Social Media Policy Resource Guide for Higher Ed

Social Media Policy Resource Guide for Higher Ed

When developing a social media policy, it is important to remember the nature of “social media” as a web platform. By creating an official presence for your college or university on a social media platform, you are immediately opening a dialogue with your audience. With every post you make, you’re engaging in a conversation that may have different rules and regulations than your existing communications policy.

One of the best ways to begin is to look at a wide range of policies developed by other schools. Here are some examples of social media policies from higher ed institutions:

  • DePaul University
  • Florida International University
  • George Mason University
  • Hamilton College
  • Kansas State University
  • Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Seattle University
  • University of Texas - Austin
  • Washington University in St. Louis

Some of the most common key messages in these social media policies are:

  • Authenticity and transparency
  • Protecting confidential information
  • Respecting copyrights
  • Developing a social media strategy
  • Respecting your audience
  • Obeying terms of service on specific platforms

For information on responding to negative comments or posts from your audience:

If your plan is to cover blogging in your policy document, here are some resources:

You don’t have to start from scratch, either. Check out the PolicyTool for Social Media, “a policy generator that simplifies the process of creating guidelines that respect the rights of your employees while protecting your brand online.”

Remember, your social media policy document doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Coca-cola had a very simple approach to their social media policy. They listed 10 Key Principles for Online Spokespeople and supported it with a 3-page document. Adam Brown, Head Of Social Media at Coca-Cola, explains in the video below.

And finally, make sure that you’re well-prepared for an official social media presence. Robin Smail put together a great, simple presentation called 10 Signs You Shouldn’t Be Doing Social Media. It’s up-front and honest about the key traits you’ll need to have, like social skills, humor, and openness.

Do you have a social media policy document at your college or university? What’s working well for you? Please share your examples in the comments.

Photo credit: webtreats

This post was written by:

Mike Petroff

Mike Petroff - who has written 12 posts on .eduGuru

Mike is the Web Manager for Enrollment at Emerson College in Boston, MA.  He leads web marketing and online recruitment efforts for undergraduate and graduate admission.  Mike also chairs the social media group at Emerson as they work on coming up with ways to use the social web to recruit the next generation of students. You can find him on Twitter at @mikepetroff.

6 Responses to “Social Media Policy Resource Guide for Higher Ed”

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    Mary Says:

    Great resources. Thanks!


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    Mallory Wood Says:

    Mike, this is really a great post. I’ve already emailed it to a few people. Thanks to you, Seth Odell (www.higheredlive), and the simtech last supper I am pumped to get going on actually writing down social media guidelines for Saint Michael’s College. I have had it all “in my head” for too long and can’t wait to get working on something a bit more formal.

    One example that you missed is from Vanderbilt University. I find it to be incredibly comprehensive and will be super helpful to me!



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    Andrew Careaga Says:

    Thanks for the resources. I second Mallory on Vanderbilt’s policy — definitely one of the most comprehensive I’ve found. Also, Ball State’s policy is worth reviewing. For what it’s worth, here is the link to our social media guidelines at Missouri S&T.

    And from the gratuitous self-promotion department: I’m co-presenting an Academic Impressions webinar on social media policies in December.


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    Andrew Careaga Says:

    I guess my previous comment had one too many links and got Captcha’d, so let me try again:

    I second Mallory on Vanderbilt’s policy — definitely one of the most comprehensive I’ve found. Also, Ball State’s policy is worth reviewing. For what it’s worth, here is the link to our social media guidelines at Missouri S&T.

    In my previous attempt, I included a link to the social media policies webinar I’ll be co-presenting via Academic Impressions. It’s called “Crafting an Effective Social Media Policy” and will be on Dec. 7.


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    Kim Says:

    Although this is a great resource, and I’ve added it to my site, I find some of these policies lacking because they do not address how social media will be use in the event of crisis. I have some information on this topic on my website. Since Universities use social media to communicate with students, students and their parents will turn to those sources during a crisis event and institutions need to plan for that inevitability. Here’s a slide presentation I did for the Department of Education on the topic of Social Media for University Emergency Managers.


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    Mike McCready Says:

    This is a great article with a great list od resources. We are still in the process of developing a policy.

    Thanks for sharing.


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