Web Publishing at UNCW

UNCW Social Media Guidelines

Purpose

The purpose of this site is to set forth guidelines for the establishment, participation and presence of UNCW units on social media networks administered by UNCW staff and/or faculty and representing a campus unit in an official capacity.

These guidelines help UNCW effectively promote and share critical information from the university and assist campus units in creating and managing their respective departmental/unit accounts. For the purposes of this document, social media accounts are defined as those created or maintained by or on behalf of UNCW colleges, departments, units, programs, centers or entities.

These guidelines do not apply to non-university or personal social media accounts.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Standards for appropriate social media usage will continue to evolve as technology does. However, these guidelines apply to all current social media platforms and those that may become available. The Office of University Relations (OUR) has developed guidelines to help campus units effectively and appropriately represent UNCW’s brand.

These guidelines capture the collective wisdom of respected online and industry sources, adapted to our university culture. The guidelines should be considered binding for all university employees.

* External contractors and students are not permitted to post on behalf of university-recognized accounts. However, these entities are allowed to create content for the designated full-time UNCW employees to approve and post. *

Definitions

  • Social Media: Channels for social interaction using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques. The goal of social media is to use web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue. Social media platforms include but are not limited to online social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, podcasts, RSS feeds, video-sharing services such as YouTube and Vimeo, interactive geolocation services, and online collaborative information and publishing systems that are accessible to internal and external audiences (e.g., Wikis).

  • Departments and/or units: Includes UNCW colleges, departments, units, programs, centers and entities, as well as the designated university employees who have the approved authority to use social media as communications channels on behalf of a specific UNCW college, group, department, unit, program, center or entity.

  • University employee: All faculty and SHRA and EHRA employees, including those who are in assignments who are full-time, part-time, probationary, non-career status, adjunct, and temporary.

  • Students: Any person who is actively enrolled as a student and pursuing courses of study in the university. For purposes of these guidelines, employees who are enrolled in classes incidental to their employment are not considered “students.”

UNCW Social Media Account Types

There are two types of university-related social media accounts:

  • Institutional accounts: These represent the official university social media communication venues. Such accounts are created and managed by OUR administrators. No additional administrators outside OUR can be added without the written permission of the Chief Communications Officer (CCO) of UNCW or his/her designee.

  • University-recognized departmental/unit accounts: These represent university units and have full-time university employees assigned to post on the account. Administrators (defined as those assigned to post on the account) within the campus unit associated with a recognized account are responsible for the content, and it is the responsibility of the account administrator to oversee the content and to monitor responses to that content.

Procedures and Guidelines for University-Recognized Accounts

All departments and units must register their social media accounts through the university’s registration website.

  • New social media account registrations must be reviewed and approved by OUR, and existing accounts (predating these guidelines) must be registered even if they’re already active.

  • Once your account is approved, OUR will be able to cross-promote your account/content. Please reach out to OUR with any questions.

University-recognized social media accounts are listed publicly here. This allows users to network with other departments and units using social media tools and to leverage UNCW’s brand among recognized accounts.

Account Access

Social media account “administrators” are university employees who are authorized to be in possession of social media account log-in information and may post to the account they administer. It is to be understood that administrators are responsible for any content that appears on the accounts they administer.

All university-recognized accounts must have at least two UNCW employees as administrators, preferably to include the department chair or unit head, at all times to ensure adherence to these guidelines. Each platform’s log-in information must also be shared with the head of the department/unit. OUR must confirm this has occurred, through written confirmation from the administrator, before recognizing the account.

When an account administrator leaves the university or is no longer designated as an account administrator, it is the academic or administrative department’s responsibility to designate another UNCW employee as the account administrator and to update the site’s registration and list of account administrators. It is also the academic or administrative department’s responsibility to give notice to OUR that a change has been made. If there are any problems in identifying an administrator or deleting a social media account, contact OUR.

Content Oversight & Administration

All views and comments posted by administrators on university-recognized accounts are the responsibility of the account administrator and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNCW. UNCW students, faculty and staff acting in an individual capacity on personal social media accounts should exercise caution in their social media communications.

The university reserves the right to remove or cause the removal of any content on university-recognized accounts for any lawful reason, including, but not limited to, content that is deemed threatening, obscene, in violation of intellectual property rights or privacy laws, or otherwise inappropriate, offensive, injurious, illegal, or misaligned with the university’s mission.

