Social Media Guide
The goal of Renton Technical College’s (RTC) use of social media is to foster an online community for various RTC constituents, reflecting the vision, mission and values of our organization. Although these sites are outside the direct control of the institution, RTC maintains an interest in how it is portrayed by them. Social media should be used to enhance communications, providing value to the institution’s target audiences.
This guide does not apply to an individual’s private use of social media on private resources. Instead, it establishes standards for employees and students who create, administer or post to social media pages on behalf of RTC. This guide should be seen as supplementing, and not in lieu of, existing policies and regulations, official public stewardship responsibilities, technology resource standards, marketing and communications guidelines, and other applicable laws and administrative standards. It is important to remember and respect the privacy of others when using social media in the context of the educational setting. When posting photographs, videos, quotes or recorded statements on social media pages, forms that authorize RTC to use the content are required for their use; for instance, when interviewing or photographing an individual for a story that will be posted on-line. A release form is available at the following link: https://www.rtc.edu/sites/default/files/photo_and_testimonial_release_form_1.pdf
As with any other publicly funded resource that is used in an academic environment, the use of social media as a communications tool by agents who are acting and serving on behalf of RTC is also subject to applicable laws and administrative regulations.
Social media can be defined as media based on the use of Web and mobile technologies that allow for user-generated exchanges of information. Social media channels are powerful communication tools, enabling collaboration and communication as an interactive dialogue, enhancing the value of conversations across a global audience.
Social media includes but is not limited to social networking sites, collaborative projects such as wikis, blogs and micro-blogs, content communities, virtual game worlds, and virtual communities.
Institutional social media includes various sites, projects, virtual communities, that are created specifically on behalf of RTC, and that exist to serve as official RTC communications. Creation and use of social media sites on behalf of RTC and its member institutions is for business use, such as for educational, research, service, operational, marketing and management purposes. Likewise, data, voice, images, videos and links posted or transmitted via RTC’s technology resources are limited to the same purposes.
Authorization to create and administer social media sites on behalf of RTC must be coordinated through the college marketing and communications department. The communications and marketing department is the official keeper of RTC brands, and must ensure that all RTC social media sites are branded correctly, visually and with the right voice. It is appropriate to post to RTC authorized social media sites if posts are directly related to RTC business.
RTC is required to transact business so that its records are accessible and retrievable. If a public records request is made, RTC has the responsibility to disclose the information, except in a few specific instances. All information stored or transmitted via social media must follow records management, retention and maintenance practices. An RTC district or college email address ending in .edu must be used for communications to and from social media sites.
Records are retained for the period of time required by law, and disposed of in accordance with archives and public records law.
Employees should remember that students and the community might judge them and RTC by their posts. Employees should be honest and transparent about their identity and role at RTC. Maintain accuracy by verifying facts before posting information via social media. Exercise restraint and show respect for the opinions of others. Do not use RTC-related social media to promote services, products or organizations that are unrelated to RTC or its business. RTC public officials and employees should use good judgment in connecting with others via social media sites.
Employees will keep their personal social media sites separate from RTC social media. In personal posts, employees may identify themselves as an RTC faculty or staff member. RTC telephone numbers, email addresses, and images are not to be posted by employees on personal social media sites. Employees need to be clear that they are sharing their views as a member of the higher education community, not as a formal representative of RTC or its member institutions.
Students are not restricted from using social media. However, they must understand that any content made public via RTC social media sites is expected to follow acceptable social behaviors and comply with Washington statutes, federal laws, student handbooks, the student code of conduct and other RTC policies and administrative regulations.
While the existing administrative regulation for Technology Resource Standards allows for a measure of incidental computer and technology usage for personal purposes, students must also abide by Washington RCW mandates regarding the use of public resources for personal use. A student who feels that they have been treated unfairly or unjustly by a faculty member (full-time or part-time) with regard to communications conducted via RTC social media sites must follow the formal Grievance Procedure.
The malicious use of RTC social media, including derogatory language about any member of the RTC community; threats to any third party; incriminating photos or statements depicting hazing, sexual harassment, vandalism, stalking, underage drinking, illegal drug use, or any other inappropriate behavior, will be subject to disciplinary action.
Employees should be advised against perpetuating negative media from official RTC social media sites or damaging RTC brands in any way. This type of negative social media engagement from official RTC sites can result in a loss of privileges to use social media in any official capacity.
The following list includes, but is not limited to, inappropriate content posting to social media sites:
- Conducting RTC business using social media sites that are not authorized as an official means of communication per marketing standards and processes.
- Posting confidential or propriety information about students, alumni and employees that is in violation of RTC policies, HIPAA or FERPA.
- Violating any provision of the Student Conduct Code.
- Posting comments to RTC authorized social media sites that are not directly related to RTC business or accomplishing work-related goals.
- Posting any text, images or links to content that violate RTC’s Copyright Policy.
- Spam comments. All platforms that enable comments should be reviewed regularly for spam, removing spam comments as quickly as possible.
Use of any RTC and its member institutions’ logos, marks or likeness on personal social media sites is forbidden. Social media sites established for conducting RTC business must adhere to the College’s branding policy.
Complaints or allegations of a violation of these standards will be processed through RTC’s grievance procedures, Student Conduct Code or resolution of controversy.
Upon determination of a violation of these standards, RTC may unilaterally delete any violating content, and terminate the user's access. It is the user's responsibility to demonstrate and/or establish the relevance of content in the event that a content complaint is made official. Users retain the right to appeal actions through RTC’s grievance process or resolution of controversy.
Social Media Etiquette
The following questions are important for content administrators to consider prior to posting a new piece of content:
- Who is the specific audience of this message?
- Will anyone really care about this content besides me?
- Will I offend anyone with this content? If so, who?
- Is this appropriate for a social portal, or would it best be communicated another way?
- How many times have I already posted something today? (More than three can be excessive.)
- Did I spell check?
- Will I be okay with absolutely anyone seeing this?
- Is this post too vague? Will everyone understand what I’m saying?
- Is a different channel better for these purposes?
- Am I using too many abbreviations in this post, to the point I sound less than professional?
- Is this reactive communication or is it well thought-out?
- Is this really something I want to share, or is it just me venting?
Please remember that the Internet never forgets. This means everything you publish will be visible to the world for a very, very long time.
Common sense is a huge factor here. If you are about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, run the content by someone else on your team.
Social Media Channels and Posting Frequency
Suggested posting frequency for social media channel administrators is as follows:
- Pinterest: Weekly
- Twitter: Daily
- Google+: Daily
- Facebook: Twice daily
- Instagram: Weekly
- When possible, it is a good idea to delay some non-deadline postings to evenings or weekends, when the online audience is the largest.
Suggested calendar days for posting content:
- Key deadlines (registration, graduation, financial aid)
- The start of a school term
- Significant holidays (Independence Day, MLK Jr., Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Ramadan, Eid (big and little), Chinese New Year, Black History Month, Mexican Independence Day )
- Ethnic history months
- International Women’s day
- Emergency preparedness month (October)
- National Tradesmen Day (third Friday in September)
- Earth Day
- Topical “holidays” with viral appeal (national donut day, etc.)