Social Media Guidelines
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Before you post content to any social-media outlet affiliated with the University of Missouri, please take a moment to review our official guidelines.
If you’re an MU employee or a contractor hired by MU and you’re creating or contributing to any MU social media, these guidelines are for you.
We expect everyone who participates in social media on behalf of MU to understand and to follow these guidelines. They will evolve as new technologies and tools emerge, so please check them regularly.
Interacting with othersWith so many social-media tools at our fingertips, interacting with alumni, current students, prospective students and the general public is easier than ever before. When we connect with the public on behalf of the university, we must keep certain standards and goals in mind.
- Provide expertise and positive insight about the university to help create a bond and build a rapport with users.
- If leaving a comment, post something meaningful, encouraging, informative or respectful. Comments should always follow the established posting policy.
- Before posting, re-read your comment to make sure it can’t be misconstrued as negative or inappropriate. If you have any doubt, ask someone else read it before you post it.
- Respond to questions or inquiries in a timely fashion. Since timestamps often are published with posts, other users will know just how quickly you respond to them with accurate and relevant information.
- Disagreement should not be squelched. If you respond to a disagreement, do so in a professional and respectful manner. Respect proprietary information, content and confidentiality.
- Be transparent. If you’re discussing an MU-related topic, use your real name and title. Keep in mind that what you say officially represents the university and should be absolutely accurate.
- Respect student privacy. FERPA and HIPPA laws and NCAA guidelines restrict discussion of Mizzou students, prospective students and patients on websites and in social media. NCAA rules prohibit comments about possible recruits on any university-affiliated social media pages. Before communicating to or about any prospective student-athlete, seek the approval of MU’s athletics compliance office at 573-882-2076. Learn more.
- In online social networks, the lines between public and private, personal and professional, are blurred. Be sure that content is consistent with your professional role and with the university’s standards.
- Make sure your efforts to be transparent don’t violate the university’s privacy, confidentiality or legal guidelines for external communications. All statements must be true, accurate and not misleading. Never comment on any legal matters, litigation or parties with whom the university is in litigation without appropriate approval. Do not comment on other institutions; instead, focus on MU.
- Do your homework, and get help. If a different person or department is better suited than you to post a reply or comment, invite that representative to participate. Mizzou is teeming with experts. Find them.
- Engage in conversation. Talk to your users like you would talk to people face to face in professional situations. Avoid composed, stilted and institutional language. Be friendly.
- Provide quality. Scads of sites on the Internet focus on MU. The best way to ensure yours is the one they turn to is to provide interesting, accurate and up-to-date information.
- Be responsible. Participation in MU social media is an opportunity, not a right. Treat it as seriously and professionally as you would any other aspect of your job. If you make a mistake, admit it. People will notice if earlier posts change, so if you decide to make an edit, make it clear to all users.
- Lead the discussion. Point users in the right direction, and provide them with an example of how social-networking sites operate. Show your Tiger pride.
- Respect protected material. Follow all policies and guidelines regarding the use of official MU marks.
In most social media, the university is unable to pre-approve public posts to its pages or sites. The following steps should be taken to ensure the best experience for users.
- Clearly state in your site’s posting policy that you are unable to pre-approve content. Assure users that the site is regularly monitored (and actually monitor the site) and that content violating the posting policy will be removed.
- If a user posts a constructive criticism or a negative comment that does not violate the posting policy, don’t delete it. Instead, engage the user in conversation. Perhaps you can help solve a problem, winning over a disgruntled member of your audience. Always use facts in supporting your statements, and, when possible, include links. Not every barb warrants a response.
- Correct misinformation. If a user posts a false accusation or an inaccurate statement, don't delete it. Instead, respond — in a respectful and friendly manner — with the accurate information. If a user posts an ignorant and/or offensive remark, you can use the opportunity to help educate the person without being condescending, pointing him or her to reliable resources and correcting false impressions. After all, Mizzou is in the business of public education. Educate the public.
- Where warranted, when removing a post, leave a reminder of your policies so users will better understand why the post was removed. Contact the individual who posted the deleted item, and remind him or her about the policies. Also thank the user for following Mizzou, and encourage future appropriate participation.
- One of the most important things to remember when moderating social media is that these conversations take place somewhere on the Internet. Providing a forum for them gives the university a chance to monitor what is being said, to correct any misconceptions and to provide accurate information to all users. Removing a discussion from your site doesn't’t eliminate the discussion. If you allow it to take place, users will stick around.