Administrators and department chairs or unit heads are responsible for managing and monitoring the content of their respective university-recognized social media accounts, including the removal of content that may violate the social media’s respective terms and conditions. However, UNCW reserves the right to monitor/remove posts. The request for removal of such material may arrive at the direction of the Chancellor, Provost, dean, vice chancellor, Office of the General Counsel, a department head or the CCO or their designees.

The CCO or Deputy Director of OUR or his/her designee is responsible for administering these guidelines, as well as the Director of Web Communications and the Digital Communications Specialist in OUR. OUR staff manages the day-to-day application process, updates the official university social media directory as needed and is available to provide input, assistance and training on these guidelines and best practices.

Political Activities/Promotion of External Entities

University-recognized accounts cannot be used for purposes of political activities or statements. See the current UNCW political statement policy for more information.

University-recognized accounts cannot be used to identify, promote, endorse or commercially advertise the goods or services of non-university organizations or individuals without the approval of the CCO, as well as, in some cases, the university’s Licensing Office.

UNCW Policies and Guidelines Pertaining to Social Media

Employees are expected to adhere to the same standards of conduct online as they would in the workplace. Laws and policies regarding conflict of interest, as well as policies and guidelines for interacting with students, parents, alumni, donors, other university constituents, the public and the media, apply in a social media context just as they would with professional and personal interests. Employees are fully responsible for what they post to university-recognized social media platforms.

Employees should not express personal opinions on university-recognized accounts. The university name or marks may not be used to endorse any opinion, product, personal business, cause or political candidate/position.

While we enjoy providing a space in which Seahawks can share ideas and engage in robust and civil discussion, UNCW reserves the right to remove any comments that are unrelated to the particular post, constitute illegal harassment, or threaten violence; use obscene language or images; make false or defamatory accusations; contain spam or advertisements; or contain confidential personal information. Repeated violations of these guidelines, or behavior that substantially disrupts the maintenance of the page, could result in a user being blocked from the relevant social media page. Please refer to the Seahawk Respect Compact for more information about UNCW's expectations so that our social media pages are enjoyable for everyone. * Please also note that account administrators are not permitted to block users, or delete content on social media platforms, without consulting OUR. This may be considered a violation of freedom of expression law. *

All use of social media accounts shall comply with all state and federal laws, and university policies and regulations, including, but not limited to, those related to protections of confidential and proprietary information and conflicts of interest and commitment. University employees using social media must consult the following policies before opening a social media account.

Responsible Use of Information Technology Resources

“Information technology resources” means information owned or possessed by the university, or related to business of the university, regardless of form or location, and the hardware and software resources used to electronically store, process or transmit that information owned, leased or used by the university and its partners. This policy outlines responsibilities and the appropriate use of the university’s information technology resources and services.

Confidentiality and Privacy

Users shall respect the university’s, as well as their own, obligations of privacy and confidentiality.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA is federal legislation that restricts the type of information that universities can release from a student’s education record. Information considered "directory information" can be released. “Directory information” includes name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and dates of attendance.

University Logos and Photos

The elements outlined in the following policy represent the university's commitment to a unified brand identity that serves as a visual representation of our university's excellence -- while providing flexibility so campus units retain individuality within this strategy. These guidelines apply to all printed and electronic materials that represent the university to its constituents, both internally and externally.

Copyright and Intellectual Property

UNCW is committed to complying with all applicable laws regarding intellectual property. The UNCW Patent and Copyright Policies apply to all university employees, both full and part time, including faculty, EHRA and SHRA, other professionals exempt from the State Personnel Act, staff subject to the State Personnel Act, and students.

Harassment & Workplace Violence

The university promotes a learning, working, and social environment where all members of the campus community interact in a mutually respectful, professional, and fair manner. The university is committed to ensuring a workplace and academic environment free of unlawful discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct, as these behaviors may create a risk to health, safety or well-being, or cause serious emotional distress, loss of productivity and morale, and/or potential legal risks.

Accessibility

The university strives to provide content that is inclusive and meets applicable accessibility standards. Best practices for making social media posts more accessible include adding alternative text for images, optimizing text for use with screen readers and other assistive technology, adding captioning to videos, and adding visual contrast between backgrounds and captions. Social media managers should familiarize themselves with the accessibility resources set forth by the social media platform they are using. Below are the resource pages for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If a platform’s resources are deficient, your account is still bound to comply with all applicable accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, regardless of facilitation by the platform. Social media managers utilizing other social media platforms should review and utilize resources provided by those platforms not listed here:

UNCW Athletics

These guidelines adopt the current NCAA rules and guidelines regarding social media and requires that the UNCW Athletic Department adhere to the rules and any changes that may occur.

