When identifying yourself as a Mount Royal University employee, student or group online, there are certain guidelines and best practices to keep in mind. (Please note: these guidelines are intended specifically for marketing and communications and not for any social networking activities related to classroom instruction, teaching and learning, or scholarship.)
These guidelines were developed by the Social Networking Committee using best practice and research — including internal focus groups.
What is social networking?
Social Networking can be described as engaging with your audience in a long term, interactive, two-way dialogue online. Social networking can encompass any social media tool such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, podcasts, LinkedIn to name only a few.
Be aware of relevant institutional policies — Users must abide by all applicable institutional policies such as those covering Acceptable Use Policy for Mount Royal Computer Resources, Code of Ethics, Conflict of Interest, Copyright legislation, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPP) legislation, and for students, the Code of Student Conduct.
Think before you post — Be courteous and respectful of those using the space. Always ask the question: “Would I say this to their face?” Don’t post when you are angry or upset. And remember, private conversations and social networking sites do not go hand-in-hand. And keep in mind you will relinquish copyright ownership of any information you post on a social networking site, to the site.
Add value not noise – Ensure what you write would be considered beneficial to your audience. Information should be engaging, timely and relevant. Don’t spam others or use social networking as a personal promotional blow horn. Ensure your communication is direct and strategic.
Legal considerations — Your comments, posts and links (peruse and validate all links before posting) must not contain defamatory, obscene or illegal material. Comments must abide by Canadian law such as libel, slander copyright and FOIPP and copyright. If you are posting images and photos, ensure you have the proper permissions.
Be transparent and authentic — Be open and honest at all times. If you are commenting on behalf of your department or area — say so. Never pretend to be someone else and post/comments about Mount Royal University. If you are posting your personal opinion (not necessarily the department you represent) say so. Use “I” versus “we”.
Protect your identity — Transparency is a necessary trait of social networking, but do not share personal documents or information such as your home telephone number, address or employee/student ID. Not properly protecting yourself and your identity on-line is risky.
Maintain confidentiality — Never post confidential or proprietary information about Mount Royal, its staff, its students or its alumni. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t be comfortable seeing on the cover of your local newspaper.
Negative feedback always needs to be responded to — Negative feedback is an opportunity to identify items or services your audience is unhappy with and to fix it within a public forum. Respond as quickly as possible and in the voice and tone of the institution or your area, not personally. Your response can be a reminder of acceptable usage of the social networking site and/or guidelines and consequences if they are not adhered to (delete comments that contain profanity or threats); or correcting statements that have incorrect/inflammatory information. However, there is a difference between a negative opinion that users are entitled to have and voice — and threatening, harassing, profane comments that are not acceptable.
Consistent communication — Social networking is about entering into a long term conversation. Avoid creating an account, posting once or twice and then not use it again for months. Ensure you have a plan that will allow for regular communication over a long period of time, one year as a minimum is a good rule of thumb (e.g. staff dedicated to social networking).
Big picture — Mount Royal University has an institutional social networking strategy. When developing a department/area plan one should consider the impact on the campus-wide plan. For more information contact Marketing and Communications.
Dedicated resources — establishing, monitoring and maintaining a current and relevant social networking presence is time-consuming and requires significant time and attention. Do not start the process unless you have made provisions to dedicate the appropriate human resources toward it.
Accuracy — Check and double check your facts. If you are not sure an item is correct, do not post it. If you make an error, correct it — and let others know it has been corrected.
Style Guide adherence — No matter which social networking tool you are using. Spelling and grammar are important, but different applications may call for different approaches, naming conventions and tone (Twitter as an example). For specific guidelines visit Mount Royal University’s Style Guide which can be found on MyMRU.
Training opportunities — Take advantage of available training and professional development opportunities. For example, the Marketing and Communications hosts workshops and “how to” sessions on specific social networking sites periodically. If you are ever in doubt, check with your team leader or contact Marketing and Communications.
View the PowerPoint from the Jan. 2011 Social Networking campus presentations.
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