Search Google Appliance

Guiding Principles

Portland State University supports the use of social media by employees to connect with students, fellow faculty and staff, alumni, fans, colleagues and more. Social media tools enable the university to share what is happening on campus with the world and hear directly and immediately from our core audience about what is important to them. This "conversation" is what makes social media different from traditional forms of one-way institutional communication.

Before creating a social media site for a school/college, group, or unit, please take time to identify your marketing goals and audience. If you don’t have the time or resources to engage regularly, we do not recommend that you create one.

These principles provide guidance on how to run a social media site effectively, safely and within university guidelines. Here are our guiding principles:

Own your content

As a representative of PSU, what you write is ultimately your responsibility. Exercise common sense and don't forget that what you publish will be public for a long time – treat it with care and respect. Anything you post in your role as a PSU employee reflects on the institution.

Be accurate

Before posting, make sure you have all the facts by first verifying with a credible source. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible – doing this will build credibility.

Seek advice from those authorized for messages that might be perceived as the "voice" of the university or a school/college/unit.

Be human. Be real.

Build trust with your audience by communicating to them in an authentic voice. Your audience will more likely connect and relate to you if you engage with them genuinely. When promoting an event or a program, be careful about tone. Instead, state your real intent and goals and let your personality shine.

One of the great benefits of social media is that the individuals running the sites personalize large and complex institutions like PSU. Use your own "voice" and be real.

Know your audience

Who is following you? What do they tweet about? What are their interests? Use this knowledge when you are building an online persona for yourself or your unit. Engage your audience by asking questions and inviting them to participate. Extend a warm welcome even to those who may not be affiliated with PSU.

Think twice

Refrain from comments that can be interpreted as offensive, demeaning, inflammatory, etc. Keep an open mind and remember that your audience is comprised of varied opinions. Always pause and think before posting. Do not engage in arguments or debates with naysayers on your site. That said, reply to comments in a timely manner when a response is appropriate.

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. Check with your supervisor before making posts on sensitive subjects.

Be active

Success in social media requires diligent time and energy. Reconsider jumping into social media if you do not make time to check in on social media sites at least a few minutes each day and post fresh content several times a week.

Help build a community

The essence of community is the idea that it exists so you can support others and they, in turn, can support you. Balance talking at your audience with listening and responding.

Respect copyrights

Respect proprietary information and content, and confidentiality.


While it is important to welcome comments on your social media site, remember to always keep a vigilant eye open to filter spam posts, commercial products or services, and offensive comments in a timely manner. Remember to maintain a warm, open, and safe online community.

Bring value

Social media will pay dividends for you if you add value to your followers, readers, fans and users' experiences. What is it about your site that distinguishes it from others? What makes your site uniquely yours?