UGA’s social media guidelines are for UGA employees who are participating in social media personally, professionally, and when participating in an official university communications capacity. UGA employees working in communications or marketing functions are representing the university and should strive to follow standards and best practices when using social media.
For the UGA Community
UGA faculty and staff are encouraged to engage in professional social media conversations that support UGA’s reputation and brand. The following guidelines should be reviewed and kept in mind when using social media.
1. UGA policies remain in effect
Social media usage at UGA is subject to the same policies that govern all electronic communications. Be sure to familiarize yourself with and abide by these important UGA policies when participating in social media.
2. Be Transparent
Represent yourself accurately and be transparent about your role at UGA. Unless you are in an official communications role at UGA, do not speak on behalf of the university. Instead, indicate that your posts represent of your personal views and not the opinions of the university.
Think before you post. Anything you share on social media is not guaranteed to stay private. Make it clear that the views expressed are your own.
If someone or a group offers to pay you, a UGA faculty/staff member, for participating in an online forum or offers advertising for pay and/or for endorsement, this could constitute a conflict of interest, and university policies and guidelines apply.
3. Be Thoughtful
As UGA faculty/staff, be thoughtful about how you present yourself in online networks. By identifying yourself as a member of the university family, you are a reflection of other UGA faculty/staff, managers, donors, etc.
Be mindful of what is considered appropriate behavior in different countries and cultures around the world and of how your words, actions, and images may be perceived. Know your audience and think before you post.
4. Be Responsible
Be aware of liability. You are responsible for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others.
Admit when you make mistakes and correct inaccurate information.
Remember, all content distributed online becomes instantly searchable and can be shared immediately. Once shared, the content leaves your control forever.
5. Keep it confidential
Do not disclose financial or confidential student, faculty, staff, athletic, research, or institutional information.
Do not share university‐related information that is not a matter of public record.
Do not share personal information or conversations of associates or partners unless you have their written permission to do so.
6. Be respectful
Social media provides a place to foster community and conversation. Adding value is good when on topic and in moderation. Positive and negative content are legitimate parts of any conversation. It’s OK to accept the good and bad, but not the ugly.
Anything considered inappropriate offline is likely inappropriate online also. When in doubt about whether to share or not, it's better to show restraint.
7. Be Helpful
If a student, family member, alumni, or other person posts complaints about service or other issues, review and follow the Social Networking Response Guide (See Reference Work).
If a member of the media or press contacts faculty or staff about posts made in online forums that relate to UGA in any way, faculty/staff must alert their manager/leadership and contact the Division of Marketing & Communications before responding at 706-542-9731.
8. Follow the rules
Social media platforms have their own policies and rules listed on their websites. Take the time to familiarize yourself with each platform’s guidelines and abide by them when participating.
For Managers of UGA Accounts
Transparency and full disclosure are essential when communicating through social media. If UGA has a vested interest in a topic of conversation, regardless of whether your specific area is involved, own up to it. Your audience will still appreciate the shared information, and your honesty. Always be clear in your organization’s role in the content you post, and provide links to more information to reinforce credibility and connection.
UGA followers and fans come from every background imaginable, and are from varied races, religions, cultures and interests. The way you conduct yourself on the UGA page you manage not only reflects on you, but also reflects on your department and the university as a whole. Always be respectful and courteous, especially in the face of negative posts or comments.
Keep in mind that social media is a public forum and the content you share will be widely seen and most likely captured, indexed and archived by third parties. Consider this carefully before posting. Additionally, ensure you are truly exemplifying greatness in your posts — make sure what you post is relevant, helpful, interesting, and valuable to your community.
Create and stick to your social media strategy. Start with defining and understanding your audience, your organization’s communication goals, the people and resources you have available, and the calendar of content you want to spark conversations. Think about a back-up: ensure you have at least two people with access to your social media accounts in case of emergency.
