Social Media Guidelines
Social media, in its many forms, is increasingly becoming a key component in how universities communicate, collaborate, share knowledge, and build relationships with prospects, current students, and alumni. The following is a set of guidelines and best practices developed to assist University employees in optimizing their social media efforts for and on behalf of the University. Stony Brook employees are subject to these guidelines to the extent they identify themselves as a Stony Brook employee (other than as an incidental mention of place of employment in a personal blog on topics unrelated to Stony Brook). If you have suggestions or comments about these procedures, please contact Stefan Hyman in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
Authorized Stony Brook Social Media Sites
Authorized sites – official online publications of University departments, programs, and centers – are eligible to be listed on the University’s Connect page, a directory of social media sites. To obtain authorization, a responsible department head must email the Director of University Web Content, Jacob Levich, identifying the department, center, or program be listed and the URL of the social media site(s). The department head need not directly manage the site but is ultimately responsible for the site’s content and adherence to applicable law, policy, and University guidelines.
Guidelines and tips
- Before getting involved with social media, consider your objectives and your target audience. Consider whether a social medium is the right conduit to meet these goals. Finally, develop a strategy for how you’ll use your chosen medium.
- Each medium carries its own set of customs and etiquettes, and a unique lexicon. Take time to study the channel you’ll be working with prior to posting content to avoid being considered inauthentic and uneducated by the online community. Keep in mind that you are a University representative and will be perceived as such.
- Most social media require significant supervision and time commitments. Be prompt in responding to questions and feedback, and do your best to keep the flows of information and conversation continuously active.
- Make sure it is clear to your community who you are and what your role is as a University employee. Authenticity is a fundamental component of any social media environment.
- Make sure the content you post is appropriate for your audience and what you want to achieve. Be factual, provide sources or links for claims you make, fix errors quickly, and don’t spam.
- You must keep your business / professional use of social media completely separate from your personal use. Use of University resources (time, equipment, networks) for personal purposes violates both State law and University policy. Accordingly, your use of social media as a University representative may not link to or reference content in your personal profile/account.
- Be tolerant of others’ opinions, avoid antagonizing anyone, and take the high road when provoked. Remember, you are a member of the Stony Brook community, and so represent not only your department but also the University itself.
- Part of what makes social media such a powerful tool is its ability to produce a pleasant environment for open dialogue. Therefore censoring dialogue is not common. However, circumstances will arise when, as a forum host, you must initiate action to remove user-generated content. At the outset, articulate a clear behavioral policy for your audience. Consider how your failure to remove discriminatory or defamatory content would be perceived by the poster, your forum audience and the general public.
- Don’t overreact to the appearance of negative content, but do address it. Keep in mind that removing a negative post may put an idea out of sight, but discussing and deconstructing it has the power to change minds.
- Be careful not violate any University, state or federal privacy laws, including FERPA. Do your best to keep your audience from revealing private data on your channel as well.
- Use Stony Brook logos only if authorized by the University as per policies set by the Office of Communications.
- Make sure you have permission to deploy any media you post not already in the public domain.
For tips regarding safety and protecting your identity on social media platforms, visit staysafeonline.org.
Social media offers prospects, current students and alumni many opportunities to get involved with our campus community and to share knowledge. Online communities, however, sometimes give us a false sense of security. All users of our social media channels should abide by the following guidelines:
- Do not post personal information, such as your phone number, address, social security number, class schedule or anything else you wouldn’t want complete strangers viewing. Use privacy settings to control who can see your profile/posts.
- Always be respectful in the content you add to a discussion. Be tolerant of others’ opinions, avoid antagonizing anyone, and take the high road when provoked. Remember that anything you post may be viewed by your parents, teachers, or future employers. Use good judgment and think before you post.
- Respect copyright and fair use laws. Don’t post anything copyrighted or pictures that include other people (even your friends) without their permission.
- Stony Brook University administrators do not search for students or monitor social media pages not affiliated with the University. However, we do reserve the right to take action when content that violates University policies or laws is brought to our attention.
- Be honest, transparent, creative, and, most of all, have fun.
- Our social media efforts encourage active discussion and sharing of information and thoughts.
- We are not responsible for comments or wall postings made by visitors. Comments posted also do not in any way reflect the opinions or policies of Stony Brook University.
- We reserve the right 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 Stony Brook students, employees, guests or other individuals. We also do not permit messages selling products or promoting commercial, political or other ventures.
- In addition, election campaign materials or postings otherwise deemed inappropriate will be deleted by the page administrators.
We would like to acknowledge the following Universities for their assistance in developing these guidelines: University of New Hampshire, West Virginia University, Grand Valley State University, and DePaul University.