Policy Manual

Social Media Policy

Policy Statement:

Georgia College & State University (“Georgia College”, “GC” or “University”) values its reputation and strives to provide information through various communication channels while maintaining its reputation at all times.  

Definitions:

Social Media: Media based on the use of web and mobile technologies that allow for user-generated exchanges of information. Social Media is a term used to describe web-based tools and platforms that enable individuals the ability to share and communicate ideas with each other quickly and publicly. Examples include, but are not limited to, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Google Plus and Tumblr. Social media may also include discussion forums, blogs, Wikis, and video-sharing.

University Social Media Account/Page: Any social media account administered by an official University department or unit on any social network that is endorsed by the department and University Communications and is used in support of the business function or needs of that unit.  (Accounts administered by any other groups or individuals are considered independent accounts, and the University is not responsible for the content shared on those accounts.)

Keywords:

Social Media

Procedures

Freedom of Expression

Branding

Reason for the Policy:

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the use of social media by employees, faculty members, students, volunteers, and contractors of GC, done for the purposes of furthering the Georgia College brand, that is directly or indirectly related to GC or that identifies the user as related to GC, is:

  1. Consistent with GC policies and applicable federal and state laws, including laws regarding personal identifying information (“PII”), privacy, confidentiality, and intellectual property;
  2. Ensures that GC is committed to fostering an educational environment that allows for freedoms of speech and expression in accordance with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, GC will not tolerate any activity or posting on an Official University Social Media Site that loses First Amendment protection such as any unlawful, defamatory, or obscene (as defined by state and federal law) activity or posting. For more information, please see the Monitoring Social Media Accounts section in this policy.
  3. Only reflective or representative of the individual department or organization and not of the University as a whole, unless the user has received prior authorization from University Communications, the AVP of University Communications or their designated proxy to post or make specific comments.
  4. Ethically appropriate and factually accurate, demonstrating good judgment and professionalism.
  5. GC does not govern or regulate content on personal Social Media accounts by faculty, staff, students or others.  When speaking or acting as a private person, individuals should avoid creating the impression they are speaking or acting on behalf of GC.
  6. This policy applies to the use of University Social Media Accounts by University faculty, staff, students, Structured Volunteers, and Affiliates to represent or discuss matters concerning units within the University and applies when representing individual departments within the University or discussing matters concerning individual departments within the University.
  7. University Communications reserves the right to work with the appropriate supervisor, department head, or division leader to remove any official or unofficial social media account that represents the University or creates the impression of representing the University and is in violation of the policy.

Proposed Outcome:

This Policy aims to provide guidance for posting information utilizing social media while maintaining the integrity of the Georgia College brand.

Applicability of the Policy:

This policy is applicable to all GC employees, including student employees, faculty members, students, volunteers, and contractors.

Related Policies:

Georgia College Disruptive Behavior Policy

Georgia College Ethics Policy

Georgia College Freedom of Expression Policy

Georgia College Technology Policy

Georgia College Student Code of Conduct

USG Ethics Policy

USG Freedom of Expression

USG Use of Institution Names, Symbols, and Trademarks

Social Media Guidelines

Brand Guidelines

Procedures

Creating and Registering a social media account

Georgia College encourages various departments, offices and units to maintain effective communication on social media. Creating a social media account for an office, department or unit is a long-term commitment and you want to make sure you have considered these important questions:

  • What audience are you trying to reach?
  • What goals are you trying to accomplish?
  • Do you have a sustainable content plan?

Only full-time faculty and staff members can request an official social media account for the university with approval from a supervisor. After you have received the approval of your supervisor, you will need to submit a request to the social media coordinator. After an initial meeting with the social media coordinator to discuss content for the account, the Associate Vice President for University Communications or his or her designee must approve before the account can launch. University Communications reserves the right to deny account creation for accounts that would violate best practice guidelines (ie. lacking a sustainable content source), accounts that further diminish the brand voice, or present an increased opportunity for risk to the institution. While any office, department or unit may create an “unofficial” account, only official university social media accounts will be considered as part of the university-wide inventory of social media accounts. Any unofficial social media account must include the phrase “independent account of department name” in the bio and must correct issues if asked to do so by the Associate Vice President for Communications or his or her designee.

For guidelines on best practices for using social media including how to set up accounts on different social media platforms, please see the Social Media Guidelines.

Managing social media accounts

It is the expectation that social media accounts are active during Fall and Spring semesters (posting content at least 2 times a week) and that all questions and concerns are acknowledged within 24 hours of receipt.

