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I. Introduction

These guidelines are intended to help Clark University faculty and staff who create and manage Clark department* social media presences or who run social media accounts in which they represent themselves as Clark faculty or staff professionals.

Because social media are constantly evolving, and related best practices can change too, Clark’s guidelines may change accordingly.

*Please note: Throughout the rest of these guidelines, we refer to “department” as a way of referencing department, program, office, and all other University administrative or academic units.

A. What are social media?

Social media include a variety of online tools and services that allow users to:

  • Create and share content.
  • Engage in social networking.
  • Interact with their audiences.

The social media that are most widely used for professional purposes include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

B. What is social media content?

In these guidelines, we define social media content as:

  • Words,
  • Images,
  • Videos,
  • GIFs,
  • Graphics,
  • Original posts,
  • Contributions to or comments on others’ posts, or
  • Sharing of others’ content.

C. Does your department have the time and resources to manage social media?

Social media are dynamic communication tools. Audiences expect frequent postings on the channels they follow. As a result, your department will need to invest time and resources into managing your social media channels.

We strongly advise departments seeking to maintain a social media presence to:

  • Follow these guidelines and best practices.
  • Assign a dedicated, full-time faculty or staff member to manage and oversee social media channels, with backup by at least one other full-time faculty or staff member.
  • Update social media channels with new content several times a week, and throughout the year.
  • Avoid relying on students to manage content and post to department social media accounts.

If you do not plan to post to your social media channel frequently, and if you do not have the full-time staff and resources to manage your social media and follow these guidelines and best practices, then we suggest that your department reconsider having a social media channel. In such cases, please reach out to Clark’s Office of Marketing and Communications to identify other ways in which to communicate with and inform your audiences, including websites, emails, news stories, press releases, announcements, web-based events calendars, and more.

II. Clark’s main social media channels

The Office of Marketing and Communications maintains the official Clark University presence on various social media channels, including Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Threads, Spotify, GIPHY, and Pinterest. Through these formal institutional channels, we communicate with and receive feedback from a wide range of audiences, including prospective students, current students, alumni, faculty, staff, families, peers, news media, and the general public.

You can see our most prominent channels on our feeds on the Clark home page and on Clark’s social media page.

III. Standards and policies for using Clark-affiliated social media channels

In this digital age, social media comments can reach many people rapidly, and far beyond a post’s original channel. When you are using social media, keep in mind that anything you post — including comments, responses, and “likes” — can be shared and stored by other social media users around the world.

Therefore, faculty and staff members who manage social media channels as representatives of Clark University are responsible for following all normal expectations and behavioral standards.

A. University policy

The laws, professional expectations, and guidelines for interacting with students, parents, alumni, donors, media, and other University constituents apply online as they do offline.

Because social media require use of the Internet, computers, and other devices, we advise that you review the Appropriate Use of Clark’s Information Technology System Policy for more information on Internet and computer/device usage at Clark.

B. Obligations to Clark University

It is important to remember that your department account is part of a greater whole that includes, for example, your reputation and that of your colleagues, department, and Clark. Out of mutual respect and responsibility, it is important to make sure all posts:

  • Follow these guidelines and best practices.
  • Are clearly professional in tone.
  • Are factually accurate in every regard.
  • Do not contradict, confuse, or misrepresent the voice, positions, or statements of the department.
  • Do not contradict, confuse, or misrepresent the voice, positions, or statements of the University.
  • Make explicit as necessary that posts do not represent the University as a whole.

Logos and Branding

Any and all logos or formal marks representing Clark University or its related operations (e.g., departments, programs) are governed by the University’s logo guidelines, which should be carefully followed. For related questions or guidance, contact the Office of Marketing and Communications.

C.     Responsibilities of department social media managers

Departments and offices should choose at least one faculty or staff member to be responsible for creating content, monitoring, managing, and updating the channel.

Department social media managers should:

  • Understand how to use the channel’s tools.
  • Know which privacy settings departments want to follow.
  • Establish a schedule and determine frequency of posting.
  • Review channel content.
  • Check the channel at least once daily.
  • Establish protocols for protecting passwords, managing accounts, and establishing a backup system so that if they are unavailable or leave Clark University, another staff member can access the account.
  • Manage and oversee any students contributing social media content (see below).

D. Student involvement in department social media channels

1. Requirements

Departments and offices are welcome to involve students in planning and creating content. However, such content should be overseen and reviewed by the department’s social media manager or backup social media manager.

We strongly advise against students’:

  • Serving as content managers.
  • Having access to social media account passwords.
  • Posting to Clark department social media channels. (Instead, posts created by students should be reviewed and posted by the department’s designated social media content manager: a staff or faculty member.)

