Social Media Policy
Social media is a communication tool that allows users to interact with and learn more about one another. Through the strategic use of social media, the University can initiate and generate conversation, engage with specific audiences such as alumni or current and prospective students, and help build loyalty through a sense of active connection.
However, social media also requires a significant investment of time and energy, and should therefore be considered as part of a larger communication strategy. Each unit’s communication strategy will vary depending on pre-set goals, target audience, and available tools.
Social media at the University of Richmond extends existing communication efforts to raise the profile and manage the reputation of the University. Richmond encourages its colleges, schools, departments, programs, and other campus units to use social media — provided you can commit the necessary time and energy — to build enriching relationships with individuals and communities who have an affinity for Richmond. Social media also enables audiences to engage with the University and its various campus units, with the end goal of creating loyalty and enthusiasm.
Before creating a new, official social media account, contact University Communications to set up an appointment to discuss your communication goals. During the consultation, a member of the social media core team will work with you to identify your needs and set very specific goals. We will also work with you to determine the best social media platform(s) for your overall communication strategy, devise a list of best practices, and help integrate the site(s) into your current communication channels.
The University considers a social media account “official” if it meets the following three requirements:
- Represents a college, school, department, program, or institutional office of the University
- Is managed by a faculty/staff administrator
- Targets at least one of the following audiences: current students, prospective students, faculty/staff, alumni, or donors
Official accounts receive the following benefits:
- Account promotion and content sharing on the main UR sites, including an account “Like” or “Follow,” if applicable
- Use of protected University assets such as official logos, titles, and images
- Inclusion in the social media web directory
- Invitations to all future UC-sponsored social media networking and educational events, including guest speakers and webinars
University Communications reserves the right to determine the designation status of University-related social media sites.
Official social media administrators are the faculty, staff, and designated representatives at the University who post to one or more social media sites on behalf of their campus unit. As an official administrator, you will be expected to:
- Notify University Communications of your campus unit’s social media accounts, and when applicable, provide login information to those accounts.
- Work with University Communications when establishing new channels or strengthening current ones.
Additionally, social media administrators are required to:
- Protect the institutional voice. Review University Communications' policies and guidelines for information pertaining to the Richmond brand, logos, photos, and communication practices.
- Proofread for clarity, and check spelling and grammar before posting.
- Maintain an objective, professional, and respectful tone. Hate speech, unauthorized solicitation, and dissemination of private information is strictly prohibited.
- Keep accounts current, timely, and engaging.
- Monitor and moderate comments, especially about controversial topics. Negative comments about the University should not be deleted just because they are negative; however, posts that are abusive, contain profanity, or are threatening in tone or nature should be removed from public view immediately.
- Obey copyright and fair use laws and always credit your sources.
- Never reveal confidential or proprietary information.
- Always be mindful of which account you are using (e.g., personal vs. University) before posting.
- Maintain a high level of honesty and transparency. Reflect the University’s brand and values, while also making it clear which campus unit is represented by the site.
- Commit to doing it well. Invest the necessary time and energy into making your social media the best it can be.
Official accounts should clearly identify their related campus unit and connection to the University by choosing social media profile names and images strategically.
For example, campus units should include “University of Richmond,” “Univ. of Richmond,” or “U. Richmond” in their social media profile names; followed by the official campus unit title. Using “UR” is less desirable, as several institutions identify themselves by this acronym, and, in line with the University’s overarching communication policy, units should avoid using “UofR” and “U of R” altogether.
Campus units may also identify their connection to the University in the "About" or "Bio" sections of their social media profiles.
University logos are available for use as social media profile images upon request. Please ensure that all logo use adheres to the University Logo Policy.
Since logos need to be sized specifically for the social media platform they will appear on, and to avoid cropping or distorting the image, official social media administrators should ask University Communications for logos sized specially for social media use, using the Logo Request Form. Campus units should also maintain a visually consistent presence online, by using similar profile names and images across platforms.
Unofficial (student-run) social media sites, such as those representing student groups and interests, are not permitted to use official University logos as profile or header images, even when affiliated with the institution. This policy helps to ensure brand consistency since student-run social media sites are temporary in nature and tend to fluctuate in use as the student administrator moves through the University system.
As an alternative to logos, we recommend official and unofficial social media sites use scenic and/or recognizable photos of campus as profile and header images. These images, when used in combination with our naming guidelines, will work well to establish a visual sense of place and connection to the University for your social media channel. Visit the University’s Photo Library to view and request campus photos.
Like the University itself, our social media sites should be considered safe spaces open to dialogue and differing opinions. However, the anonymous nature of the Internet makes it a place susceptible to bullying and inappropriate or offensive content. Therefore, administrators should carefully and closely monitor, and, when necessary, moderate social media content — especially when related to controversial topics.
All content, including comments, should be:
- Constructive and on-topic
- Relevant to your site and target audience
- Absent of expletives, obscenity, vulgarity, and threatening language
Remember, negative comments about the University are allowed, and should not be deleted just because they are negative. Everyone has a right to their opinion, and we welcome those opinions via the University's social media channels as long as they are voiced respectfully and appropriately.
- Abusive, profane, or threatening comments/posts should be removed from public view immediately.
- If a comment is deemed abusive, profane, or threatening, use a screen capture, photo, or transcript of the conversation to record the details, and send all relevant information to University Communications.
University Communications reserves the right to dismantle any official University social media account because of repeated instances of inappropriate or offensive content.
Additionally, content and comments that infringe on the copyrights or intellectual property rights of others are considered inappropriate and should be removed immediately.
Remember, every social media platform is unique, and not every campus unit will find social media useful. When used incorrectly, social media sites can drain time and resources, as well as have a negative effect on the University of Richmond brand. Therefore, the core team will regularly evaluate social media sites for audience interaction and growth, and when necessary make recommendations for improvement.
We also recommend you consider dismantling your social media account(s) if you find you don't have time to manage the platform successfully.