  • Students are welcome to post on an official university account on the department’s behalf however each account must have one full time staff or faculty member that will serve as the primary point of contact between University Communications and the Office/Department or unit.
  • Each official social media account must be registered to a mailing list accessible by more than one person. Email addresses already established for customer service are preferred, (ie. departmentname@gcsu.edu). Offices and departments should request a mailing list for the department to be set up from Information Technology. Once the mailing list has been set up, the mailing list email should be used as the login email on social media accounts.
  • Passwords and logins should be known and maintained by account administrators as well as their direct leadership and updated once a semester.
  • Accounts must abide by Georgia College’s branding resources in order that Georgia College maintains a unified presence online.
    • Accounts must identify themselves as “Georgia College” somewhere in the display title of the page. The preferred social media handle is @gcdepartmentname, @gc.departmentname or @gc_departmentname.
    • Accounts must use an official department extension logo provided by University Communications as the account profile badge. This logo is designed to fit as a badge on any platform and comes in two variations (white with green logo or green with white logo). Athletic departments will use the official athletic extension logo as their profile badge. The social media coordinator will provide the social media badge for new accounts as they are created. If you need your department’s social media badge or need help uploading it, please email socialmedia@gcsu.edu.
  • In rare cases, a department can use a different social media badge in lieu of the official department extension or athletic extension logo. All exceptions must be approved by the Marketing and Publications Director prior to implementation. If you would like to request an exception, please email socialmedia@gcsu.edu.
  • In times of an emergency such as inclement weather, emergency situations, crisis or other abnormal situations, offices and departments should share or retweet communications from Georgia College’s main social media accounts in order that all of Georgia College’s social media channels are working in unison to distribute accurate information as quickly as possible.

Monitoring social media accounts

  • As a public university, Georgia College has a responsibility to ensure that any social media user is allowed freedom of speech regardless of their point of view. Administrators should never disable comments on social media posts but are responsible for monitoring posts or comments on their page from other users. GC accounts reserve the right to delete or hide posts and should only do so to posts that are in violation of the following.
    • Posts or comments that contain threats of imminent harm or death
    • Posts or comments that disclose any information that is confidential by either regulation or law enforcement
    • Posts or comments that incite immediate lawless action
    • Posts or comments that contain advertisements for or sell any commercial product, service, entity, or individual not related to overall university operations or Georgia College campus
    • Posts or comments that imply Georgia College directly supports or criticizes a political candidate or initiative
    • Posts or comments that violate any copyright or trademark
    • Posts or comments that contain obscenity or any other illegal sexual content
    • Posts or comments that are off topic and don’t apply to the original post

While it may be tempting to remove a negative comment or post, accounts should never remove or hide a post that doesn’t violate this policy and would restrict a user’s point of view. Instead look for ways to turn the situation into a positive engagement opportunity. For more information on how to engage in negative situations, please see our Social Media Guidelines and Georgia College’s Freedom of Expression Policy.

Comments posted by third party individuals on Georgia College social media platforms do not necessarily reflect the views of Georgia College or its affiliates.

Continued violations of the Social Media Policy for social media users external to GC may result in the user being blocked or banned from posting on the official university social media account. Social media users internal to GC are subject to the conditions above as well as the Georgia College Ethics Policy, Georgia College Disruptive Behavior Policy and the Georgia College Student Code of Conduct and can have their right to post on official social media accounts revoked if decided by the Associate Vice President, or his/her designee, and the appropriate Vice President of division.

Expectations for social media accounts

As the administrator of an official social media account, you are expected to,

  • Generate content for your account that is engaging, on-brand, and directly aligns with the unit’s overarching goals and objectives. The social media coordinator can provide guidance and best practices on how to create content. University Communications always strives to amplify official department accounts on social media by sharing content that is engaging and applicable to a broad audience. Decisions to share content created by official department accounts on the Georgia College main social media accounts are guided by criteria designed to determine synergy between accounts and fit with our target audience: students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders. While University Communications will try to incorporate content from official department social media accounts as much as possible, we do reserve the right to deny sharing content on the main Georgia College social media accounts if the content doesn’t apply to a broad audience, isn’t applicable to Georgia College, or violates other best practices.
  • Maintain active communication between department leadership/stakeholders, University Communications, and subsidiary official social media accounts and administrators within respective organizations.
  • Serve as the primary point of contact for any units, programs, or organizations that have social media needs within the department or office and to serve as the social media liaison between the department and the social media coordinator.
  • Ensure that all communications from the account follows best practice guidelines as outlined in the Social Media Guidelines.
  • Notify the social media coordinator and proactively communicate about any emerging issues, concerns, upcoming potential hot topics, or potential crisis communications or response needs.
  • Actively participate in the Social Media Council that meets monthly during the fall and spring semesters (Members are expected to miss no more that 3 meetings a year.)
  • Post 2 times a week during the fall and spring semesters and maintain an active listing on the social media directory.
  • Follow branding standards and best practice guidelines listed in the Social Media Guidelines and on University Communications website.

Official social media accounts and administrators are prohibited from

  • Posting content that violates state or federal laws and regulations.
  • Commenting on or posting anything related to existing or potential legal matters or litigation without approval from the Office of Legal Affairs.
  • Using the university brand or name to endorse any view, product, private business, cause, or political candidate.
  • Representing personal opinions as university-endorsed views or policies.
  • Speaking on behalf of the broader university without approval from University Communications.
  • Sharing content that is profane, contains immediate threats, off topic, or any other violation as defined by the Social Media Policy.
  • Deleting or moderating content beyond the measures outlined in the Social Media Policy.

Non-Compliance

Failure to comply with the requirements of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination or expulsion in accordance with relevant University policies and may result in prosecution in accordance with state and federal law.

Questions or Inquiries: socialmedia@gcsu.edu

Creation Date: July 2019

Revision Date: N/A

Last Reviewed Date: N/A

Next Review Date: May 2022

Responsible Department: University Communications

Cabinet Approval Date: June 23, 2020          

Effective Date: June 23, 2020