University Social Media Pages and Accounts
Issued Sept. 20, 2022
Table of Contents
Social media is an important communications tool for Kansas State University, allowing account administrators the opportunity to effectively connect with Wildcats across the globe. Social media platforms have become integrated into everyday life and can have a powerful impact on organizational and professional reputations. Utilizing social media presents a new set of ways to showcase the university as an educational institution and its commitment to teaching future generations, and Kansas State University recognizes the value this can create. At the same time, the university recognizes its obligation to ensure responsible and safe use of these technologies without fracturing the K-State brand presence, reputation and voice.
The purpose of Chapter 3370 is to establish a universitywide standard for the approval, creation, use and management of official university social media accounts. This policy applies to all university employees when developing or managing social media accounts that are officially hosted, sponsored by or affiliated with the university and/or executing social media initiatives on behalf of the university. In addition, this policy provides guidance to university employees who indicate an institutional affiliation on their personal social media activity.
Before requesting a university social media account, units must thoroughly review this policy and complete the steps outlined below to request an account approval. If the account is approved, it is expected that account administrators continue to regularly review this policy and keep the account active, responsive and engaging. Failure to do so is not justification for noncompliance.
It is important to note that social media is a tool, not a solution. Platforms evolve quickly, and not everyone within a target audience utilizes these platforms. It is important that other communications tools aside from social media are still used to reach unit communication goals. Not every unit needs to have a social media account or have a presence on every platform.
Compliance with this policy is necessary for collaboration, justification and recognition by the main university social media unit and the Division of Communications and Marketing, or DCM. It applies to all university social media accounts, accounts utilizing “K-State,” the Powercat, a unit wordmark or any account created for the purpose of conducting official university business. Administrators and/or accounts that are not in compliance with the Kansas State University social media policy may face disciplinary actions and/or account deletion.
Account Administrators. Managing social media communication is a time-intensive role. It requires frequent monitoring and posting. Official university social media accounts must have a minimum of two full-time university employees authorized as account administrators on each platform. Accounts should not primarily be run by students.
Account types. Some social media platforms offer different types of accounts (i.e., business accounts versus personal accounts). In these instances, DCM, under advisement of the Office of General Counsel, will determine the appropriate account type for set-up.
Account creators. Generally speaking, account creation follows the university's brand standards in practice. Campuses, colleges, departments and other units may be eligible to create accounts, given their alignment with branding protocols. Account creation at the academic program level will not be granted unless a special circumstance warrants the creation (i.e., an interdisciplinary program shared between colleges). Approval will be required by the vice president for communications and marketing or their designee within the Division of Communications and Marketing.
Platform. A form of electronic communication, including, but not limited to websites for social networking and microblogging, through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content. Examples include Twitter and Instagram.
- Review policies. Review all applicable KBOR, State of Kansas, and university policies and guidelines and agree to operate the desired university social media account in accordance with said policies. All university social media accounts and related content are the property of the university, and not the intellectual or personal property of the authorized employee.
- Develop strategy. Develop a social media strategy for the proposed account. Examples of strategies are available on DCM's website.
- College/Unit Consent. Communicate the strategy to college/unit leadership and communications personnel for review and consent. If college/unit leadership consents, the employee shall include such approval when submitting their social media application for authorization.
- Request for authorization. Employees shall apply for an approved university social media account as follows:
- Apply to create a university social media account with DCM via https://www.k-state.edu/socialmedia/application.html.
- Agree to cease any scheduled posts during an emergency or crisis situation, and post only information related to the emergency/crisis as directed and approved by DCM.
- Creation. After approval by DCM, identified account administrators shall create the university social media account on the respective platform(s) in accordance with guidelines and practices established by DCM, including branding policy and accessibility standards [links here]. DCM client managers are available to review or assist with social media profile images and/or graphics.
DCM reserves the right to deny account creation or revoke the privilege to any account that violates best practice guidelines, fractures the brand, or presents a risk to the institution. Social media accounts created prior to the K-State social media policy implementation are still subject to policy.
- Official University Social Media Accounts. DCM shall maintain a list of official university social media accounts as approved, registered, and created under this policy. DCM will not acknowledge or comment upon unauthorized or unofficial social media accounts that represent a university affiliation except as set forth in this policy.
Social media account administrators shall:
- Review the university's Social Media Guidelines, which are updated from time to time to correspond with trends and best practices in social media use.
- Ensure university policies are being followed.
- Communicate about questions or issues with college/unit communicator and/or DCM social media specialist.
