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Web Committee

The University of Montana

Social Media Guidelines

The University Web Committee frequently gets questions regarding the usage of social media avenues for University business. Due to the frequent change of the social media field, a University policy is not entirely appropriate; therefore, we are publishing a set of guidelines to help units work through the issues raised by the use of social media.

Existing Policy/Resources

Guidelines and Recommendations

  • Monitor your social network accounts each business day
  • Be familiar with the Terms of Service for any third party website you use
  • Do not publish confidential, proprietary, or legally protected information
  • Protect copyright
  • Have a single person tasked with monitoring all social networks for your unit
  • Save passwords in a location that would prevent them from being lost, even in the event of personnel turnover
  • Do not collect personal information without consulting the IRB
  • Individual units should not construe their social media account as representing the University as a whole
  • When possible, link to content on the UM website, rather than on a third party
  • Avoid commentary about other schools
  • Keep away from controversial topics
  • Do not “tag” users without their consent
  • Remember that social media can serve equally well as a tool for listening, rather than speaking
  • Have you staff attend the IT ShortCourse on Social Media
  • Have original content
  • Keep your social network community active, or shut it down

Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to approve people before they join? (open vs closed network)

No, you do not need to approve people before they join your group on a social network unless you choose to make it a closed group.

What do we do if there are inappropriate posts? Should we moderate them?

It is recommended that you state what is acceptable content and that anything not conforming will be removed because the site is intended solely for persons affiliated with your unit to exchange unit-related information.

How often do we need to check to make sure there are not inappropriate posts?

We recommend that you check each business day.

Can anyone post photos, or only Administrators? Should we be "tagging" people in photos?

Individuals who upload photos are at the discretion of the group owner. Keep in mind that only the owner of the photo can authorize uploading. An employee must have the right to do so either as the photo owner or as having received permission. Violation of this requirement is a conduct code violation and can subject employees to discipline.

Often, it is impossible to avoid a user being “tagged” by other users in a social network, but we recommend that University employees do not "tag" people in photos without their permission.

Can student workers be our administrators?

Yes, student employees can be administrators. Student employees should have a staff or faculty member who oversees them and who also has access to an administrator account.

Are there any recommendations on how to name our account? Do we need to use the same name on all the different services?

Naming an account is at the discretion of the owner; there are no University-wide account naming standards.

How often do we need to update the content?

There is no perfect formula for posting frequency that applies to every use case. For example,  the UM Public Safety announcement list on Twitter rarely tops 2 tweets per month, but University Relations posts roughly once per day. These frequencies are both appropriate considering the goals they are meeting.

For most units using social networking to build awareness, 3-4 posts per week and no more than 3 per day is an appropriate guideline.

Who can we “friend”? Is there an issue with endorsement?

UM institutionally can “friend”  persons and entities which are either part of the MUS  or other higher education institution sites with common interests (Shakespearean literature  sites by English majors is an example).  Units can state that “friending” is not a UM endorsement of the site or person being “friended.”

What should happen to “dead” groups that haven't been updated in a long time?

If you control the administrative role on an account that is “dead”, closing the group may be a smart move. Outdated content frequently does more harm than good.

What can we do if someone else has started a group for our unit that isn't official?

The course of action that is available to you may depend on the terms of service of the website. If the content of the existing group is appropriate, attempting a consolidation may be your best option. If that is not an option and there is a significant chance that the public may confuse the third party group as an official one, you can try to encourage the other group to change its name, or contact the vendor according to their terms of service.

University Web Committee

Jordan Hess, Chair