Privacy Concerns

Account administrators are required to maintain confidentiality of and refrain from posting confidential or proprietary information about the university, its students, its alumni or fellow employees.

UNCW Graphics for Social Media

The university has created a collection of icons that can be used and adapted for individual schools, colleges, programs and units. Please contact OUR for assistance in customizing these icons or using the official UNCW marks or any variation of them.

Social media icons can be added to email signatures and linked to a university-recognized social media account. Please contact OUR for guidance on the icons optimized for use in email signatures.

Social media accounts must adhere to the university’s brand guidelines as outlined in the Brand Identity Guide.

  • Only social media accounts registered on the UNCW social media directory may use or display the university’s name, marks, symbols, images and copyrights. Any usage of official UNCW logos on these accounts must be submitted in advance to OUR for approval.

  • Avatars, cover photos, and profile pictures must adhere to Brand Identity Guidelines. These graphics must adhere to the guidelines set forth in the Brand Identity Guide. If official UNCW logos are not used, departments/units must submit the proposed profile image/avatar for each account during the registration process for OUR to ensure that UNCW branding standards are upheld.

Links to Terms and Conditions for Various Social Media Platforms

Follow the terms of service and conditions of your chosen platforms. If a social media platform is not listed below, please seek out the terms and conditions that are provided for that platform. This is not a comprehensive list.

Emergency Situations

Only information shared by UNCW via institutional channels (campus email, institutional social media accounts, the homepage, e-mails and/or UNCW Alert) is considered official during emergency situations.

Social media administrators are expected to contact ad vendors to pause any social media advertisements/campaigns until an emergency situation has ceased.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the benefits of having a university-recognized social media account?
    • A recognized account will be listed on the UNCW Social Media Directory, to help drive users to the registered account, and will be designated as a UNCW-recognized account. It will allow for cross-promotion by the university in order to reach larger audiences. Administrators may have access to university-created and approved icons and social media designs that can be used and adapted for individual colleges, schools and programs.
  • Who should register?
    • Any UNCW college, department, group or program wishing to maintain a social media presence with a university affiliation. At least two UNCW employees must be registered as the account administrators for the purpose of identifying the account’s point person and to provide continuity in the event an employee departs from this role. It is recommended that the UNCW employee who intends to serve as one of the account’s administrators complete and submit the online application.
  • How long does it take to become recognized by UNCW once an employee has submitted a registration request?
    • 3-5 business days.
  • Should existing social media accounts be registered with the university?
    • Yes. In order to be officially recognized by the university, an account must be registered, even if it has been active for some time and/or predates these guidelines.
  • Does UNCW’s social media guidelines apply to my personal accounts on Facebook, Twitter, etc.?
    • These guidelines apply to accounts that represent departments, units or entities within the university in an official capacity. As with any public forum, university employees are responsible for their own statements.
    • As protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and by the N.C. Constitution, Sec. 14, Freedom of Speech and Press, each member of the university community has the right to freely express his/her views on any subject. However, in exercising these rights, the resources of the university cannot be used. Engagement in personal social media activities by university employees should be conducted independently of their university employment and at times when such activity does not interfere with employment obligations to the university.
    • OUR recommends employees use their best judgment and suggested best practices in using social media platforms and in accordance with user agreements governing usage of each social media platform. 

Best Practices for Social Media

  • Be accurate.
    • Make sure that you have all the facts before you post. It's better to verify information with a source first than to have to post a correction or retraction later. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible. If you make an error, consult with OUR to help guide you on how to proceed.
  • Be respectful.
    • You are more likely to be effective if you are constructive and respectful.
  • Consider your audiences.
    • When using a site that requires management through logging into one’s personal account (e.g. Facebook), it is imperative that care is taken to not unintentionally post personal opinions intended for personal use. In other words, users must be certain they aren’t posting personal content on a UNCW channel.
  • Think before you post.
    • Search engines can reveal posts years after the publication date. Comments can be forwarded or copied. Archival systems save information even if a post is deleted.

* The practices within this document will be coordinated and facilitated by OUR’s Director of Web Communications, OUR’s Digital Media Specialist and/or staff from departments and units deemed appropriate by the Chief Communications Officer. *

* Issued 2/9/2021 *