- During emerging situations, the official K-State social media account is the lead account for any public statements. Other account administrators shall cease any scheduled posts during an emergency or crisis situation, and post only information related to the emergency/crisis as directed and approved by DCM.
- If an account administrator has concerns regarding comments posted on their platforms, they should immediately contact K-State social media at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-532-2535 or their college/unit communications personnel on how to proceed.
- Follow the K-State social media user policy and have it visible in the bio on their university-affiliated social media accounts.
When creating content or managing a K-State social media account, it is vital to remember the brand pillars and focus of the university. Content must represent and respect Kansas State University, the diversity of our community, advocate for responsible digital footprints and create a positive environment. DCM reserves the right to ask any K-State affiliated social media account to remove content that violates policy or brings risk to the brand. Visuals that feature students, staff, faculty or community members should be reviewed thoroughly to protect individual privacy and the university's reputation. Individuals must be asked prior to their photos being taken for university marketing purposes.
- Non-Authorized Use/Posts.
Personal social media activity and accounts, whether related to personal/private matters, related to the university, or otherwise, are deemed both non-authorized and not in furtherance of the employee's university employment responsibilities. Consequently, the university is not liable for employee personal social media activity and accounts.
- Noncompliant and Non-University Accounts.
Social media accounts that appear to be sponsored, endorsed by, or affiliated with the university, but which have not been approved and operated in accordance with this policy, may be contacted by DCM to identify the account administrators and assess policy compliance, including the university branding and copyright policies. The university has the right to remove (or cause to be removed) any content from any platform, whether or not maintained on behalf of the university, including but not limited to, content that it deems to be threatening, obscene, a violation of intellectual property rights or privacy laws, or otherwise injurious or illegal.
- Inactive Accounts.
University social media accounts that are inactive or no longer used in regular and direct support of university activities should be removed from the relevant social media network, and then reported to DCM. If a university social media account has not been updated for more than six months, it may be removed from the university's database of approved accounts, and DCM will contact the department/unit to discuss the future of the account.
The following statement must be included in the bio of all official university social media channels.
For platforms that limit characters, the following statement must be shared in the bio:
Social media user policy: k-state.edu/social.
- Official K-State social media accounts shall not:
- Post content that violates city, state or federal laws and regulations. Posting content that violates Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is prohibited.
- Use inappropriate, harassing, threatening or obscene language or images.
- Comment on or post anything related to existing or potential legal matters or litigation without university leadership approval.
- Use the K-State brand or name or endorse any view, product, private business, cause or political candidate.
- Represent personal opinions on university-affiliated accounts. This includes, but is not limited to, creating content, sharing posts, replying to comments, and liking other posts that represent personal opinions on the university-affiliated account.
- Share content that is profane, off-topic, violates copyright or does not properly credit the original content source.
- Delete, hide or moderate content that goes beyond the best practices and policy outlined by DCM and K-State.
- Take action that subjects the university to public disrepute, embarrassment, ridicule, or scandal, with such action reflecting unfavorably upon the university's reputation or primary purposes and mission.
- Personal Social Media Activity and Accounts.
Personal social media activity and accounts must avoid creating any impression that the employee is acting in an official capacity with the university or otherwise representing the university. Personal social media activity and accounts that directly identify the university as the employee's employer should include the following disclaimer: “Views and opinions expressed are my own and have not been reviewed or approved by my employer.” Employees participating in personal social media activity and accounts are considered the owners of such accounts and are individually responsible for compliance with applicable university policies and the content found in such personal social media activity and accounts.
Employees managing and/or posting on behalf of the university on official social media accounts are generally expected to adhere to the same standards of conduct online as anywhere else in the workplace. All Kansas State University policies apply to social media outlets to the extent applicable. Some of these policies include, but are NOT limited to:
- Conduct Codes, such as PPM Chapter 4020. Disciplinary Action Procedures for University Support Staff and University Handbook Section D.
- Kansas Open Meetings Act.
- PPM Chapter 3015. Threat Management Policy.
- University Branding.
- PPM Chapter 3010. Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Violence.
- PM Chapter 3320. Branding and Licensing.
- PPM Chapter 3330.040. Third-Party Use of University Images.
- PPM Chapter 3380. Communications with Media.
- Political Activity Policies.
Violations of this policy may result in appropriate disciplinary measures in accordance with policies outlined in the University Handbook, USS Handbook, and any other applicable university policies and procedures.
Questions about this Policy should be directed to the Vice President of Communications and Marketing at 785-532-2535 or K-State social media at email@example.com.
This policy was developed based on the University of Michigan social media implementation policy and used with permission.