Juniata employees would do well to remember that every interaction made on social media is a representation of the college. Any employee or faculty member using social media under the umbrella of Juniata College should follow these guidelines.
It should be noted that social media is always evolving, with new tools to manage existing social media and new applications popping up regularly. It is best to check back to these guidelines periodically.
What is Social Media?
Social media is any Web-based communication tool that allows us to interact with individuals or groups. This vast sea of information allows Juniatians to share thoughts, videos, photos, articles and other stuff with a variety of audiences: friends, alumni, prospective students, current students, peers, peer institutions and community members. Social media, if done well, can be a crucial part of Juniata’s communication effort and provides the college with the opportunity to communicate Juniata’s successes to audiences that might not otherwise receive them.
To Post or Not to Post
A good rule of thumb for engaging in social media as a representative of Juniata College is do not post anything you would be embarrassed to show your mother or grandmother. Below are a few simple guidelines to follow when you log onto Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.
- Make sure any content -- be it photo, video, comment or post -- is relevant, polite, inoffensive and on-topic. Look at the video or photo to make sure no obscene clothing logos or printing, gestures or signs lurk in the background.
- When commenting on a post, pause to reflect on how your response will be perceived. Avoid personal attacks or sarcasm when responding to a post you disagree with.
- Always check the spelling of your post before posting. Nothing lessens the impact of a comment like poor spelling. In the dawn of an age where many social media sites autocorrect spelling, make sure the correction is correct. Autocorrect programs frequently turn a cogent post into possible gibberish.
- Please comment or post only if you can contribute a distinctive take on Juniata or other topics. Try to contain your comments to areas where you are knowledgeable.
- Respect privacy, particularly as it applies to Juniata students and federal FERPA regulations. For example do not tag students without their permission. Do not use the student’s full name unless the name is mentioned in the material you’re posting.
- If you disagree with a post, replay back politely and make sure your argument is supported by the facts.
Social Media Mores
Don’t Hide: If you are writing about Juniata, always identify yourself using your full name, mention that you are a College employee and make sure it’s understood what you do for the College. If you are posting on an issue that affects you or your job directly, make that clear up front.
Don’t Reveal Too Much: DO NOT post anything that might be confidential or proprietary to the College. Make sure the posts do not violate Juniata’s legal guidelines, privacy guidelines or confidentiality rules. If what you write is true, not subject to interpretation, and can be shown to be true. In almost every case the post should be approved. In any case, never post on any topic related to legal cases, litigation or any person or group we are in litigation with, without documented approval from those authorized to grant such approvals.
Don’t Pontificate: Write in the first person and stick to what you know, particularly in situations that directly affect Juniata College. Make your level of expertise clear to everyone. If you are posting or commenting on a website that is not associated with Juniata, please use some sort of acknowledgement that your opinions are yours alone. Something like: “The comments posted on this site are my own and do not reflect the opinions, policies or plans of Juniata College.”
Be Ethical, Be Legal: You are personally liable for any content you post on any website. Refrain from posting copyrighted material, trademarks, and material that may be damaging to Juniata’s image. Respect confidentiality on all fronts, particularly when posting materials that could be used to identify another Juniatian.
Be Smart, Be Careful: Anything you post, even your personal opinion, can be perceived as representative of Juniata College. An inflammatory post could cause a prospective student to cross Juniata off a list of potential colleges, deter a faculty member seeking collaboration with a Juniata professor or cause a rift with a colleague. It’s best to ensure that any post you write is consistent with Juniata’s reputation and your ethical standards.
Be Nice, Be Real: Address your readers as though you are in the same room. Write in a way that wouldn’t seem out of place in a letter to a friend. Don’t try to sound smart, write as though you were holding a lively conversation. Like a conversation, make sure there’s room for response and debate. Ask for comments. Recommend or add links to other experts or commentators. If you’re asked, allow your writing to be shared or syndicated.
Have Weight: If your post helps build the Juniata brand or encourages the College’s sense of community, then post. Whatever you write should be in some way helpful to Juniata students, parents, employees or community members. Before you press “Post,” make sure the post will help someone better understand the world, or Juniata.
Have a Conscience: Follow the rules laid out in these guidelines and you should never run afoul of a Juniata administrator or faculty member. Representing Juniata on social media is the same thing as being on TV or in the newspaper -- it’s an opportunity to damage or uplift. Treat that opportunity as a gift to raise Juniata’s reputation.
Have a Nose for News: Share things you see and do on campus. If you see a great video by Juniata students, or an eye-catching photo by an employee, ask them if you can post it and promote it on the Web. By the same token, not everything is news. Don’t dump your every waking thought onto the Web. Post items that will drive the global conversation forward.
Have Common Sense: People will post horrifying comments on the Juniata website or on our Facebook page. Do not feel the need to reply or defend the College. In many cases in the past, Juniata alumni have stepped in to defend policies. An online argument favors the most virulent, so these exchanges can quickly spiral into a viral and virtual fistfight. Do not rise to intemperate exchanges. Not replying can be just as powerful as a 1,000 word defense of why Kiss was the best rock band ever. Avoid politics. Avoid religion. Avoid hasty exchanges. Do not run down other colleges and universities and refrain from denigrating Juniata.
A Final Thought: If you make a mistake in your post, whether it’s a citation error or an error of fact, fix it immediately if the site offers editing tools. Or, check and see if you can delete the post and repost an edited version. If no such tools are available, post a correction. Admit your mistake in print. If you are hesitating in posting something, respect that feeling. Chances are if you feel uneasy, the post should not be posted. If you’re unsure of what to do, call the Director of Media Relations to discuss your post. Don’t post unless you are absolutely sure of your message.