Social Media Guidelines
ACC encourages and supports participation on social networks. These networks are effective tools for marketing, communication, and customer service. Students often seek relevant information, discussion, support, and multimedia on social media first.
These guidelines, rules, and best practices were developed to ensure the most effective use of social media for marketing and outreach efforts across the college.
Personal profiles of individual faculty, staff, and students are not covered by these guidelines; however, faculty, staff, and student groups are advised to follow these guidelines if their personal social media presence could be construed as college-affiliated.
Faculty members are urged to contact Instructional Resources & Technology when developing a social media presence for instructional use.
The following information is updated regularly to reflect new developments in social media platforms and management.
Official college presence
PICM maintains all official social media pages and accounts that represent Austin Community College. These pages are listed on ACC’s Social Media hub webpage.
Individuals or departments wishing to submit content to or make suggestions for these official college pages should contact PICM.
Departments and other ACC organizations
ACC departments and other college organizations wishing to develop a social media presence should contact PICM for specialized guidance before setting up any pages or accounts. This will ensure appropriate steps are taken when developing a social media plan for your area. You also may refer to the Social Media Best Practices below.
If your pages or accounts already exist, please contact PICM and provide links, administrator names, and contact info to be added to PICM’s internal database of all college-affiliated social media pages and accounts.
Departments and groups that establish their own social media pages or accounts are solely responsible for producing content and maintaining the page or account. It is highly recommended that ACC departments and areas assign an individual the duty of maintaining that area’s respective social media presence.
Connecting with ACC
Social media administrators should connect their department or organization pages and accounts with the official ACC pages and accounts. For example, if the department or organization operates a Twitter account, it should follow the official ACC Twitter account.
All content should relate directly to college business, programs, and/or services. Content placed by administrators should not promote individual opinions or causes that are not directly related to college purposes.
Photos and videos
Uploaded photos and videos should relate directly to ACC and should not be used as promotional tools for unrelated programs, products, or services outside the college. All photos and videos should adhere to existing college policies, copyright laws, and the terms and conditions of the specific social media tools. Also refer to the ACC Style Guide before using the college’s official logo.
Maintaining pages and accounts
Pages and accounts should be regularly maintained, moderated, and kept as up-to-date as possible.
Rights, responsibilities, and moderation
ACC embraces free speech values. Our goal is to encourage free speech on college-affiliated social media pages and accounts, as well as to promote community values and ideals.
It is the right of the administrator to remove user-created posts and content that violates posted rules.
Because social media sites are interactive tools, administrators should monitor pages closely and frequently to supervise conduct. Contact PICM with questions and concerns about moderating questionable content on your area’s page or account.
Contact PICM if you have concerns about content posted by the administrators of the college’s overall social media pages or accounts.
Developing strategy and creating accounts
Effective use of social media requires constant attention and a defined strategy. Refer to the following steps to develop your strategy before you start any social media initiative representing an ACC department or organization.
Contact PICM for specialized guidance when creating your area’s social media presence.
- Define purpose and goals
What are your goals? How does social media fit with your area’s other marketing and communication efforts? While starting a social media page or account is easy, maintaining a presence requires time, effort, and resources.
Make sure you have a clear purpose before you begin. Document these goals and measure against them to determine if your social media effort is succeeding.
- Choose your platform(s)
Social media tools are abundant. Determine which platform, network, or tool offers features and functions that best reach your audience and goals.
Avoid adopting too many social media platforms as each requires time and attention to succeed. A neglected page or account does more harm than good when representing your area.
If the college or another area is using the platform(s) you chose, could your area join that project or effort? Consider this before creating a new page or account.
- Plan your content types
Which platform(s) you choose often determine what types of content you can create and share. Keeping your goals in mind, plan the types of content your area will publish. Examples include brief text posts, standalone photos, photo galleries, video clips, event listings, and more.
Brainstorm potential content for your social media pages or accounts and refer to your list when developing fresh content in the future.
- Commit resources and assign responsibilities
A successful social media campaign requires sufficient resources to maintain a steady stream of content and moderate usage. An ambitious social media presence may not succeed if maintained engagement isn’t a priority.
Determine who on your team will maintain the project before creating your social media presence.
