Social Media Standards
Why use Social Media as a university employee?
Social media applications have become a primary way to reach prospective students and the external community, as well as current students, staff, and faculty. As an employee, you can help tell the Illinois Springfield story through social media.
We want to use social media to engage our audiences and give them a good impression of the University of Illinois Springfield. We know that in many cases, a social media site may be the first place that someone learns about us. We hope that those audiences will subsequently visit the UIS website, come to campus for a Preview Day or other event, or otherwise get to know us better.
Setting up a Social Media account as a university employee:
It is better to ask for help, than to make a mistake that is hard to undo. For help with setting up a social media account, please contact the UIS Office of Web Services.
When setting up the name for your account, please be specific by using the name of your department or service. Do not use the name University of Illinois Springfield or UIS alone without also adding a specific reference to your purpose. For example, use UIS Biology for the name of your Facebook Page or Group.
- See our Guidelines for Using Facebook
- See more details about setting up social media accounts on the UIS Web Services website.
Tips on Using Social Media
Training in how to use Social Media application software
For specific training in how to use the settings and tools in particular social media software, contact the Information Technology Services department. They offer free workshops throughout the year. See the current workshop schedule.
Be responsible for what you say or write
Take responsibility for what you say or write on social media websites and applications. Exercise good judgment and common sense. You are representing the university, and there may be consequences if you do not handle this responsibility well. Please see the following policies regarding the use of computer technology at the University of Illinois Springfield:
- UIS Acceptable Use Policy
- Campus Web Policy
- University of Illinois Information Security Policy
- FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The UIS Office of Records and Registration offers classroom and online training to help faculty and staff understand the act and learn how to comply.
- The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, usually called the AP Stylebook, is a guide for grammar, punctuation and principles and practices of reporting. It also includes an overall legal review of legal issues and ethical expectations, including libel and slander.
When using social media as an employee, do not use pseudonyms or false screen names. Use your real name, be clear who you are, and identify that you work for Illinois Springfield. Do not say anything that is dishonest, untrue, or misleading. If you have a personal vested interest in something you are discussing, point it out. Be smart about protecting yourself and your privacy. The content you publish will be around for a long time, so consider it carefully and also be cautious about disclosing personal details.
Respect your audiences
The public in general, and Illinois Springfield’s employees and students, reflect a diverse set of customs, values and points of view – please be respectful of that. Don’t say anything contradictory or in conflict with the Illinois Springfield vision, mission and goals. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, but do so respectfully. This includes not only the obvious (no ethnic slurs, offensive comments, defamatory comments, personal insults, obscenity, etc.) but also proper consideration of privacy and of topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory – such as politics and religion. Be sure to make it clear that the views and opinions expressed are yours alone and do not represent the official views of UIS.
Don’t tell secrets
It’s perfectly acceptable to talk about your work and have a dialog with the community, but it’s not okay to publish confidential information. Confidential information includes things such as unpublished details about programs, services, financial information, grants, research, projects-in-progress, etc. that have not yet been finalized and publicized.
Protect your own privacy
Privacy settings on social media platforms should be set to allow anyone to see information that is publicly available by virtue of the fact that you are an employee of the State of Illinois and the University of Illinois. Other privacy settings that might allow others to see your personal information should be set to limited access. Be mindful of posting personal information about yourself that you do not want the public to see.
Respect copyright laws
It is critical that you show proper respect for the laws governing copyright and fair use or fair dealing of copyrighted material owned by others, including Illinois Springfield own copyrights and brands. You should never quote more than short excerpts of someone else’s work, and you should always attribute such work to the original author or source. It is good general practice to always link to others’ work rather than reproduce it.
Protect Illinois Springfield students, staff, faculty, and business partners
Specific individuals should not be cited or obviously referenced without their approval. Never identify a student, staff, faculty, or business partner by name without permission.
If you see misrepresentations made about the University of Illinois Springfield in the media, you may point that out. Always do so with respect and with the facts. If you speak about others, make sure what you say is factual and that it does not disparage that person. Avoid arguments. Brawls may earn traffic, but nobody wins in the end. Don’t try to settle scores or goad others into inflammatory debates. Make sure what you are saying is factually correct.
Be the first to respond to your own mistakes
If you make an error, be up front about your mistake and correct it quickly. If you choose to modify an earlier post, make it clear that you have done so. If someone accuses you of posting something improper (such as their copyrighted material or a defamatory comment about them), deal with it quickly – better to remove it immediately to lessen the possibility of a legal action.
Think about consequences
Consider what might happen if an Illinois Springfield employee makes disparaging comments about our university on a social media site. The comments might be reproduced throughout the internet or via other means. We might lose prospective students or employees, or our reputation may be permanently damaged. If you wish to talk about UIS on social media applications, please see our list of written descriptions, key words and phrases, and other documentation about UIS.
Wherever practical, you should use a disclaimer saying that while you work for Illinois Springfield, anything you publish is your personal opinion, and not necessarily the opinion of the University of Illinois Springfield.
The UIS Office of Web Services can provide you with applicable disclaimer language and assist with determining where and how to use that.
The following tips will contribute to your successful use of social media.
- If you set up a social media account for use by your department, be sure to inform your supervisor. Make logins and passwords available to other key staff in your department; or, add other key staff to the account. When you set up an account, you are agreeing to accept responsibility for monitoring the content, deleting spam, and generally assuring that the account represents UIS in the best possible light.
- Don’t duplicate what others have done; i.e., don’t set up a new Facebook account called University of Illinois Springfield. We already have one of those. Make an account that is specific to your department, academic subject, faculty or staff group, etc.
- Make sure that your use of social media does not interfere with your job or commitments to our students, staff and faculty.
- The best way to be interesting, stay out of trouble, and have fun is to write about what you know. If you write about topics you are not knowledgeable about, there is a good chance you will be embarrassed by a real expert.
- If you have doubts about a particular post, or if something does not feel right, either wait and look at it again before publishing, or ask someone else to review it.
- Quality matters. Use a spell-checker. Check your facts. If you need help with design or content, ask for help from the UIS Office of Web Services.