Current and prospective students, alumni, staff, faculty, and friends utilize Carleton’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn to stay connected. Having a presence in these areas helps Carleton raise its visibility and connect with our external audiences. In order to operate within social media effectively, the Office of College Communications has developed a set of guidelines to support interactions on behalf of Carleton.
Faculty or staff members who manage social media as representatives of Carleton are responsible for following all normal expectations for professional behavior. Social media postings, including comments and responses, can be stored by and shared with millions around the world.
For more information on Internet and computer usage at Carleton, view the Academic User Agreement. In particular, please review the text at the bottom of that page, which states, in part: “Your use of the Carleton computer network must comply with all federal, Minnesota, and other applicable law; all applicable contracts and licenses; and College policies as articulated in the Campus Handbook.”
It is important to note that applications developed for any mobile devices (e.g., smartphones and tablet computers) that use the College’s name, wordmark, or other institutionally identifiable information should meet the standards set forth in the Academic User Agreement and these guidelines, as well.
Before You Begin
An effective social media presence requires careful planning. When creating a Carleton social media account, consider the following guidelines:
Understand the time commitment.
First and foremost, consider whether you have the staff time and resources necessary to maintain an effective social media presence, produce fresh content regularly, and monitor responses. It takes a great deal of time to effectively maintain a social media site. To keep a robust social media presence and engage with your followers, we recommend that you post 1 to 2 times per day on Facebook and 3 to 4 times per day on Twitter. At minimum, we recommend posting a few times per week on your social media channels. Best practices include having at least two platform managers who are well versed in the communication goals of the channel.
Establish goals and objectives.
What do you want to accomplish by having a presence on social media? What are your goals? How will social media help achieve them? How will you track your successes and progress?
Identify your audience.
Who is your audience and what issues are important to them? What content will they respond to? The better you understand your audience, the more likely you are to provide meaningful and appropriate content.
Select an appropriate name.
It should be clear to your audience that the account represents a specific department or office at Carleton. For example, the Twitter handle for Carleton Football is, appropriately, @CarletonFB.
Let us know about your account.
All Carleton-related social media accounts should be registered with the Office of College Communications. This is to ensure that someone in our office has access to all accounts that are owned by the College. Further, if an employee leaves the College, we maintain access to these accounts. This can also prove helpful if your account is hacked and the owner isn’t available to change the password. To register your account, contact Emilee Renwick.
Determine what type of content you will produce and how often you will update it.
Represent your department, class, or organization.
Post content that is in line with your initiatives and with the College’s overall mission. Write in a manner that represents your whole unit. Use we, our, and other inclusive words.
Have a conversation.
It’s the interaction—comments, shares, retweets—that makes social media valuable. Provide content that encourages feedback. Ask questions and reply to posts in a timely matter.
Include photos and videos.
Visual content increases the level of engagement with your audience and the likelihood that another user will share the content on his or her page.
Connect users with resources.
When appropriate, drive traffic to the College by linking to content on the Carleton website.
Customize posts for the social media outlet you are using.
It is fine to post about the same topic on multiple outlets, but you should tailor the content for the audience. Mix it up. Alter the posts to avoid repetition. Do not link status updates to post automatically from one social media account to another. On Twitter, you may chose to advertise an event with a very brief description and link, whereas on Facebook you may want to provide detailed information about the event along with a photo. See examples below.
- Twitter: Students @CarletonCollege sponsoring soccer equipment, school supply drive to benefit Ugandan groups http://ow.ly/iAW2L
- Facebook: Goals with Soul, a Carleton College student-led organization, will be holding a soccer equipment drive and raffle auction on March 12-14 to benefit two non-profit Uganda-based organizations, S.O.U.L. Uganda and Soccer Without Borders. Donations can be dropped of at Carleton’s Sayles-Hill Campus Center from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. each day. (Event photo)
Social media works when you are generous. There is nothing wrong with self-promotion, but things really take off when you give others praise or a moment in the spotlight. Retweet as often as possible, provided the content relates back to your goals. For example, if someone says how much he or she loves your program, retweet it.
Double-check everything for accuracy before you post. If someone posts a question or a complaint online, don’t ignore it, even if it’s only to say that you’re getting more information and will reply shortly. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible in an effort to build community.
If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly. Posts often include timestamps and users will be able to see how quickly you respond.
We encourage you to interact and collaborate with other Carleton social media groups. Visit our Social Media Directory to familiarize yourself with campus social media groups and to register your account.
Promote your account.
Use traditional means to promote your new account(s): email listservs, newsletters, and websites. Also make sure you notify College Communications when you establish a new channel; we will give it visibility when you share engaging content via @CarletonCollege.
Per College policy, don’t post confidential or proprietary information about Carleton, its students, alumni, or employees. Use good judgment and follow College policies and federal requirements.
Handling Negative or Critical Posts
Responding to negative posts.
If you receive negative feedback or critical posts, address the user’s concerns in a positive manner. Responding respectfully will indicate your willingness to rectify any problems and demonstrate that Carleton values others’ opinions—even if they are contrary.
Sometimes no action is the best action.
On occasion, people direct their frustration with the world toward you and your social media account. If you’re dealing with such a person, it may be better to take a passive role rather than fanning the fire. Invest your time and efforts instead where you can have a positive result.
Depending on the severity of a negative post and the platform, you may choose to delete the comment or simply hide it. Deleting a comment will completely remove the post from your timeline and Facebook. Hiding a comment will hide it from your timeline and fans, but the comment will be visible to the person who posted it and his or her friends. *Note: posts containing personal attacks, nudity, discriminatory language or images, or illegal material should be deleted promptly.
Not sure how to respond?
Please contact Emilee Renwick, Carleton’s news and social media manager, for assistance.
Remember that a successful social media account takes time to maintain and requires regular and timely updates. Inactive social media accounts reflect negatively on the college. College Communications may request that inactive accounts be taken down.
If you have questions about maintaining your social media account, how to increase engagement or any other questions about social media, please contact Emilee Renwick for assistance.