When engaging in social media as a representative of University of Michigan-Dearborn, it is important to project a proper sense of decorum and respect through your interactions. Remember, you are representing the university and in many cases your personal identity will not be transparent. Be aware that your actions reflect directly on the university’s reputation.
General rules to follow when using social media
- Respect others. 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 respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person.
- 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. Don’t post information about topics like UM-Dearborn events or a book you’ve authored unless you are sure it will be of interest to readers. Self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being banned from websites or groups.
- Stay on topic. Engage in open discussion about UM-Dearborn events. Postings that are irrelevant to the university add no value to the conversation. Don’t spam and use the space as a platform to share information about your work and achievements.
- Be transparent. 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 do not know you personally. They view what you post as coming from the university. Be careful and be respectful. What you say directly reflects on UM-Dearborn. Discuss with your supervisor when you are empowered to respond directly to users and when you may need approval.
- Be respectful. As a UM-Dearborn employee, you understand the university’s commitment to respect for the dignity of others and to the civil and thoughtful discussion of opposing ideas. Some online communities can be volatile, tempting users to behave in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. Always pause and think before posting. That said, reply to comments in a timely manner, when a response is appropriate.
- Be accurate. Make sure you have all the facts before you post. It’s better to verify information with a source first than to have to post a correction or retraction later. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible. After all, that’s how you build community.
- Did you screw up? 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.
- Be timely. Assign an administrator who can regularly monitor postings and content on a regular basis. Aim for regular postings and updates. The recommended frequency is at least once to twice a week. Also be sure not to overhaul your updates. Followers will stop paying attention if you overload them with information.
- Be a leader. There can be a fine line between healthy debate and incendiary reaction. Do not denigrate our competitors or UM-Dearborn. Nor do you need to respond to every criticism or barb. Try to frame what you write to invite differing points of view without inflaming others. Some topics—like politics or religion—slide more easily into sensitive territory. So be careful and considerate. Once the words are out there, you can’t really get them back. And once an inflammatory discussion gets going, it’s hard to stop.
- It’s a conversation. Talk to your readers like you would talk to real people in professional situations. In other words, avoid overly pedantic or “composed” language. Consider content that’s open-ended and invites response.
- Encourage comments. You can also broaden the conversation by citing others who are posting about the same topic and allowing your content to be shared or syndicated across different platforms.
- Your Responsibility. What you write is ultimately your responsibility. Participation in social networks on behalf of UM-Dearborn is not a right but an opportunity, so please treat it seriously and with respect.
It is very important that users remember that they should not post confidential or proprietary information about the university or any members of its community. All applicable federal requirements such as FERPA and HIPPA, as well as NCAA regulations, must be followed at all times. If content refers to a situation involving specific individuals on a social media site, it is helpful to ensure that the individuals cannot be identified.
If posting on behalf of UM-Dearborn, clearly identify your role. Also, consider adding this line to your personal social network identity - Although I work for UM-Dearborn, my Facebook posts are my own.
Handling negative feedback/posts
The question about what to do when negative posts are made on social networks is a valid one. Although feared negative comments are typically not posted as frequently as expected. However, it is important to have a game plan about how to respond when they are posted.
Do not delete or ignore negative comments, simply because they are negative. Act quickly. Address the criticism. Contact the person that made the comment to see how you can help resolve the issue.
Social network governance
Anything posted on UM-Dearborn social networks should be in good taste and appropriate for all audiences. Photos, comments, videos and stories shared on university social networks by users may be reused by UM-Dearborn on other platforms.
UM-Dearborn reserves the right to delete comments that are deemed by the page administrators as inappropriate. These comments include, but are not limited to, political endorsements or banter, outside links, mudslinging or defamation, advertisements and promotion of any sort or SPAM.
How to brand your social network presence
When developing your social media presence, think first and foremost about searchability. Search engines, such as Google or Yahoo, and Facebook’s own search engine will pull up accounts based on keyword relevance. Pick something obvious and relevant. That’s how you’ll get followers.
Tip: While using “University of Michigan-Dearborn” may seem long, it’s the most-used Google search by people looking for our website. It is important to stay unified in our naming conventions so that users know that you are affiliated with the university. Having unified naming conventions also increases credibility of newly created pages. If a situation calls for a shortened version of the university's full name, UM-Dearborn is preferred.
Stick to simple graphics that represent the UM-Dearborn brand. Contact the Office of Communications and Marketing for help with graphics and design for your social media presence and visit the Identity Guidelines at http://www.umd.umich.edu/idguide/ for logo rights and permissions. Remember that the UM-Dearborn logo should be utilized for the official university pages. Please use department specific logos when possible.