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Social Media Standards - University Branding

The purpose of the Tarleton State University Social Media Standards is to provide guidance for the university community on the use of Social Media tools for official business, consistent with The Texas A&M University System Social Media Guidelines and the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) Social Media Policy.

The Office of Marketing and Communications wishing to assist the university community in effectively representing the various colleges, departments, programs and offices in social media.

Tarleton has the responsibility to ensure that official communications, including social media messages representing university units, reflect the mission, vision and core values of the university.  In order to assure that the university has the ability to uphold its responsibility for what is posted on university public social media, the responsible unit must have two administrators with full access to the account.  The names and contact information for the administrators should be submitted to the Office of Marketing and Communications.

Anyone wishing to create a new social media account on behalf of the university or any of its units must fill out the social media account request form. The names of the two unit administrators will be required.  If the initiator does not have a second administrator, Marketing and Communications may be the co-administrator. Marketing and Communications may be listed as an administrator on any Facebook account by adding “Tarleton Social Media” (socialmedia@tarleton.edu). 

The public social media requirement does not apply to academic instructional social media limited to class groups.  Such groups should be established as closed pages limited to enrolled participants.  Officially recognized student organizations, as university representatives, should follow the same standards.  For assistance, they may contact socialmedia@tarleton.edu.

Tarleton maintains a social media directory web page to list social media maintained by colleges, divisions, departments, offices or other university entities:  http://www.tarleton.edu/bleedpurple/socialmedia.html.  Only social media registered with Marketing and Communications will be listed on this web page. Changes in URL must be sent to Marketing and Communications in order to keep the directory current.  Social media conforming to university standards also will be featured on unit web pages.

Employee Social Media Use and Engagement Guidelines

Tarleton recognizes the importance and benefits of communicating through social media. Social media is a powerful vehicle through which Tarleton entities may disseminate relevant news, listen to constituent voices and connect with our audiences online.

These are official guidelines for participating and engaging in social media on behalf of or as a representative of Tarleton State University and any of its entities. The standards apply to Tarleton employees and contractors creating or contributing to blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds or any other externally facing (public internet) social media community as part of their work for Tarleton.

These guidelines do not apply to faculty use of social media for instructional purposes, including social media created for class groups or projects.  Social media for internal audiences should be listed as a private group and will not be linked to the Tarleton website.

Tarleton requires those who participate in social media on its behalf to (1) understand the technology they are using and (2) abide by the following principles and engagement guidelines.

Failure to do so may damage the university’s reputation and standing and may result in consequences for the responsible employee or contractor. Tarleton social media participants also have an obligation to stay abreast of changes to official guidelines as new technologies and social networking tools emerge that may require changes to these guidelines.

Summary of Basic Principles

  • Support Tarleton’s mission, vision and core values within the context of the social media.
  • Have a clear plan, strategy, goals and defined social media responsibilities before engaging in social media.
  • Be responsible for continuous monitoring, maintenance and timely response.
  • Add value with unique, strategic information and commentary about Tarleton and its entities.
  • Be transparent, and avoid misrepresentation.
  • Write about what you know, and stick to your area of expertise when commenting.
  • Be a team player in reporting developments and sharing findings internally across units.
  • Post meaningful, respectful comments — no spam, off-topic or unprofessional remarks.
  • Always pause and think before posting, and consult with a manager or expert if unsure.
  • If you make a mistake, admit it — and be upfront and quick with your correction.
  • Respect confidentiality of all participants, and never disclose student information.
  • Respect copyright laws and give credit to sources of written content, images and ideas you reference or use.
  • Handle negative comments and developments quickly, professionally and strategically. Keep the conversation brief and don’t engage in an argument.
  • Always use proper grammar and write clearly. Follow Tarleton’s writing style guidelines posted on the Marketing and Communications web page.
  • Know and follow Tarleton policies on computing, information, conduct and technology.

Engagement Guidelines

Plan to ensure strategic and sustainable engagement. The decision to use Social Media tools is a business decision based on an institution or unit’s specific needs and the appropriate scope of its use. Before starting a social media program, consult with Marketing and Communications on strategy to ensure that the proposed program not only supports Tarleton’s and your unit’s strategic plans and objectives, but is also sustainable.

