Social Media Best Practices

UNC Charlotte recognizes that social media websites are powerful communications tools that can have a significant impact on organizational and professional reputations.  The University has put together the following set of guidelines for how you should manage any University social media presence where you might be an administrator, as well as best practices to consider when participating in social media discussions.  Please also remember to consult University Policy 302, Web Communications, for further instruction.

  1. Maintain confidentiality. Do not post confidential or proprietary information about UNC Charlotte, its students, alumni, or your fellow employees.  Use good ethical judgment and follow University policies and legal requirements, such as University Policy 101.8 on Personnel Records and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  2. Maintain privacy. As a guideline, do not post anything that you would not present in any public forum.  Original photos or quotes referencing specific individuals should be approved by the individual being pictured or referenced.
  3. Do no harm. Let your Internet social networking do no harm to UNC Charlotte, yourself, other individuals or organizations.  This includes refraining from posting any information, photos, or other items online that could embarrass you, your family, your colleagues, or the University.  If you have a grievance or an issue with anyone in the University community, please consult your supervisor, Human Resources, or the Office of Legal Affairs for avenues available to you for addressing those issues.
  4. Don't pick fights online. Social media, especially when acting on behalf of the University, is not the forum to engage in argumentative or accusatory conversation or behavior.  If a commenter, follower, or participant in your social media activity or website is engaging in such behavior, respond only if absolutely necessary to correct factual inaccuracies, and always with tolerance, respect and gratitude for their willingness to share their thoughts.  If needed, follow up individually or privately with aggravated participants - doing so will help to discourage their continued negative posting, and help you solve potential problems more effectively.  In short, don't argue.
  5. Respect your audience. Don't use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in UNC Charlotte's community.  You should show proper consideration for others' privacy and for topics that may be considered sensitive, such as politics and religion.  Users are free to discuss topics and disagree with one another, but please be respectful of others' opinions.  You are more likely to achieve your goals if you are constructive and courteous while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person.
  6. Correct mistakes. If you make a mistake, admit it.  Be upfront and be quick with your correction.  If you're posting to a blog, you may choose to modify an earlier post - just make it clear that you have done so.
  7. Social media is public. There's no such thing as a "private" social media site.  Remember that anything that is posted online is available to anyone in the world the moment it is posted, regardless of whether site access is limited or whether you posted under an assumed name.  Search engines can turn up posts and pictures years after the publication date.  Comments can be forwarded or copied.  Archival systems save information even if you delete a post.  If you feel angry or passionate about a subject, it's wise to delay posting until you are calm and clear-headed.  Post only pictures that you would be comfortable sharing with the general public (current and future peers, employers, etc.).
  8. Monitor comments. Most people who maintain social media sites welcome comments - it builds credibility and community.  However, you may be able to set your profile to where public comments are not visible, or set your blog or wiki so that you can review and approve comments before they appear.  This allows you to respond in a timely way, delete spam comments, or block any individuals who repeatedly post offensive or frivolous comments.
  9. Seek approval. Any messages distributed on behalf of an official University college, school, department or organization (as opposed to student organizations), can and will be interpreted as the "voice" or position of the University by members of the public, and as such must be approved by the University, the director of the college, school, or department, or a delegate from that group.
  10. Be accurate. Make sure that you have all of the facts before you post.  It's better to verify information with a source first than have to post a correction or retraction later.  Cite and link to your sources whenever possible - that's how you build community.
  11. Be aware of public perception. If you participate in or maintain a social media site on behalf of the University, clearly state your role and goals.  Keep in mind that if you are posting with a University username, other users will not know you personally.  They view what you post as coming from the University.  Be careful and be respectful because what you say directly reflects on the University.  Discuss the circumstances in which you are empowered to respond directly with your supervisor, and when you may need approval.
  12. Be responsible. What you write is ultimately your responsibility.  Participation in social media on behalf of UNC Charlotte is not a right, but an opportunity that must be treated seriously and with respect.  Be sure to abide by the guidelines on this page, and in University Policy 302.
  13. Be timely. For official University pages and sites, assign an administrator who can regularly monitor postings and content.  Create a schedule for postings and updates.  The recommended minimum frequency is one or two posts per week.  However, be sure not to overload your updates.  Followers stop paying attention if you inundate them with information.
  14. Be a valued member. If you join a social network like a Facebook group or comment on someone's blog, make sure you are contributing valuable insights.  Post information about topics like UNC Charlotte events or a book you've authored only when you are sure it will be of interest to members.  In some forums, self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being banned from those websites or groups.
  15. Brand matters. If you create a social media site on behalf of the University, use simple graphics that represent the UNC Charlotte brand.  Also, remember to respect the integrity of the brand of the individual social media platforms themselves.  See the links below for guidance.
  16. Be thoughtful. If you have any questions about whether it is appropriate to write about certain kinds of material in your role as a UNC Charlotte employee, ask your supervisor before you post.