Social Media Conduct
When engaging in social media as a representative of the University of Michigan-Flint, it is important to project a proper sense of decorum and respect through your interactions. Remember, you are representing the university and your department or program. In most cases, your personal identity will not be transparent. Be aware that your actions reflect directly on the university’s reputation. The guidelines below are excerpted and modified from the University of Michigan Communicators’ Forum Social Media Guidelines.
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.
No matter the social medium, make sure you are contributing valuable insights. Don’t post information about topics like UM-Flint 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-Flint. 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.
If you participate in or maintain a social media account 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 the university. Establish guidelines with your supervisor about when you are empowered to respond directly to users and when you may need approval. Visit socialmedia.org for general best practices on disclosure.
As an employee of UM-Flint, 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. Your reputation, and UM-Flint’s, are best served when you remain above the fray. Always pause and think before posting. That said, reply to comments in a timely manner, when a response is appropriate.
Make sure that 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.
Admit your mistakes.
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.
Assign an administrator who can regularly monitor postings and content on a regular basis. Aim for regular postings and updates. Recommended frequency may vary based on the platform. Also be sure not to inundate your audience with 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-Flint. Nor do you need to respond to every criticism. 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 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.
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.
What you write is ultimately your responsibility. Participation in social media on behalf of UM-Flint is not a right but an opportunity, so please treat it seriously and with respect. If you want to participate on behalf of the university, be sure to abide by its standard practice guidelines. Contact University Relations for more information. Please also follow the terms and conditions for any third-party sites.
Use common sense.
In short: use common sense, treat people well, report what you know, and be transparent and genuine.