Participating on Social Media
Understand the Platforms
Learn as much as you can about the functionality of all of the platforms you intend on leveraging for social media communications. Stay informed of new and emerging features so you can use the platform to it's full potential.
Adhere to UGA Policies
Stick to the Standards
Remember you represent UGA. Be familiar with our visual standards when creating your social media account profiles and posting content of all types. If you have any questions about brand or editorial guidelines, contact the UGA Division of Marketing & Communications.
Copyrights & Trademark Usage Restrictions
Be sure you have permission to use third party images and other materials that you or your department or the University does not directly own. For example, if you went outside and took pictures of the buildings on campus, you’re fine to use them on your posts, providing you don’t have people’s faces clearly depicted in them. If you have people clearly depicted, you’ll need to obtain permission from them to use their image.
Moderation and Deleting Comments
Refer to the Monitoring and Moderation Guidelines for more direction.
Engage Community Regularly
Social Media is more than just a platform for you to post your organization’s messages, it’s a means for UGA and its fans and followers to have authentic conversation. It will be important for you to establish a regular cadence to monitor your pages for comments from your followers and fans. In many cases, engagement will be the most telling metric that your audience is excited about your content and wants to communicate with you about what you’re writing about. Before you engage, listen to conversations, view shared content, and think through how engaging can be aligned with the goals of your organization.
Do not post or comment about legal matters or when the topic being discussed may be considered an emergency or crisis. There is no such thing as anonymous posts or comments. Ask an M&C social media team member for assistance if you are in doubt about the whether you should post on a questionable topic.
Monitoring and Moderating User Comments
When managing a social media account for the University of Georgia, you are responsible for monitoring and moderating posts or comments on that page from other users.
UGA accounts reserve the right to remove any posts for any reason and will delete posts that:
- include violent, obscene, profane, hateful or racist comments
- use offensive or inappropriate language
- are offensive, denigrating, and out of context
- threaten or defame any person or organization
- disclose personally identifiable information, such as addresses or phone numbers
- include copyrighted material
- would be considered spam
- suggest or encourage illegal activity
- solicit, advertise or endorse a third‐party business or service
- are multiple successive off‐topic posts by a single user
- are repetitive posts copied and pasted by multiple users
When a post violates one or more of these, you have the responsibility and discretion to remove the offending posts and report it to the Social Media team at (706) 542-9731. You may block visitors who repeatedly violate these guidelines. If you believe a post demonstrates a credible threat, notify UGA Police at (706) 542-5813 immediately.
However, avoid the temptation to remove posts that are merely critical, angry, or represent a different opinion. If possible, respond to negative comments professionally and provide any additional information that may help resolve the issue or correct the misinformation.
Considerations for thoughtful moderation and response
Is the post or comment positive, negative, or neutral? Social media is a conversation and differing viewpoints are both expected and valuable. Community managers should engage, respond, acknowledge, moderate, or ignore posts of all types as appropriate.
Not all posts and comments require a response, nor is it time-effective to attempt to do so. One factor that should be considered when deciding whether to engage in conversation is the level of influence and potential reach an external social media user has.
Factual accuracy is important for positive and negative posts alike. Correcting facts should be done so in a manner keeping with the UGA brand and appropriate to the sentiment of the post. Be sure to cite your sources for added credibility and transparency.
Can you be of assistance to a social media user with an issue? If not, can you point the person in the right direction? Being genuinely concerned and helpful to a person can turn a negative experience into a positive, and demonstrate real caring to your community.
Be careful of being baited into an online argument that may feed into the actual intent of the person making negative posts. People sometimes vent their frustrations online and are snarky and sarcastic. Allow your community time to respond to the person and check the person’s profile and other posts when determining whether to engage or not.
Take the time to understand the situation and to craft an appropriate response. Don’t rush it, but at the same time, don’t take so much time as to lose the opportunity to amplify positive conversation or head-off a negative one.
All electronic communications are subject to the policies below. Familiarize yourself with and abide by these policies when posting online.