While you may assign multiple content contributors from your area, one person should “own” the project and be responsible for day-to-day management of the page or account, including duties such as responding to users, monitoring interaction, and posting new content.
- Track usage
Tracking your page or account’s usage is essential when reviewing the success of your project. Most platforms make tracking usage easy. An example is Facebook’s Insights feature. Establish a process to track usage, and use metrics to measure your success in achieving your goals.
Posting content and moderating usage
Be transparent and honest
Honesty and transparency are key components of social media interaction. When interacting with contributors, communicate openly, truthfully, and in a friendly manner.
Do not adopt a false persona online. When engaging in a dialogue on behalf of your area and ACC, disclose your affiliation and role up front. Be mindful that all your contributions are public, and participate as you would in any other public setting.
Many of us also maintain private social networking accounts. Please be aware your professional affiliation with ACC may be recognizable on your personal profile. While these guidelines are for those participating on social media sites on behalf of ACC, this guidance is sound in personal context as well.
Set the right tone
The tone of conversation on social media platforms varies, but overall it tends to be informal and conversational, personal rather than institutional.
When engaging in discussions on behalf of ACC, join the flow of conversation and offer your viewpoint as one of many. Use proper grammar, spelling, and appropriate language. Do not focus on using a professorial tone. Instead, communicate clearly and effectively using Plain Language.
Social networks are a 24-hour medium. As such, posts should be scheduled to publish on your page or account across regular intervals and during peak usage times, instead of posted “rapid-fire” all in one afternoon, or on one day of the week.
Third-party software products allow for scheduling content. HootSuite and Measured Voice are two recommended options. Scheduling content to publish when your audience is typically online will make your posts more effective. Scheduled posts also lessen your time-sensitive workload when managing your page or account.
Social media platforms are founded on open communication with visitors posting comments, photos, and other content on pages.
When moderating your page or account, consider removing posts or comments if they are:
- Exceptions to freedom of speech. Remove posts that are defamatory or obscene, cause panic, use fighting or threatening words, or incite to crime.
- Limited purpose violations. For sites with a limited purpose identified on the site, remove posts that are clearly unrelated to the subject of the page.
Responding to negativity
Users may contribute posts that are negative, and even offensive, but do not warrant removal under the above guidelines and rules. In these cases, respond as follows:
- Respond immediately to correct misinformation;
- Allow time for others to respond; and
- When appropriate, decide who should respond and craft a correct response (with fact checking and involvement as needed).
Due to the commonly informal, conversational mode of discourse on social media, it is possible that you will make mistakes and potentially cause offense or misunderstanding. If you find yourself in a defensive position, post a retraction, correction, and/or apology as appropriate.
Uploading content and media (Copyright)
Make sure you have the necessary rights before uploading content to your social media page or account. If you allow users to upload content to your page or account, you must actively monitor those uploads and respond to suitability and copyright concerns.
Tracking and maintenance
Your area’s social media presence provides an opportunity to bring people to ACC. Use links to drive traffic to austincc.edu when possible. For example, post about a college news item and link to the full story in the ACC Newsroom, or remind your audience of resources your area provides under the austincc.edu domain by linking directly to certain pages in quick social posts.
Also, provide links to your social media pages and/or accounts on your webpage so visitors know where to find and follow your social media presence. Small icon links are easily recognized by web visitors.
Track your social media traffic and effectiveness using available tools. Facebook’s “Insights” feature, as an example, offers intensive data about your page and content. Twitter offers a “Connect” tab and advanced search feature that helps monitor the reception of your content and see who’s talking about you. Analyze the data regularly and adjust your content based on what works for your area and goals.
Be sure you know the length of your commitment before you launch any social media page or account. If you create a limited-duration page or account, post the duration and close date clearly on that page. For pages or accounts without a limited duration, the area responsible for the page or account has the discretion to take it down or remove features. If this is to be done, we recommend informing your audience of the change.
Official Social Network Reference Guides
Many popular social networks offer official guides for creating and maintaining a page or account. These are helpful in providing specific tips when trying to properly use a social media platform to reach your goals.
- Facebook Pages: Mission control for your business on Facebook
- Twitter Rules and Best Practices
- Best Practices for Organizations using Flickr
- About YouTube
Other similar third-party resources and guides are available across the web. Mashable is a recognized aggregator of such information, as well as news about the world of social media.