Before starting a social media program on behalf of any Tarleton entity, an employee must have authorization from his or her unit or division supervisor.  The administrator must either list Marketing and Communications as an added administrator (Tarleton Social Media, socialmedia@tarleton.edu) or provide Marketing and Communications with the name and contact information for at least two administrators for the site from within the unit.  Changes in administrators or in urls must be conveyed to Marketing and Communications.  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram unit accounts must be linked to a departmental email, not a personal email.

Be clear and professional. Employees that are designated to represent Tarleton and its units on social media sites must maintain a high level of ethical conduct and professional decorum. Individuals authorized to post on Tarleton social media sites shall present information that is accurate, relevant and factual. It should also follow professional standards for grammar, spelling and clarity.

Follow the Tarleton editorial and brand style. All departments, programs and individuals using social media should abide by official university standards for branding, graphics and written communications. Use of Tarleton’s official logo is not permissible as a profile photo or on a blog unless express permission is granted by the Marketing and Communications.

Social Media Icons: Tarleton has a set of approved icons for official university public sites. Those icons may be viewed on the Social Media Examples page.

Individual units may develop additional icons, with support from Marketing and Communications.  Icons may not distort, alter, or cover up any extant university logo.

Cover photos for Twitter and Facebook should be of high quality and represent the department.  Creative Services maintains a file of university photos which may be used.  Creative Services also can create a Tarleton logo with the unit name underneath.  All representations must comply with university graphic design standards.

Respect copyright law. Obtain permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material such as original works of authorship including videos and images or literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. Provide a link to the original material if possible.

Abide by all applicable university policies, and respect university time and property. Tarleton employees must follow Tarleton policies related to ethics, privacy and employee behavior when posting to Tarleton social media sites. University computers and individual work time are to be used only for university-related business, which may include social media management as related to individual or unit work goals. Comply with all applicable institutional policies including Acceptable Computing Usage and Information Security, and stay abreast of emerging new policies governing faculty & staff profiles and personal websites.

Actively maintain social media programs and constituent engagement. Tarleton expects employees and contractors engaging in social media on its behalf to ensure that content is kept current, posts are made consistently and responses are timely. Any Tarleton social media sites with no activity for 30 days during the academic year and 90 days at any time should be inactivated and are subject to inactivation by Marketing and Communications. Methodical monitoring and assessment, together with active management, is a requirement for engaging in social media successfully and productively on behalf of Tarleton and any of its entities.

Act judiciously to protect privacy, confidentiality and reputation. Tarleton employees must recognize that content and messages posted on social media are public, official communications. Employees may not use either institutional social media accounts or their own personal social media accounts to reveal confidential information obtained through their official responsibilities as a Tarleton employee.

Individuals authorized to post official Tarleton information on social media sites shall not:

  • post information directly related to ongoing investigations, negotiations and/or matters that are confidential or privileged by law;
  • lobby or post politically partisan comments;
  • imply or post information that would give an ordinary member of the public the impression that the communication represents the views or positions of Tarleton unless expressly authorized to do so;
  • impede Tarleton’s general performance and operations or affect working relationships necessary to the proper functioning of Tarleton and its entities;
  • endorse any product, vendor or site unless given permission to do so.

Note: Do not disclose student information. Abide by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This is especially important in dealing with students who post questions online about their educational circumstances (e.g. "Did my credits transfer?"). Ask the student for a private conversation or to contact you directly through university e-mail channels.

Be transparent, and avoid inadvertent misrepresentation. Employees or contactors blogging on behalf of Tarleton must use real names, identify their affiliation, be clear about their role and relationship to the university and comply with all disclosure laws. When commenting on social media on behalf of any Tarleton entity, the Federal Trade Commission requires disclosure of an employee’s affiliation. When interacting with people online, an employee or contractor should clearly state his or her role in the account. Have clear responsibilities outlined for when employees are empowered to respond directly to users and when prior approval is necessary. This is the ethical thing to do, and there may be personal liability consequences under Federal Trade Commission regulations if the employee doesn’t comply.

Note to Tarleton employees using their own personal social media sites: Make it clear that the views expressed are yours. Recognize that effective social engagement depends upon transparency. Your honesty —or dishonesty — will be quickly noticed in the social media environment, and your credibility — and that of the university — will be at stake. If you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, be the first to point it out. Write in the first person, and if you maintain a personal blog or website and write opinion pieces about Tarleton or its entities, use a disclaimer, such as "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent the positions, strategies or opinions of Tarleton State University.”

