, please consult Bentley University Library’s extensive Copyright Information and Guidelines resource guide.

Share information carefully

Respect operational confidentiality, and safeguard privacy, especially student privacy, as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Do not release confidential or proprietary information related to Bentley University, 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 with your supervisor and the News and Communications Office first.

In Emergencies

In the event of the activation of Bentley's Emergency Response Team and Emergency Alert System, the only official communications from the university will be made through the following tools, in this sequence, as deemed necessary by the ERT:

1) The Emergency Notification System (If activated, this system can send voicemail messages, email messages, and text messages; students are required to update their contact information for this system each semester.)

2) www.bentley.edu/emergency

3) the university's official Twitter and Facebook accounts.

No one other than the members of the ERT, the News and Communications office, or senior university officials is authorized to communicate emergency information to the Bentley community, including on social media channels. Social media managers who wish to register with Bentley and be listed on the Social Media Directory agree to take their channels "dark" during designated emergencies except to repost exactly what is posted on the main university accounts. (If you are a social media manager and you use applications that allow you and/or your designates to schedule posts to your channels in advance, you must cancel these pre-scheduled posts, as well, during emergencies.)

Pay special attention to protecting minors

Minors must be protected in Bentley’s social media use. You should never tag or otherwise disclose the full name or other personally-identifying details of those under age 18 in any of your social media posts or discussions.

Exercise caution in the posting, tagging, or disclosure of information about minors’ parents/guardians, siblings, schools, groups, or tutors that could easily lead to the minors’ individual identification, as well.

On-campus activities and eventsAttending events on campus conveys consent to have one’s likeness used in Bentley’s social media and other communications, and this extends to minors who are on campus either accompanying their parents or guardians, or who are on campus under other adult supervision, with their parents or guardians’ presumed approval.

It is generally fine to use images of minors from these events (e.g. Commencement, Parents’ Weekend) in your social media, provided you don’t tag or identify the minors, as discussed above.

Off-campus activities and eventsEvents taking place off-campus, including community outreach, service-learning, and tutoring/mentorship events, do not convey consent for the use of one’s likeness, and you must obtain prior written consent from parents/guardians if you wish to use pictures or video that will show minors.

Again, you should not identify these minors in an individual way, even with consent to use their image in general.

Generic posts like “The Bentley Service-Learning team was thrilled to work with the great kids at the Waltham Boys and Girls Club this Saturday,” accompanying a picture or video (provided you have obtained consent for those) would be fine.

On some occasions, with specific prior written parental/guardian consent, it is acceptable to use minors’ first names only, provided that information can’t be combined with other identifying information to place the child at risk.

Example: “Dan, a junior high school student in Waltham, got some batting tips from members of the Bentley Men’s baseball team, as see in this photo.” is fine, provided prior written consent for use of Dan’s first name and image has been obtained.

However, “Dan S., a 7th grader at JFK Memorial Middle School in Waltham, shown here with his teacher John Smith, got some batting tips….” would be providing too much information about the minor in a social media context.

Posting links to stories that disclose information on minors:

It is fine to post a link to a media story, including those written by Bentley’s authorized media representatives and appearing on a Bentley webpage, in which full details about minors are disclosed, as in those cases a thorough consent-gathering process has taken place.  When posting links to stories from outside sources, again, use caution and check with your supervisor if you feel the story provides information that could place minors at risk and/or place Bentley University at risk for being seen to do so.

When in doubt: don’t post.

Keep your accounts and their information secure.

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 channel, limit access to it to managers and supervisors only, and change it regularly. Be especially sure to change passwords when students or staff depart.

If you will have more than one staff member or student managing or monitoring your channel or channels, consider using a social media account management tool such as HootSuite, TweetDeck, or Buffer, which can allow you to set various levels of access and administration.

More information on safeguarding privacy and information security at Bentley is available here.

Use the Bentley brand correctly

All policies, procedures, and guidelines regarding University trademarks, names, and symbols apply to social networking sites.

The Marketing & Communications team can offer guidance about how properly to use names, logos, etc., to resolve branding and template challenges on various social media platforms

Tips for Social Media Managers

Develop your social media strategy

Your social media presence should be part of a broader communications strategy, which itself should support your programmatic or operational goals.

Resist the urge to jump on a social media platform simply because it seems like everyone else is. Social media requires consistent attention and maintenance, so it's vital to identify your goals and be selective about which platforms you're going to use before getting started.