2. Temporary student takeovers

Departments that follow best social media practices and these guidelines — and have dedicated social media managers who review and post to social media and oversee students contributing content — might consider scheduling a temporary student takeover of a social media channel such as Instagram.

Student takeovers are a way to prioritize short-term department social media goals that will benefit from direct student voices and perspectives.

However, keep in mind that:

  • Takeovers should be temporary (e.g., for a day or weekend).
  • The department’s social media manager should oversee the temporary student takeover.

Please reach out to Aviva Luttrell, Clark’s social media manager in the Office of Marketing and Communications, for guidance around temporary student takeovers.

IV. Guidelines for using personal social media channels

A. Not identifying as Clark

If you maintain a personal blog or presence on another social media channel, but there is no indication via text or photos that you represent Clark, you need not consult with the Office of Marketing and Communications or be concerned with these guidelines.

However, even if you are not identifying your Clark affiliation, if you are using Clark electronic resources to post to social media, you are expected to abide by the Policy for Appropriate Use of Clark’s Information Technology System.

B. Identifying as Clark

1. Guidelines and University policy

If your personal social media presence (your channel, or your posts on others’ channels) indicates your Clark affiliation, department, group, organization, or activity, then:

  • Your social media presence is reflecting your professional reputation.
  • Your social media presence is representing the University.
  • Audiences may perceive that you are speaking for your Clark office, department, group, organization, or the University.
  • We suggest that you include a disclaimer such as: “The views expressed here are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Clark University.”

Please note: If you are using Clark electronic resources to post to social media, you are expected to abide by the Policy for Appropriate Use of Clark’s Information Technology System.

2. Best practices

We maintain a list of best practices websites, that can guide you in using social media in ways to prevent you from inadvertently undermining your professional reputation or how your department or Clark is perceived.

V. Establishing your Clark social media presence

A. First steps

Before creating or expanding upon your professional social media presence as a representative of the University, please:

1. Discuss your intention to do so with your department chair or manager.

2. Contact Aviva Luttrell, Clark University’s social media manager in Clark’s Office of Marketing and Communications, who can help you with:

  • Creating and managing your social media account.
  • Creating your social media goals.
  • Selecting social media tools.
  • Building your social media plan.
  • Promoting your channel.
  • Expanding your social media presence.
  • Understanding University guidelines and policies.
  • Staying current on best practices.

B. Creating and managing department/office social media accounts

1. Your account name and social media handle

  • Use a general (not personal) Clark account/email address that can be continuously and easily accessed by those responsible in your department or office. If your department does not have a general email address, you may request one from Information Technology Services.
  • Create usernames and social media handles (public usernames for your social media account) that are accurate and searchable. For example, @clarkuniversityenglishdept is more descriptive and searchable than @cuenglish.
  • Use consistent usernames and handles across all social media channels to provide clarity, improve searchability, and increase ease of tagging for other users.Set up a Clark account for email and social media 

2. Creating passwords

3. Keeping records and establishing a backup system:

  • Establish protocols for maintaining and protecting your social media account information.
  • Keep records of your account information in case your social media manager becomes unavailable or leaves Clark University. If you don’t, you will not be able to make changes to the account or add posts to the social media channel.
  • Save your account information and passwords in a secure, central location for future reference, and update the password regularly for maximum security.
  • Ensure that your social media manager is not the only person in the department who knows the account’s username and password.
  • Assign and train a backup person who is familiar with the communications goals you have set for the channel.

4. Assigning administrators

C. Building and promoting your channel

1. Start small and build your channel before officially launching.

  • Create your channel and begin populating it with content for several weeks before announcing it broadly.
  • Share the link with a small group of people who can join or become followers and provide feedback. Doing so will allow you to become comfortable with maintaining the channel, work out any bugs, and develop a small audience before launching more widely.

2. Announce your launch, focusing on the audience that you are seeking.

  • Use more traditional means, such as email listservs, websites, and newsletters, to announce the official launch of your social media channel.
  • Briefly describe the focus of your channel and the kinds of information you plan to share and encourage people to like or follow it.
  • Cross-promote the channel through other University social media channels.
  • You may find that other opportunities for promotion include your departmental website and your email signature.

3. Connect to Clark’s main channels

To capitalize on the power of connectivity within social media and link to Clark’s social media channels, take the following steps:

  • On Facebook, “Like” or “Follow” the Clark University Facebook page.
  • On Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Threads, follow Clark University’s accounts.
  • Link to the Clark University website. Social media posts citing online content should link to content that resides within the Clark University web environment.
  • Create a Facebook event page and add Clark University as a host to increase visibility of any event you are hosting.

4. Monitor, measure, and be prepared to change.

  • Manage your channel regularly and track which content is most popular and best communicates your goals.
  • Depending on your analysis of this information, you may decide to emphasize certain types of content or turn your focus to another social media platform that might better communicate your messages to your intended audience.