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General recommendations

Success in social media depends on several factors:
  • Understanding that social channels are conversations, not bullhorns
  • Being civil, honest, ethical and responsive
  • Remembering that nothing is private on the Web
Best practices

Listen. Spend time listening before you start posting. What issues are on the minds of the people you want to reach? How do they feel about your area? What do they like: Polls? Funny photos? The better you understand your audience, the more likely you are to post content that they will want to comment on or share.

Talk. Social media are unique because it’s the interaction–comments, likes, retweets–that makes the content valuable. Be conversational, ask questions, thank people, comment on other people’s posts. Your participation makes you valuable.

Be accurate. 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 later. If you see a question or complaint online, it’s fine to say that you’re getting more information and will reply shortly. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible; after all, that's how you build community.

If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly. This will earn you respect in the online community.

Be aware of your impact. Social media often span traditional boundaries between professional and personal relationships. If you’ve ever identified yourself as part of the DePaul community online, readers will associate you with the university, even if you are posting from your own account. Use privacy settings to restrict personal information on otherwise public sites. Choose profile photos and avatars carefully. Be thoughtful about the type of photos you upload.

Be calm. If you feel angry or passionate about a subject, don’t post until you calm down. Even if your settings are “private,” posts and comments can be found, copied and forwarded. Archival systems save information even if you delete a post. If you wouldn’t say it publicly, don’t say it online.

Be valued. Don't post information about topics like DePaul events or a book you've authored unless you are sure it will be of interest to people who belong to that group. Self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being banned.

Safe practices

Be yourself. Be honest about your identity. If you’re authorized by your supervisor to represent DePaul, say so. Never hide your identity or create a false identity for the purpose of promoting DePaul. It's both unethical and prohibited by the Acceptable Use Policy.

If you post about DePaul on your personal time, identify yourself as a DePaul faculty or staff member. Say that you’re sharing your views as a member of the higher education community, not as a formal representative of the university. Use a disclaimer on your site or profile similar to this: "The views expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of DePaul University."

If you blog or write online reviews, the Federal Trade Commission requires you to reveal if you have been compensated in any way–monetarily or in kind, such as a free copy of a book, dinner, or a complementary admission–or have a relationship to a company, product or service you review.

Be respectful. You are more likely to achieve your goals or sway others to your beliefs if you are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person. It’s Vincentian.

And, of course, the Acceptable Use Policy prohibits threats or harassment by using DePaul's computing resources to "transmit material or data that causes or encourages physical or intellectual abuse or that causes or encourages harassment, explicit or implied."

Maintain confidentiality. Don’t post confidential or proprietary information about DePaul, its students, its alumni or your fellow employees. Use good ethical judgment and follow university policies and federal requirements, such as FERPA, HIPPA and Health Information Security and Privacy. For a list of topics you should not discuss in any medium, refer to the Progressive Discipline Policy.

If you discuss a situation involving individuals on a social media site, be sure that they cannot be identified. As a guideline, don't post anything that you would not present at a conference.

Respect university time and property. As stated in the Acceptable Use Policy/Network Security, university computers and your work time are to be used for university-related educational and business purposes. It's appropriate to post at work if your comments are directly related to accomplishing work goals, such as seeking sources for information or working with others to resolve a problem. Limited personal use of computing resources is acceptable as long as it doesn't violate any policies, but for the most part, you should maintain your personal sites on your own time using non-DePaul computers.

Be aware of liability. You’re legally liable for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be proprietary, copyrighted, defamatory, libelous or obscene (as defined by the courts). Employers are increasingly conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending offers. Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you.

Obviously, using university computing resources to threaten or harass anyone is a violation of the Acceptable Use and the Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policies, which "forbids any unlawful harassment which includes any behavior (verbal, written, or physical) that abuses, assails, intimidates, demeans or victimizes or has the effect of creating a hostile environment for any person based on protected characteristics (i.e. race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, marital status, parental status, family relationship status, physical or mental disability, military status). " Violating any university policy while using social media can trigger consequences under the Progressive Discipline Policy.

Follow a code of ethics. There are numerous codes of ethics for bloggers and other active participants in social media, all of which will help you participate responsibly in online communities. If you have your own social media site, you may wish to post your own code of ethics.

For examples, see:
http://forrester.typepad.com/charleneli/2004/11/blogging_policy.html
http://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/000215.php
If you post for DePaul

 
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