UTB Social Media Best Practices
Blogs, social networks and Web sites such as Facebook,
Instagram, Twitter and YouTube are exciting new channels for you to share
knowledge, express your creativity and connect with others who share your
interests. The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College
supports your participation in these online communities.
Because social media channels are fairly new to many employees, we’ve assembled
"best practices” from respected online and industry sources to help you
use these forums effectively.
Any one creating or maintaining a presence on
a social media network or website on behalf of any department, office or
individual in direct relation to either UTB or representing UTB as an employee
or official are receive supervisor approval and report their online presence
via email at email@example.com or contact the Office of Marketing and Communication.
The keys to success in social media are being
honest about who you are, being thoughtful before you post, and respecting the
purpose of the community where you are posting.
transparent. Be honest about your identity.
If you are authorized by your supervisor to represent UTB in social media, say
so. If you choose to post about UTB on your personal time, please identify
yourself as a faculty or staff member. Never hide your identity for the purpose
of promoting UTB through social media.
In December 2009, the Federal Trade Commission implemented regulations
requiring bloggers and those who write online reviews to reveal if they have
been compensated in any way—a free copy of a book, dinner, complementary
admission—or have a relationship to a company, product or service they review.
Already a "best practice" for most bloggers, such disclosure is now
A good resource about transparency in online communities is the Blog Council’s
“Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit” at http://blogcouncil.org/disclosure/.
accurate. Make sure that you have all the facts before
you post. It’s better to verify information with a source first than to have to
post a correction or retraction later. Cite and link to your sources whenever
possible; after all, that’s how you build community.
If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly. This will earn you
respect in the online community.
respectful. You are more likely to achieve your goals or
sway others to your beliefs if you are constructive and respectful while
discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person.
a valued member. If you join a social network
like a Facebook group or comment on someone’s blog, make sure you are
contributing valuable insights. Don’t post information about topics like UTB events
or a book you’ve authored unless you are sure it will be of interest to
readers. Self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being
banned from Web sites or groups.
your audiences. Social media often span
traditional boundaries between professional and personal relationships. Use
privacy settings to restrict personal information on otherwise public sites.
Choose profile photos and avatars carefully. Be thoughtful about the type of
photos you upload.
before you post. There’s no such thing as a
“private” social media site. Search engines can turn up posts years after the
publication date. Comments can be forwarded or copied. Archival systems save
information even if you delete a post. If you feel angry or passionate about a
subject, it’s wise to delay posting until you are calm and clear-headed.
confidentiality. Do not post confidential or
proprietary information about UTB, its students, its alumni or your fellow
employees. Use good ethical judgment and follow university policies and federal
requirements, such as FERPA.
If you discuss a situation involving individuals on a social media site, be
sure that they cannot be identified. As a guideline, don’t post anything that
you would not present at a conference or say in a meeting.
university time and property. As stated in
the Computer Use Resources Policy, university computers and your work time are to be used for
university-related business. It’s appropriate to post at work if your comments
are directly related to accomplishing work goals, such as seeking sources for
information or working with others to resolve a problem. You should maintain your
personal sites on your own time using non-UTB computers.
If you post on behalf of UTB
Be transparent. If you participate in or maintain a social media site on
behalf of the university, clearly state your role and goals. Discuss with your
supervisor when you are empowered to respond directly to users and when you may
Be connected. If you have been authorized by your supervisor to create
an official UTB social media site or a video for posting in locations such as
YouTube, please contact the Office of Creative Services for an approved logo
and other images and to ensure coordination with other sites and content.
Be respectful. As a UTB employee, you understand the university’s
commitment to respect for the dignity of others and to the civil and thoughtful
discussion of opposing ideas. Some online communities can be volatile, tempting
users to behave in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. Your reputation, and UTB’s,
are best served when you remain above the fray.
Should you find yourself in any online dispute, contact the
Office of News and Information at 956-882-8231 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They are
the designated office to handle any and all disputes on behalf of the
Be thoughtful. If you have any questions about whether it is appropriate
to write about certain kinds of material in your role as a UTB employee, ask
your supervisor before you post.
Know the rules. Become familiar with the terms of service and policies
of sites and networks in which you participate. Pay attention to updates. If
the legal language is hard to follow, follow a respected blogger or two who
discuss service changes in their posts.
Keep your personal views separate. Uphold the university’s mission and
values in your activities. Don’t include political comments or comments on
social issues except in support of positions UTB has already taken. This
includes changes to your photo or avatar in relation to political or social
comments. Most people who maintain social media sites
welcome comments—it builds credibility and community. However, you can set your
site so that you can review and approve comments before they appear. This
allows you to respond in a timely way to comments. It also allows you to delete
spam comments and to block any individuals who repeatedly post offensive or
You are welcome to link from your social media site
Types of Facebook pages
A group page promotes interaction based
on common interests rather than personal relationships. Membership for group
pages can range from five or so members to around 100. An example of a UTB and TSC
group page is the 21st
Century University Commission page.
