One West University Boulevard, Brownsville, Texas 78520 | 956-882-8200

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 socialmedia@utb.edu or contact the Office of Marketing and Communication.
 

General Recommendations

 
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.

Be 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 being enforced.

A good resource about transparency in online communities is the Blog Council’s “Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit” at
http://blogcouncil.org/disclosure/.

Be 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.

Be 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.

Be 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.

Consider 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.

Think 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.

Maintain 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.

Respect 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 need approval.

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 newsandinfo@utb.edu. They are the designated office to handle any and all disputes on behalf of the university.

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 issues.

 
Monitor 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 frivolous comments.

Link back. You are welcome to link from your social media site to utb.edu.
 
Facebook:
 
Types of Facebook pages
 
A fan page is an offical page for a brand on Facebook, often with several thousand fans. Examples include the university’s official fan page for current and future students and others, and the UTB Alumni Association page.
 
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 interaction.
 
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
Terms of Use and Code of Conduct.

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 abusive content.

If you have questions about the UTB Facebook Page, please email
socialmedia@utb.edu
 
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 completely.
 
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.
 
If you have any questions about the UTB Twitter account, email socialmedia@utb.edu.
 
YouTube Best Practices
 
To avoid copyright issues, submit only original content.

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:
http://captiontube.appspot.com/

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 individual videos.
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.
 
Instagr
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 photos.
 
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.
 
For information about the UTB Flickr and Instagram accounts, contact socialmedia@utb.edu.
 
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.
 
The main 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 vice versa.
 
When posting information about an event, include a link to the official group page that is hosting the event.
 
For more information about the UTB  LinkedIn account, email socialmedia@utb.edu.
 
 
 
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