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Social Media Best Practices

University social media platforms allow you to share knowledge, express your creativity and connect with others who share your interests. FSU supports your participation in these online communities, subject to these social media standards and compliance with any applicable federal or state laws and university policies. Because social media is such a rapidly changing medium, please understand that these guidelines are subject to change without prior notice. We will do our best to keep them up-to-date.

The key to social media is to be a valued community member. This entails:

• Being honest and transparent about your identity (use your real name, disclose your relationship with the university and state your purpose on the site).

• Being respectful of other community members (this includes being civil at all times, even when expressing disagreement, and refraining from vulgar, discriminatory or otherwise inappropriate language).

• Providing valuable, accurate, timely and relevant content.

Additional rules, applicable standards and regulations governing use of university social media are as follows:

For Official Sites, Have A Plan: Consider your messages, audiences, and goals, as well as a strategy for staffing (including during vacations) and keeping information on social media sites up-to-date, before launching an official social media presence for your FSU unit. This could include a content plan for the types of posts you will make in the first weeks or months after the site is launched. Best practices vary depending on the social media environment in question, but typically a volume of 8-15 posts per month is sufficient to maintain interest, but avoids overwhelming "fans" or "followers."

Consider carefully who you will "friend" or "follow" in social media to avoid creating the impression that the university endorses a particular individual, cause, or organization. Plan in advance to what extent you will allow comments from other users on your site (this will depend on the goals you have set for your social media efforts) and how you will respond if users make critical or objectionable posts or comments.

Because of the need for transparency to build credibility in social media, FSU suggests that posts which are critical but not offensive should generally not be censored. However, comments that are libelous or offensive by the standards of our community, such as posts that are racist or obscene, or that consist of a "spam" advertisement or otherwise violate the information technology users' privileges and responsibilities document's guidelines for commercial use of university platforms, should be removed.

Be Responsive: Respond to questions and concerns brought to your attention in a timely manner. If you do not know the answer, be upfront about that and try to provide information that can help point the user in the right direction. If you need additional time to find the appropriate response, send an initial response indicating that you are looking into it and will respond with more information when you know it.

When you are deciding how to handle comments on your site, consider that most people who maintain social media sites welcome comments because they build credibility and community. However, you can set your site so that you can review and approve comments before they appear. This allows you to delete spam comments and to block any individuals who repeatedly post offensive or frivolous material.

Be Accurate: Take the time to ensure that you have all the facts before you post. Mistakes do happen, however, so if you post an error, correct it in a timely and public manner. This will earn you respect in the online community.

Be Fair: Cite and link to your sources whenever possible.

Be Insightful: When you join an online conversation, make sure that you are contributing valuable insights. Don't post self-promotional material unless you are absolutely sure that it will be of interest to the rest of the community. Self-promotion is often seen as spam, which is not the perception you want to portray to the community.

Be Respectful: It's okay to disagree, but refrain from using this space to attack others' ideas. Offering constructive criticism is a good way to sway others' opinions and promote your view.

Use Discretion: Don't rely on privacy settings to safeguard your content. These tools are meant for sharing and, therefore, tend to default to open privacy settings. Furthermore, settings and privileges are subject to change. Search engines can turn up posts years after the publication date. Comments that were visible only to a select group of friends can be forwarded or copied and archival systems are in place to store posts long after they are top-of-site and therefore top-of-mind. Some programs even store posts that have been deleted. Before you post anything, decide if it's something that you will be proud to be associated with down the road.

Be Honest: Never pretend to be someone else and post about FSU. Tracking tools enable supposedly anonymous posts to be traced back to their authors. There have been several high-profile and embarrassing cases of company executives anonymously posting about their own organizations.

Maintain Confidentiality: Protect confidential and proprietary information by refraining from posting it. Make wise decisions about what content is acceptable to post. Note that all postings to university social media are likely to be considered "public records" under North Carolina's Public Records Act.

Be Aware of Liability: You are legally liable for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be proprietary, copyrighted, defamatory, libelous or obscene (as defined by the courts). Employers are increasingly conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending offers. Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you. Be mindful that inappropriate social media usage can be grounds for disciplinary action.

Abide by University Policies: When you create, administer or interact with a FSU social media, you are subject to the university's use of computer resources policy found at ( and all other applicable university policies.

Potential Consequences: Violation of law, university policy and/or improperly disclosing another person's information in connection with use of social media can have serious ramifications, so please be aware of the potential consequences before you post.

Some potential consequences include: defamation lawsuit; copyright, patent or trademark infringement claims; privacy or human rights complaint; workplace grievance; criminal charges, especially with respect to obscene or hate materials; damage to the university's reputation and business interests; campus discipline, up to and including expulsion (students); work-related discipline, up to and including termination (employees) and exclusion from university social media.