Begin with these strategy questions:

  • What do you hope to achieve?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What channels or platforms would reach them most effectively?
  • Do you have the resources and commitment to run these channels well?
  • Are other related departments or organizations already doing something similar?
  • Could you provide content to the University’s main social channels and get your message out that way?

You should get started on social media—or reinvigorate your presence there on existing accounts—only after you’ve had the discussions prompted by these questions. Don’t be afraid to decide you don’t need to be on any particular social media platform if that’s where this process leads you: it’s far better to shut down an account that’s being run poorly than to keep it limping along for no purpose or effect.

If you/your organization wishes, you may request a Social Media Audit from the Social Media Manager.

Listen often

Monitor the conversation on your channels—and beyond—by following key “influencers” in your field on their social media accounts—to learn about your audience's likes, dislikes, attitudes, social media behavior, etc.

Never "post and run"—leaving the ensuing conversation unattended. Regularly check your channels for:

  • Comments or inquiries that require a response*;
  • Posts from others that could be shared;
  • Objectionable posts, spam or advertisements that should be removed promptly;
  • Fans or followers who should be blocked (e.g., for spam, or violation of site rules, or violations of the Bentley Beliefs).

*Note that not all responses need to be public—and some shouldn’t be. Sometimes you may need to respond in private (e.g. via an email or a direct message), but you should always try to let the community watching the conversation see that you have taken steps to respond in some way.

Think, then think again, then post

How are others likely to react to the post? Remember that "delete" only goes so far on the Internet, so use good judgment before each post.

Content can go viral (be widely shared, and even pick up media attention) very quickly, so if you’re in doubt about whether it’s appropriate for your mission and your audiences, skip it.

Ask yourself: Would I want to see this shared across the Web and in other media and attributed to me, or to my department or organization, or to Bentley?

If your content touches on often-controversial topics (e.g., politics), it can provoke a heated discussion. Are you prepared to monitor and respond to that?

Remember that your followers and fans on social media, your correspondent community, may have varying reactions to a post that appears to be completely positive.

  • Example: A book award may seem like perfect content for a post, but if the book's premise deals with a hot-button issue, it is possible that followers who hold a differing point of view will respond, sometimes forcefully.
  • Example: A post about a change to an organization's operating policies, it’s brand identity, its traditions, or even its 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 an existing grievance. If a faculty member in your department wins an award for excellence, a correspondent may use it to respond with complaints about course availability or tuition.

Even seemingly benign topics can draw negative responses. The post "Spring flowers on campus are the best!" will draw likes from those who agree and also negative comments from those who prefer fall foliage or who have spring allergies. This basic dynamic of social media can create lively, spirited discussions that make your channel a vibrant one—and it can also go in the other direction unexpectedly.

Keep in mind the self-selecting phenomenon of online commentary: those with the strongest emotional responses (positive or negative) are most likely to post a comment, and negative emotions tend to run even hotter, faster, and more loudly online.

None of this means you need to be timid or use the most banal content. Rather, it means posting content should be a considered, deliberate activity, in line with your social media and programmatic strategies and objectives.

Above all, remember that social media managers must be able to monitor, respond to, and moderate discussions as needed.

Operational Tips:

  • Contact your supervisor when discussions involve sensitive subjects
  • Obtain appropriate written permission from the copyright holder before publishing, transmitting, or storing copyrighted or intellectual property content
  • Quickly recall a post or respond quickly when asked for correction when you make a mistake
  • Be respectful of comments received, even when they’re critical, as long as they are respectful and on-point. Read and consider them carefully before posting your responses
  • At the same time, don’t get drawn into lengthy debates on any topic. Once you’ve stated your position, made a clarification or correction, or offered an attempt at a helpful response, you don’t need to keep covering the same ground or go into ever-deeper levels of detail in a comment threat. Suggest to your correspondent(s) that email and/or phone or in-person conversations (with you or other appropriate staff at Bentley) would be more appropriate
  • Use social media channels responsibly; in the eyes of the public at large you are representing Bentley University, or a part of it, in a highly visible and potentially lasting way
  • Moderate your account to make sure nothing is posted by others that violates confidentiality, policies, or laws

Be aware that:

  • Everything online has the potential to become widely spread throughout the public.
  • All posted content is subject to review by Bentley University.

It’s not all about you. Participate in ways that bring value to your online community.

Keep your channel fresh, but don’t post so frequently that your content doesn’t have time to breathe and find an audience, or, worse, becomes a nuisance to your followers. 

On the other side of the equation, having a channel that goes dormant for long periods of time, especially without context (e.g. a semester break, holiday, or some major event garnering widespread attention), can be worse than having no channel at all.

