Social Media Guidelines and Best Practices

Social media has become increasingly important to how Harper College communicates with its students, alumni, supporters, friends and community members.

Taking advantage of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn gives campus units a unique opportunity to engage constituents while supporting the college’s mission, vision, philosophy, core values and strategic plan.

Like all official communication from Harper College, messages shared on social media need to be consistent, accurate and professional. This document outlines guidelines and best practices for employees who oversee college-owned/managed/supported social media accounts, so that successful social media plans can be implemented.

Harper College Social Media Guidelines and Best Practices were developed by the Office of Marketing Services and through collaboration with campus stakeholders. Questions about this document should be directed to mbarzacc@harpercollege.edu or 847.925.6510. 

Note that all social media activity is subject to the following guidelines authored by the Marketing Services department at Harper College.

Protect confidential and proprietary information.

Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Harper College, students, employees or alumni. Employees must still follow the applicable federal requirements such as FERPA and HIPAA. Adhere to all applicable college privacy and confidentiality policies.

Respect copyright and fair use.

Be mindful of the copyright and intellectual property rights of others and of the college. For guidance, consult the Copyright and Fair Use section on the college’s website.

Don’t use Harper College logos for endorsements.

Do not use the Harper College logo or any other college image or iconography on your social media site. Do not use Harper College’s name to promote a product, cause or political party or candidate.

Respect college time and property.

College computers and time on the job are reserved for college-related business as approved by supervisors. For guidelines, consult the Acceptable Use Policy.

Terms of service.

Obey the Terms of Service of any social media platform employed.

  • Example: Facebook profiles must represent a real person.
  • Example: Contest terms of service differ for each platform. Some require third-party applications.

Fundraising.

The Harper College Educational Foundation is the only agency authorized to seek gift support using the college’s name. All solicitations, by any method, including through any Harper College social media sites, must be coordinated with and approved by the Harper College Education Foundation through the Development office.

Photography.

Generally speaking, it is permissible to capture university photographic images of people in public places performing public activities. For staged photography set-ups or photos that feature one or more people, Harper College staff should obtain signed release forms from the subjects. While photographing, Harper College staff will respect anyone’s request not to be photographed. If the individual is a minor, parental or guardian consent is required. If a request is made to stop using a photo/image of a person, you must abide by that request.

Crisis communication.

If faced with a crisis of safety or concern on your social media site, do not respond. Take a screen shot and alert the crisis communication team at crisiscomm@harpercollege.edu. If faced with an immediate threat, contact the Harper Campus Police at 847.925.6330.

Advertising.

All digital and social media advertising is coordinated through Harper College Marketing Services Center. For questions, contact Donna Harwood at dharwood@harpercollege.edu.

 

All Harper College staff, faculty and students should look to these tips on how to participate in social media in positive, meaningful ways that reflect well on the college and its four core values: respect, integrity, collaboration and excellence.

Respect

  • Respect the privacy of yourself and others.
  • Respect your audience. As ambassadors of the college, be courteous and professional.
  • Respect the reach and longevity of the Internet. Remember that colleagues, family members, peers and current/future/potential employers can and will see your output forever.
  • Respect our reputation. While social media sites are generally informal by nature, you still represent the college, so don’t lose your grip on basic grammar and spelling.

Integrity

  • Adhere to The Grandma Rule. That which being, don’t post anything your grandma wouldn’t want to see.
  • Be transparent. Avoid screen names or anonymity. Identifying yourself can provide authenticity and value to your social media site.
  • Be mindful of context. Don’t risk people taking incomplete thoughts out of context.
  • Manage your passwords. In the event that you forget your password or it gets lost in the transition of account managers, we recommend sharing your passwords with Kevin Prchal, Digital Content Specialist in Marketing Services at kprchal@harpercollege.edu. A stale or abandoned account that represents the campus is detrimental to the college’s reputation - more so than not having that account at all.

