Social Media Guidelines for Organizational Use

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, department, or unit, please take time to develop a social media strategy. 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 on behalf of a group, department, or unit.

Be confidential

Do not post or share confidential or proprietary information about Portland State University students, employees, or alumni. Respect University policies and federal requirements such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects students' personally identifiable information in educational records.

Own your content

As a representative of PSU, what you publish and share online 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 builds credibility. Also, review content for grammatical and spelling mistakes. If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly. Facebook's "edit" feature for example allows you to revise an original post.

Protect the PSU brand

The PSU logo cannot be modified or used for personal endorsements, and the PSU name cannot be used to promote a product, cause, political party, or candidate. When in doubt, please contact the office of University Communications.

Respect PSU

When on social media, always remain professional and in good taste, and protect PSU’s institutional voice. As a representative of the university, avoid pranks and postings that could be misinterpreted. Consult with your supervisor or the Office of University Communications if you are unsure. Respect university time and property — PSU computers and time on the job are reserved for University-related business.

Respect others

Social media sites are designed for two-way communication, and content contributed to a social media site may encourage comments or discussion of opposing ideas. As an administrator of a social media site, you can and should respond when relevant, but consider how your response may reflect on you, your department, and the University. If you are unsure about posting something or responding to a comment, ask your supervisor or refer to the comment policy and response flow chart.

Per PSU's social media comment policy, you may remove comments libelous or offensive by standards of the PSU community, but you are encouraged not to censor posts with which you personally disagree. Also, avoid criticizing other people and institutions. Doing so may alienate you from your audience, reflect poorly on PSU or escalate into a conflict.

Be human, be real

Build trust with your audience by communicating with 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 your tone. Instead, state your real intent and goals and let your personality shine.

One of the benefits of social media is that the individuals running sites on behalf of their department or unit help personalize large and complex institutions like PSU. Use your own "voice" and be real.

Remain transparent

Be honest about your identity. Because no individual departmental social media site represents all of PSU, clearly link pages, account names, images, and content to a particular department or unit within PSU. If you choose to post about PSU on your personal time, please identify yourself as a PSU student, faculty, or staff member. Never hide your identity for the purpose of promoting PSU through social media. Refer to the guidelines for personal and professional use for more information.

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.

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 with your audience with listening and responding.

Be thoughtful

Connecting to others on social media and online builds credibility and community but could also give the unintended impression that you or your group endorses a certain cause, group, or person. Consider carefully who you “friend,” “follow,” link to or allow into your site, and to what extent you will allow comments. Help the PSU community stay connected by linking back to the PSU homepage and other PSU social media sites. When possible, link to a PSU news source instead of an outside source.