Removal of Certain Content From University Social Media: In addition to whatever sanctions may apply through application of university policies, the university reserves the right to remove, but is not obligated to remove, any postings, comments or other content that it determines to be in violation of any law; that contains unauthorized commercial solicitations (such as spam); or that are factually libelous or legally obscene.

Respect Copyright & Intellectual Property: If you share images, video, audio, newspaper or journal articles created or written by others, you are subject to copyright law. If you do not own copyright to the item or if the item is not in the public domain, you must either have the copyright owner's permission or you must come within the "fair use" exception. To determine whether you fall within the fair use exception you must conduct a fair use analysis. See Copyright Compliance policy found at ( for more information. To determine whether content is within the public domain, go to this link at the United States Copyright Office

Abide by FERPA and Student Educational Records Laws: The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is the federal law that protects the privacy of student education records such as grades, transcripts and student identification numbers. Faculty should be aware that it is possible that FERPA may limit any requirements for a student to post to or interact with a social networking site as a part of an academic assignment.

FSU requires that all official FSU-sponsored social media pages display the following statement:

"Notice to Students -FSU does not control this system and cannot guarantee your privacy. By proceeding, you are acknowledging receipt of this notice and compliance with its contents. For more information, please see:  The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Be Aware that All Communications May Be Monitored and Be Subject to Disclosure as Public Records: All social media posts, comments, tweets and mentions fall under the category of electronic communications monitored and possibly archived by officials of the state and/or FSU and as such are considered public. There should be no expectation of privacy in any social media communication, whether personal or official. Each FSU-sanctioned social media profile or page can post a statement (example provided below) to inform readers that postings and other content are potentially monitored and subject to disclosure to state and FSU officials and/or the public.

Representatives of North Carolina state government communicate via this website. Consequently any communication via this site (whether by a state employee or the general public) may be subject to monitoring by officials of the University and/or State and disclosure to third parties.

Be Ethical: There are numerous codes of ethics for bloggers and other active participants in social media, all of which will help you participate responsibly in online communities. If you have your own (personal) social media site, you may wish to post your own code of ethics.

Be Aware of Terms of Service: Each social media site has its own terms of service. Please be aware of them to ensure that your usage is within stated terms. As terms of service are subject to change, check back regularly to keep yourself up to date. If there is a conflict between a site's terms of service and the state or university policies, please be aware that the university reserves the right to enforce its own policies (including these social media standards) and any applicable federal and state laws with regard to university social media.

Appropriately Set Your Privacy Settings: For FSU accounts, it is required by the state that all privacy settings be set to "public." However, for your personal accounts, be aware of your privacy settings and what information is easily available to the general public. That said, do not assume that a privacy setting will protect your content from being passed beyond your intended audience. Only publish content that you are willing to disclose.

Separate Personal From Professional Accounts: Do not use your university e-mail address or password for a personal social media account. Likewise, do not use a personal e-mail address for a university-sanctioned account.

Be Yourself: When posting to personal accounts, people will likely still identify you with the university. You are welcome to identify yourself as a FSU faculty or staff member. However, please be clear that you are sharing your views as a member of the higher education community, not as a formal representative of FSU. This parallels public relations practices at FSU.

A common practice among individuals who write about the industry in which they work is to include a disclaimer on their site, usually on their "About Me" page. If you discuss higher education on your personal social media site, we suggest you include a sentence similar to this:

"The views expressed on this [blog, website] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FSU."

Don't Use the FSU Name, Logos or Trademarks in Personal Social Media or for Private Gain: The name "Fayetteville State University (FSU)" and its logos and trademarks may be used only by social media platforms of student organizations officially recognized by Student Affairs and University-recognized departments/units and other university entities. Do not make endorsements using the FSU name logos or trademarks. See Official Fayetteveille State University Trademarks and Licensing for more information.

Be Vigilant-Exercise caution to avoid "phishing" attempts, which aim to gain control of a personal or institutional social media site by deceiving a user into revealing the account's user name and password. Monitor your social media sites to ensure you notice quickly if an unauthorized person gains access-the larger your audience, the more tempting your site becomes as a target.

Measure for Results-To evaluate post activity and interaction with a community, make use of analytics and tracking tools. Facebook has built-in analytics for pages.

Promotions-Adhere to the promotion policies of the social media platform in question and applicable law.

Follow State Best Practices: FSU is a public educational institution of the State of North Carolina and as such its official social media sites should conform to Best Practices for Social Media Usage in North Carolina.  Please see the following: Social Media Usage in NC State Government - Introduction (Tutorial 1), Social Media Usage in NC State Government - Implementation (Tutorial 2), Social Media Usage in NC State Government - Acceptable Use (Tutorial 3), Social Media Usage in NC State Government - Security (Tutorial 4)  

Fayetteville State University Brand Memo, Fayetteville State University Social Media MemoOfficial Fayetteveille State University Trademarks and Licensing, Official FSU Style Guide and FSU RGB Brand Color for Web Use

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