Collaboration

  • Be generous. Share links and allow others to contribute content. It will, in turn, increase the likelihood that others will link to you, increasing the number of eyes on your content and helping you strengthen group membership.
  • Let the experts respond. If you come across complaints about the school or instances that might be considered a crisis situation via a social media platform, please bring it to the attention of the crisis communication team at crisiscomm@harpercollege.edu. Further, if you receive general enrollment questions, please refer them to Harper Colleges One Stop at 847.925.6710. If referring someone to a specific Harper employee, pre-notify them so they know they are being referred.
  • Ask for advice. Unsure if a post is appropriate? Ask the Marketing Services Center for assistance. Harper College does not endorse or take responsibility for content posted by third parties, and the Marketing Services Center does not review content prior to posting unless asked to provide feedback.
  • Allow interaction. Social media sites demand authenticity. It is generally best not to censor or delete unflattering comments. However, it is recommended to delete comments or posts that contain profanity, obvious spam or any messages that are discriminatory or otherwise offensive.
  • Include two or more account administrators. Clearly assign responsibility to the person(s) in charge of regularly posting and monitoring the content on your social media site. Remember to make arrangements for succession, transferring responsibility and administrative access to the account when necessary. Do not appoint a student to be your social media manager. Students graduate, and your social media account should be consistent from semester to semester.

Excellence

  • Be responsible and informed. Any published content or accounts are subject to the policies of the college.
  • Aim for quality. Think about what you want to say before you post your comments. Make your content rich and interesting for others to read and share.
  • Stay connected. Once you establish your social media presence, especially if you are doing so as a representative of Harper College, you need to invest time in publishing useful content and responding to comments and customer service requests. Social media monitoring and engagement doesn’t stop when you leave campus.
  • Avoid automation. Don’t automatically send your Facebook posts to your Twitter feed, or vice versa. Treat each social media site independently so that you may work within the parameters of each site and maximize the richness of your content for each audience.
  • Develop a schedule. The best way to plan and organize your content is to maintain a social media schedule for your unit. Create a shared calendar, Word document or Excel spreadsheet that allows you to organize and spread out your content throughout the year.
  • Measure your success. Most social media sites offer free, on-board analytics tools that show you data about your audience’s size and engagement level. Use these tools to track your growth and to determine what content is resonating and what you can be doing better.
  • Personal accounts. If you choose to identify yourself as a Harper College employee on your personal social media accounts, please include the following disclaimer in the “About” section of your profile: Views expressed here are my own.

 

Harper College social media accounts are broken down into three main categories: Official, Affiliated and Independent. Each category determines how and at what capacity the college is associated, and each have their own set of parameters to follow.

Official

Official accounts are recognized as the accounts of Harper College. They are the go-to sources for information and communication between the college and its constituents. These accounts include:

  • Harper College / @HarperCollege
  • Harper President / @HarperPresident

Affiliated

Affiliated accounts represent departments and divisions of the college that appeal to a large portion of students or community members. These accounts work closely with Marketing Services on the rollout, strategy and branding of their accounts. All affiliate accounts are advised to follow these naming conventions:

Channel

Naming Convention

Example

Facebook page name

Unit Name at Harper College

Student Involvement at Harper College

Facebook URL/handle

HarperUnitName

@HarperCollegeStudentInvolvement

Twitter handle

@HarperUnitName

@HarperCollegeCE

Twitter name (Displays to users)

Unit Name at Harper College

Continuing Education at Harper College

Instagram

@HarperUnitName

@HarperCampusRec

Facebook and LinkedIn Groups

Begin name with “Harper College…”

Harper College Alumni

Independent

Independent accounts represent specific interests or areas of study and operate independently from the institutional channels. Examples of independent accounts include:

  • Harper College Law Enforcement Program / @HarperLawEnforcement on Instagram
  • Harper Environmental Club / @HCEnvironmentalClub on Instagram
  • Harper College International Education / @Harper_OIE on Instagram



Official

Affiliated

Independent

Managed by Marketing Services

x





Approved by Marketing Services



x



Compliant with Social Media Policy

x

x

x

Monitoring for crisis situations during standard business hours

x

x

x

Monitoring for customer service inquiries during standard business hours

x

x

x

Can use Harper College logo

x

x



Can use social media for fundraising

x

with written pre-approval from Foundation

with written pre-approval from Foundation

Must obey Terms of Service of each social media platform

x

x

x

Must have more than one administrator

x

x

x

Provide login credentials to Marketing Services



x



Must adhere to basic spelling and grammar

x

x

x

Must include a disclaimer



x

x

Must attend regular user groups

x

x



Account administrator must be a current Harper College faculty or staff member.

x

x



Adhere to all Harper College policies, employer and student code of conduct.

x

x

x

Meets Harper College brand and editorial standards

x

x



Cross-promote main channel whenever possible



x

x

 

Interested in creating a social media account to meet your marketing needs? Please take the following steps:

  • Get written approval from your Dean.
  • Contact Kevin Prchal at kprchal@harpercollege.edu to set up a meeting to discuss your goals.
  • Develop a 6-month social media calendar including the content you plan on creating and how you hope to build your audience.

 

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