Policies & Guidelines
General communication guidelines already in place also apply to social media.
Members of the W&M community who manage social media channels on behalf of the university are not official spokespersons; Brian Whitson, Suzanne Seurattan and Erin Zagursky are the official spokespersons at W&M. If you are unsure about whether or not a social media post will be mistakenly viewed as an official announcement from W&M, check first with University News & Media.
Any policy you have in place about how sensitive topics are communicated for your office, department or group should also cover social media; be cautious about posts related to condolences, tragedies, personal and private concerns, etc.
Keep personal views separate from university posts. The W&M name and any official social media channels of the university (a school, office, program or department) may not be used to promote or endorse a product, cause, political party or political candidate.
More information about political campaign-related activities of and at colleges and universities is available from the American Council on Education (pdf). This guidance does not, strictly speaking, apply to W&M, but is nonetheless instructive. Additional DHRM policies on the use of electronic communications and social media for state employees is available from the Compliance & Equity Office.
Emergency communication is the purview of the W&M Emergency Management Team (EMT) and the following applies to the use of social media for emergency communications:
- the EMT will use @WMNews and facebook.com/WMNews to deploy emergency messages
- in the case of an emergency, managers of W&M social media channels may only share/retweet exactly what is posted by W&M News in a manner that credits them as the source
- Managers of W&M social media channels should not:
- post their own emergency updates or versions that differ from what is posted by @WMNews
- reinterpret, add to or delete from language used by @WMNews
Virginia’s Department of Human Resources requires of state employees that “personal use of social media that refers to any aspect of the work environment should be done in a responsible and professional manner.” In addition, the W&M Code of Ethics states that members of this community will “treat other people with dignity and respect, ensuring there is no discrimination or harassment at William & Mary.”
When you use social media on behalf of a W&M office, program or organization, your channels should reinforce the W&M brand. Consider the following:
- recommended social media icon/profile photo templates are available
- when choosing a username, try to incorporate "wm" (for William & Mary) either as a prefix or suffix if possible (i.e. wm_admission or wmalumni)
- when naming your account, include a reference to W&M or William & Mary or include a mention in the bio or About section, as appropriate (note the use of the ampersand rather than the word "and")
- editorial quality includes limiting typos, grammatical errors and subpar content
- everything you post on social media has the potential to affect W&M’s reputation; enhancing or detracting from the institutional brand
- whenever possible, mention W&M (@williamandmary on Twitter and Facebook, @william_and_mary on Instagram) or use W&M hashtags in your social media posts, this adds legitimacy and ties your channel to a strong brand