A personal or “person” page is an
individual page used to build personal relationships with "friends"
and family members who ask to join your page or whom you invite to become your
"friend." You can set your page for everyone to see, or only allow
friends you have "confirmed" to see your content. Some people use
their Facebook page to network with colleagues as well, though LinkedIn is
often preferred for making professional connections. An example of a UTB person
page is the Graduation Coach.
Facebook Best Practices
Present clearly about what your objectives
are and who your audience is for your particular Facebook page.
Keep content fresh and dynamic to keep people
coming back to your site. Post updates several times a week, but you don't need
to overdo it. Although Twitter users often post throughout the day, Facebook
users might only post several times a week.
Keep the social networking aspects of
Facebook by allowing people to communicate with each other and by allowing
opportunities for people to write on the wall and post photos, videos, and
links. You can ask questions in your updates; ask for photos and more to create
Be Mindful. Monitor your site and delete
profanity or rude comments. At the same time, respond to any negative or inaccurate
comments about UTB and TSC by providing accurate information.
UTB Official Facebook Page Practices and Comments Guidelines
The University of Texas at Brownsville
encourages interaction from Facebook users but is not responsible for comments
or wall postings made by visitors to the page. Comments posted also do not in
any way reflect the opinions or policies of the university.
UTB asks that people making comments on the page show respect for their fellow
users by ensuring the discussion remains civil, especially since Facebook
allows individuals 13 and over to join. Comments are also subject to Facebook’s
Remember that your name and photo will be seen next to your comment, visible to
the tens of thousands of visitors to the page.
We reserve the right, but assume no obligation, to remove comments that are
racist, sexist, abusive, profane, violent, obscene, spam, that advocate illegal
activity, contain falsehoods or are wildly off-topic, or that libel, incite,
threaten or make ad hominem attacks on UTB students, employees, guests or other
individuals. We also do not permit messages selling products or promoting
commercial or other ventures.
Facebook encourages all users to utilize the “Report” links when they find
If you have questions about the UTB Facebook Page, please email email@example.com
Twitter Best Practices
Only post tweets that are directly tied to
your mission (for example, Media Relations tweets are about UTB in the news;
athletics tweets are about sporting events.) Some campus personalities like the
provost have an individual site that also represents the university.
Write text specifically geared to the
abbreviated format of Twitter, rather than cutting and pasting existing text.
Use of common abbreviations and texting
language is okay. Spice up your Tweets with conversational and playful
language, when appropriate.
Try to update your page at least one per day
and up to five times a day, spacing Tweets evenly rather than sending them en
masse. On slow days, try posting a question (e.g. "What's your favorite
spot on campus?") or a photo you've taken. If you really have nothing to
say, don't tweet.
Try to mix your types of Tweets. For example,
post some updates about what's new in your department; use photos and videos
when appropriate; try starting a conversation with a user. Try to reach
followers with broad interests.
Use links freely to convey your message
Respond visibly to any follower who asks a
question: other people may have the same question.
Delete profanity or other language deemed
inappropriate in direct messages or before re-Tweeting.
YouTube Best Practices
To avoid copyright issues, submit only original
Make sure students are not on FERPA no-release list. If so, have they signed a
waiver form approved by the university attorney's office?
For your department/college/office channel, use an official UTB background design.
Plan on two versions of your video, one with closed captioning. Google provides
free software for this:
Don't allow comments or ratings unless you monitor them full time. Allow video
responses with the caveat that you approve them before they post.
It takes a tremendous time commitment to monitor and approve comments, so you
may want to allow comments or ratings on your entire channel, but not for
You may want to allow comments/ratings on
your entire channel, but not allow comments/ratings on individual videos --
this is the recommendation from the IT staff because of the tremendous time
commitment it would take to monitor and approve comments.
Keep videos as short as possible while still
accomplishing your goals.
Seek out student-generated content.
Use as many keyword tags as are appropriate, and always include UTB and The
University of Texas at Brownsville.
UTB and TSC Flickr and Instagram Best Practices
By adding your photos to the pool, you authorize
The University of Texas at Brownsville to permit the use and display of said
photographs on this UTB Flickr site and any UTB Flickr related projects.
am is a creative, artsy way to share
quick photos of events and activities through a mobile phone or tablet. Using
hastags on Instagram is a great way to find followers and share university
Notice! All images are copyright of their
respective photographer. The use of images contained within this site and other
UTB Flickr projects is not permitted without the express permission of the
photographer. Individuals who submit photos to UTB Flickr are officially
stating they have sole consent to share an image.
LinkedIn Best Practices
The main purpose of creating a presence on
LinkedIn is to help foster professional communication between UTB and their
targeted audience groups.
Content should be relevant to its perspective
audience and include professional or career related activities and information.
UTB LinkedIn site is maintained by The Office of Marketing and
Communication. LinkedIn Manager(s) must act as moderators for these pages and
monitor them daily.
LinkedIn main pages should have fresh content
posted at least once a week.
It will be the LinkedIn Manager’s
responsibility to take on the role of moderator or owner, or delegate this
responsibility to a person of their choice. The Manager should respond to
questions and requests posted to the group.
The LinkedIn Manager’s role is not only to
moderate, but to assist in making sure the relevant information on LinkedIn is
included on the official UTB website and
When posting information about an event,
include a link to the official group page that is hosting the event.