Treehaven, part of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point system, embraces the responsible use of social media to communicate with internal and external audiences. Having a significant and sustained presence on these sites allows Treehaven to interact and build relationships with prospective and current students, alumni, employees, the media, parents and general community members.
The guidelines below are good ground rules for those new to social media and serve as a reminder to the social media savvy. If you have any concerns about the content posted on one of our social media outlets or in these guidelines, please email Treehaven Director Scott Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Separate work from personal. Do not communicate with the media or other external audiences in an official capacity when you intend for your account to be personal. A good resource about transparency in online communities is the Blog Council’s “Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit” at www.socialmedia.org/disclosure.
Get permission. Get permission when representing others. Ensure before photo sessions that Treehaven (or partner organization, such as an elementary school) holds permission to photograph and publish any individuals pictured in private meetings or gatherings. Get written permission for children younger than 18. Do not cite university faculty, staff, students, vendors, business partners or other members of the Treehaven community in quotes without approval from the person or party cited. Do not post anonymous or unattributed quotes. Creative Commons (https://creativecommons.org), a nonprofit organization that holds different types of licenses to allow individuals to choose which type of copyright protection best suits their work, is a good resource.
Be cautious. Make sure your efforts to be transparent comply with privacy, confidentiality or legal guidelines or laws. It is your responsibility to know the laws, university ethics policies and professional ethics associated with this type of work. If you need training, please inform your supervisor and request recommendations from the University Relations and Communications staff. Never comment on anything related to Treehaven or university legal matters, crises, emergencies, litigation or parties we are in litigation with without approval from University Relations and Communications. Be smart about protecting yourself, your privacy and Treehaven/UW-Stevens Point information. What you publish is widely accessible, so consider the content carefully.
Be respectful. Certain topics can lead to inflammatory conversations and negative comments. Don’t fan the flames. Keep your comments kind, thoughtful and on topic.
Allow interaction. It generally is best not to censor or delete unflattering comments. However, it is recommended that you delete comments or posts that contain profanity, obvious spam and discriminatory messages. Always take a screenshot of any comment or post you delete. If a student makes an obscene, vulgar or offensive comment, notify Student Affairs and include a screenshot of the comment in your communication.
Be safe. If any commenter threatens anyone including students, faculty, staff or the university community, take a screenshot of the comment and notify Protective Services immediately.
Maintain confidentiality. Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Treehaven, UW-Stevens Point, its users, students, alumni or fellow employees. Use good ethical judgment and follow university policies and federal requirements, such as FERPA (https://www.uwsp.edu/regrec/Pages/ferpa.aspx). If you discuss a situation involving individuals on a social media site, be sure they cannot be identified. As a guideline, don’t post anything that you would not present at a conference.
Handle negative posts appropriately. Take a deep breath. Look through the post response flowchart and decide where the post fits. Confirm facts. Sympathize and consider where to apologize. Consider going offline; in many cases, the person who wrote the post will be willing to talk with you if you provide your work email address or message them privately. Say “Thanks.” A broad, hostile statement often draws no attention at all. Keep an eye on it, and if no conversation develops, leave it alone. If you are unsure how to proceed, contact university Relations and Communications at 715-346-3046 or email@example.com.
For more information about Treehaven’s social media guidelines, visit www.uwsp.edu/urc/sm/Pages/default.aspx
The above guidelines were previously developed by UW-Stevens Point’s University Relations and Communications Department and customized on 6/14/17 by UW-Stevens Point Treehaven staff.