When in doubt, ask. If you have any questions about what is appropriate, check with Marketing and Communications or direct questions to socialmedia@tarleton.edu before posting.

Courtnie Ridgway, Digital Media Strategist
Phone: 254-968-9076
ridgway@tarleton.edu

Legal Issues and Requirements

Accessibility

Tarleton is committed to providing an online presence that enables full public access to its information and services. The Tarleton accessibility statement may be found here: www.tarleton.edu/accessibility/.

To accommodate users with disabilities, here are the suggested alternative access sites for these social media channels:

Facebook

The Facebook mobile site http://m.facebook.com is a suggested accessible alternative to the original Facebook page. Please also reference Facebook’s help page for Accessibility for People with Disabilities for more information.

Flickr

The mobile version of Flickr http://m.flickr.com/ is the suggested alternative to access the original Flickr page.

Google +

Please reference the accessibility features of Google products for more information.

Instagram

As Instagram is owned by Facebook, please reference Facebook’s help page for Accessibility for People with Disabilities.

Twitter

The accessible version of Twitter  www.accessibletwitter.com is the suggested alternative access to the original Twitter profile.

YouTube

Tarleton will make an effort to link to and display videos on its YouTube channel that have closed captioning available for hearing impaired viewers. For more information about the closed captioning feature on YouTube, visit: http://www.youtube.com/t/captions_about       

Intellectual Property Rights and Ownership

Intellectual property rights of content provided by the public will be governed by federal copyright law, the terms of service of the social media provider, and the copyright policies of Tarleton and The Texas A&M University System. Please reference the Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice and contact information should you need to report a copyright issue.

Any trademarks that appear on Tarleton social media sites are the property of their respective owners who may or may not be affiliated with, connected to or sponsored by Tarleton. Please refer to the Tarleton trademark requirements for information before using any Tarleton logo.

Linking/Third-Party Websites

Tarleton may make available social media applications, and may publish social media content to third-party sites. These sites are not official web sites and therefore, the external sites guidelines apply. For more information on Linking, please visit the Web Site Link Policy page.

Moderation

All published social media content may be subject to monitoring. This content may take the form of digital text, photography images and videos. User-generated posts may be rejected or removed when the content of a post:

  • violates the terms of service that governs the social media sites;
  • contains personal identifying information or sensitive personal information, as defined in Tex. Code Bus & Com. Sec. 521.001 et. seq.;
  • contains offensive terms that target protected classes;
  • is threatening, harassing or discriminatory;
  • incites or promotes violence or illegal activities;
  • contains information that reasonably could compromise public safety;
  • advertises or promotes a non-affiliated commercial product or service, or any entity or individual
  • promotes or endorses political campaigns or candidates; or
  • violates a trademark, copyright or other law.

Privacy

Tarleton State University and its employees are permitted to only post public information on social media sites. If communication that takes place on Tarleton sites involves or requires private information, communication will be redirected through other appropriate channels. Postings from the public on Tarleton social media sites become public record and may be shared on Tarleton websites. This information may be subject to public information requests.

Tarleton is not responsible for content posted by others to its social media sites. Users that enter personal information on its social media sites do so at their own risk. Tarleton is not responsible for the public display of such private information. Tarleton may remove postings to its social media sites that contain personally identifiable information, but neither the university, the A&M System, nor its licensors or contractors are responsible for any damages caused by delays in such removal.

Public Information Act (Public Information Act, Texas Government Code Chapter 552) and Record Retention

Social media sites may contain communications sent to or received by state employees, and such communications are therefore public records subject to State Records Retention requirements. These retention requirements apply regardless of the form of the record (digital text, photos, audio, or video, for example). Tarleton will put forth reasonable efforts to archive copies of social media content in order to meet State records retention obligations in accordance with the DIR Records Retention Schedule.

Terms of Service

Social media sites are third party sites and have terms of service and policies that are not governed by Tarleton. These third-party sites are not official Tarleton web sites and the third-party’s website terms of service and policies apply. Services provided by us on third-party social networking services, communication services or media sharing services may be discontinued at any time without prior notice. The terms of service for the social media sites can be found below: