Social media is one of the easiest ways to connect with people in your social circle, across the country, and even worldwide. It’s easy to get started, get engaged, and start meeting new people. This can mean connecting with students, alumni and colleagues or stumbling across internet trolls who want to interrupt the flow of conversation and distort your message. As a college, we’re invested in productive, stimulating, and open communication and conversation on all levels, including social media.
With that in mind, Cornell College is setting out some guidelines to assist with the use of different social media networks as they continue to grow in popularity. These guidelines help establish some ground rules for faculty, staff, and students creating and using social media sites in the name of Cornell College.
What should we (as a college) post on social media?
Cornell College strives to maintain a strong presence on social media to keep students engaged in their education, to interest prospective students in the college, to share research and knowledge in the world of higher education, to promote long-lasting relationships with alumni, and to inform the public about events on campus and information they need to know.
Who owns social media that is associated with Cornell?
Technically, all social channels at the college should be vetted through the Office of Marketing and Communications (OMC). This doesn’t mean we want to keep you from communicating directly with your audience and managing your own social channels, but we do want to be aware of the accounts you create and we have a few expectations of Cornell accounts.
Who should have a social media account of their own?
That depends on how much you have to say and how many people you think you can get to follow you. Unfortunately, you need to post often and engage people or your efforts to do any good on most social channels (or even show up in followers’ feeds). Can you get 100+ people to follow you right away? Will you post at least once a day, every day? Or at minimum of 3x/week? Then you might want to consider creating your own Facebook or Twitter.
Who should hang back and work with OMC to get their word out?
If you know you’re just not going to be able to keep up a rigorous posting schedule, it’s not worth creating stress for you or your work study staff. You can work with OMC when you have news or events to get them posted and engage the larger Cornell audience where we dedicate time and effort to recruiting followers and keeping a strong content stream so that we stay in people’s feeds. And if you have a super-star work study to represent you, there are options for them to work directly with us on a posting schedule.
What are the procedures for creating a college-related social media page?
If you’d like to create a page on behalf of a campus organization, department, or program, contact Jill Hawk at firstname.lastname@example.org with information about what type of account you are considering, a proposed title for the page that includes the name “Cornell College,” a paragraph to describe the group or department, and the names of those who will administer the account. Cornell recommends at least two administrators of the social media account, if not more.
The Office of Marketing and Communications will help you get started and explain the expectations of having a Cornell College account. Keep in mind that having an active social media account is very important—even when classes are not in session.
We expect account activity of:
- Facebook - three times per week and a maximum of three times per day
- Instagram - at least three times a week
- Twitter - at least once a day
- YouTube - there is an official Cornell College YouTube channel and we would be happy to create a playlist for your approved videos.
- Flickr - there is one official Cornell College Flickr account and we are open to including your album there if you have high-quality photos.
- Snapchat - Cornell has one official Snapchat channel that we would love your help building up. Let us know if you have content ideas.
What are the expectations for posting on social media on behalf of Cornell College?
It’s our responsibility as a liberal arts college to educate and keep positive relationships with every member of our community. With that in mind, we want those representing Cornell to consider a few ideas as you post on college-related accounts.
- Be kind
- If you wouldn’t say it to someone in person, don’t say it online
- If you see something on social media that violates campus policy, please report it to Jill Hawk (email@example.com) and Jen Visser (firstname.lastname@example.org) (see campus policy section below)
- Don’t use abusive or racist language (See rule #1)
- Allow others to fairly share thoughts and opinions (See rule #1)
- Correct mistakes such as typos and incorrect statements
- Be accurate about the facts and show off your liberal arts research & reasoning skills
- Have fun!
Note: If you are posting from a private page about a Cornell matter and administer a Cornell-related page, we encourage you to disclose that the posting does not represent Cornell’s views.
What type of content should be posted on Cornell-related social media pages?
- Photos and video content grab the most attention. Researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s desire to continue reading a post by 80%.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your audience to contribute to your visual content.
- Use infographics to share complex information.
- Photos and videos of children should not be posted without consent from the parents. Even then, those photos should be mostly avoided.
- Verbally ask people for permission before posting photos or videos on social media. If they object, don’t use that content.
- Don’t post alcohol, nudity, medical and hospital patients, and graphic scenes when posting on Cornell-related social media pages.
- Give credit to the original owner of any photo or video if their content isn’t your original content, unless the content is created as part of a work study job.
What to do if you see a troll misbehaving on a Cornell social media channel?
- Don’t engage the argument - it’s so tempting to point out when someone is doing something we disagree with, but it never works out. Tell your cat or pillow your opinion instead, then avert your eyes until it’s over.
- Respond quickly and positively in the public social media space to acknowledge the comment, but don’t give the troll more attention than that.
- Create a policy - find some talking points to use as prepared responses and clearly state in your “about” section what types of comments are allowed on the page. (See commenting policy below)
- Counter inaccurate information with factual information if you are the official spokesperson - express no attitude or judgement, and let it go after that.
- Contact OMC if you aren’t the official spokesperson - screen capture or grab the url of the post and email it to email@example.com. We will follow up ourselves or with the appropriate social channel owner.
- Ask for contact information—if the troll really wants to be heard, he/she will want you to hear the full story. Otherwise, it will likely diffuse the situation.
- Keep a record of the conversation by screen capturing the wording, especially if you are forced to take actions such as banning the user or deleting comments.
What are our expectations of the public on social media?
Cornell College reserves the right to block users, delete a post, or restrict access to a page if the following guidelines are not followed:
- Do not attack someone personally
- Do not use curse words, racist words, or abusive language
- Be accurate and truthful in every post Share your opinions in a thoughtful manner by asking questions and encouraging conversation
- Do not advertise on any Cornell College page without approval
What happens if something is in violation of campus policy?
If activity on a social networking site is reported as violating campus policy as outlined in the Compass student handbook section on Judicial Procedures, it will be investigated and handled according to the college disciplinary process. Faculty are guided in their roles as members and representatives of the campus community by the Personnel Policies: Academic Freedom section of the Faculty Handbook. All employees have also agreed to a statement of ethical conduct while working at Cornell College. It can be found on page 32 of the employee handbook.
What about the rules of copyright?
Be aware that intellectual property may be protected by copyright. Newer copyright statements allow creative but non-commercial uses. One Website that provides content (including music and images) that may be used in this way is www.creativecommons.org.
Which is better: Groups or pages on Facebook?
Pages, rather than groups, are the preferred method of creating a Facebook presence. Pages have more flexibility, are easier to brand, and allow a greater number of features, including showing up on Facebook homepage news feeds. Pages were specifically designed for organizations, and should be used as such to represent Cornell.
Note: Groups might be used for alumni communication or student organizations that only wish to communicate among a small number of members, but OMC only suggests creating these if you can delete them when the group page has served its purpose. We don’t want groups floating around unattended.
How will OMC use social media in an emergency situation?
In the event of an emergency situation on campus, OMC staff will work to quickly get information on social media to inform students, parents, faculty, staff, and the community. As soon as the situation is safe, college staff will use Facebook as the main platform to share these messages.
Cornell College Social Media Accounts