Rules of thumb for frequency of posts vary among the main social media channels and their practitioners, and one size does not fit all.

Remember that you don’t need to be on all channels, or on any one set of them in particular, and your honest assessment of your carrying capacity for any given channel should be part of your decision whether to get involved.

Find out what channels your audience is using, see what they respond to, and let the quality and strategic purpose of the content you've got on hand to share be the first factors determining what and how often you post.

That said, some generally accepted frequency guidelines for some of the major platforms are:

Facebook Pages: Typically post at least once every two to three days, but no more than two to three posts per day. Keep in mind that visual posts (photos, links that provide preview photos, videos) tend to get seen and shared by more of your followers. Studies suggest that the college-age population and prospective college students are spending less and less time actively engaging with Facebook posts, so you may find this platform is better used to help you reach older, and more general, audiences.

Twitter accounts: Aim for a minimum of one to three interactions (these can include replies, Re-Tweets, following your new Followers, and marking others’ Tweets as Favorites) per day; it’s generally acceptable to Tweet up to 15-20 times per day if you’ve got the content, but be sure to spread out your Tweets and allow time for conversations to develop. (Nobody likes a broadcaster who doesn’t listen and respond.) 

Photo-sharing/image-sharing accounts (e.g. Instagram, Pinterest): Post fresh content at least once every week, more often if you’re running a “campaign” around a particular theme. As with Twitter, Instagram use is surging among teens and college students; Pinterest remains very popular with adult women.

The “rules” of how often to post creative content to platforms like YouTube, Tumblr, Vine, Pheed, Snapchat, and others tend to be driven by how much compelling content you have to offer to your followers there, and how often you are able to create it.

While it’s relatively easy to post your content—or at least links to content you want to share—on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Instagram on a daily or almost daily basis, creating videos, engaging blog posts, and short vids should and does take longer. How often you should post isn’t likely to be an issue on these platforms; how often youcan, with new content, is going to drive that frequency.

As with all accounts, check your metrics to see what’s working, both in terms of type and frequency, and be willing to adjust accordingly.

Be wary of pre-scheduling posts (via social media management tools such as HootSuite) too far in advance or at times when no one would have access to your account to remove or modify them, as the context around them can change rapidly.

Note that in order to be listed in the Bentley Social Media Directory you must have plans in place to cancel scheduled posts should they become problematic, and that you agree to take your channels "dark" during declared emergencies.

Gathering content

Good sources of content include:

  • 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 social media accounts on campus;
  • Posts of interest from related sites off campus;
  • Comments on or shares of users' posts;
  • Campus-related photos or videos (if you’re not the creator, be sure to view them in their entirety before posting);
  • Links to major positive media coverage of your department, club, office, organization, or the University as a whole.

Be social

Engagement is more effective than simply pushing out information. Ways to engage an audience include:

  • 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.

Be a good host

The decision to create a channel that includes conversation should be made with the understanding that members of your audience may have differing, sometimes opposing, views.

A site that deletes every negative post is not a social site, nor is one that allows a preponderance of negative commentary, which will alienate most users.

Establish ground rules, such as the community guidelines for Bentley’s official Facebook page, for courteous and appropriate behavior on the page and abide by them. These platform-specific community guidelines can act as short-hand descriptions of the Bentley BeliefsBentley’s Computing and Network Policy, and the Bentley University Social Media Community Guidelines; you should also feel free to link to these resources.

If a post discusses a problem or a disappointment in a respectful and constructive way, and you can help, offer to do so. Do be wary of setting up the expectation that you will always be able to respond, however. Don’t reward bad behavior by responding to posts that are excessively negative or disrespectful.

Be accurate

Don't guess or speculate about the answer to university-related questions or share information related to Bentley from non-verified sources; if it is inaccurate, you risk starting or giving credence to a rumor.

If it's a question you can’t answer right away, 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 as needed.

Proofread posts to avoid typos and errors, and correct them graciously when they’re pointed out. (Note that not all social channels allow you to correct or edit all types of posts; if the error is serious, you may have to delete the content, keeping in mind that it may have already been seen and shared by many.)

As a best practice, generally speaking, don’t “tag” individual students or colleagues in photos or comments you post without getting their permission in advance; instead, invite and allow them to tag themselves in photos.

Use good judgment about tagging students and colleagues in your personal use of social media, as well.

The guidelines and tips on these pages have been adapted in part from similar guidelines developed by Aquinas College, Boston College, Colorado State University, Hamilton College, Ithaca College, Marquette University, NYU, Simmons College, Washington University in St. Louis, and Williams College.