Office of Public Affairs

Social Media Policy


Social Media is one of the primary tools the Office of Public Affairs uses to tell the University’s story. Use of social media is beneficial to inform and engage the University’s internal and external audiences, including students, faculty and staff, in addition to reporters and other media representatives, community and corporate partners, legislators and more.

In accordance with the policies of each varying social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.), the Social Media Policy was drafted to inform USM social media communicators and followers of the proper use of the University’s social media channels. It is designed to protect the integrity of the University’s social media communications and ensure healthy and respectful dialogue among all users.

Download the Social Media Policy (PDF)

USM Social Media Policy (Revised Spring 2018)

Social Media is an important communication tool for the University of Southern Maine used to promote the University and, more importantly, to engage our audiences — including prospective students, existing students, alumni, corporate partners, donors, community members and the media. Social Media provides an important opportunity for two-way communication.

Experienced staff in USM's Office of Public Affairs manage the USM official social media accounts, primarily USM Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but also LinkedIn, Snapchat and YouTube. In addition to posts we create, we monitor these feeds throughout the day to address any issues or respond to any posts or queries as needed. Social Media requires a consistent and significant time commitment to be successful, with page managers investing at least several hours per day for optimum results.

Our goal is to ensure that USM's communications through social media are as consistent, accurate and timely as possible across all platforms. Misuse of social media can have a detrimental impact on our University.

USM's Office of Public Affairs will continuously review our strategies and best practices for using social media. Since social media is evolving rapidly, the USM Social Media Policy is a document that will evolve over time.

USM Primary Social Media Accounts

The University of Southern Maine has identified primary social media accounts that tie directly to our communication and marketing objectives to engage our audiences, increase enrollment and raise the profile of USM.

Social Media Accounts Managed by Colleges, Departments, Administrative Offices, and Other USM Entities or Persons

The USM community can contribute to a successful social media effort and reach a broader audience, by submitting news, events and other information to the Office of Public Affairs for the USM official Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, via the Submit Your News page on the Public Affairs website, being sure to include a full description, photograph or video, and link. We give preference to content that is geared to a broader audience, is timely, highlights student and/or faculty achievements and/or engagement with our communities.

We do not post advertisements, promotional material or information for non-USM events.

Also, if departments or programs post news on their own social media accounts, Public Affairs can potentially also share their posts via the USM official social media accounts. Since the primary purpose of social media is to engage an audience, if departments' accounts are not being utilized, Public Affairs may also work with them to devise strategies to enhance that presence, or help them determine if they wish to move forward with the account or not.

If your department or program is thinking about starting a new social media account, please contact the Office of Public Affairs to discuss strategy, branding and the setup process. Public Affairs can provide professional guidance, training and tips to ensure your presence through social media is as successful as possible. Any entity or person creating a social media presence that represents and acts on behalf of USM must clearly identify itself as such, and include the Office of Public Affairs as an administrator (primarily for emergency situations and continuity if the creator of the page should be unable to continue managing it).

The Office of Public Affairs will oversee the strategy of USM’s primary social media presence (see Section II). For all social media accounts, there should be two or more administrators. All social media accounts acting on behalf of USM must have one administrator from the Office of Public Affairs in case the regular page administrator needs assistance or to serve as a bridge during times of page administrator transition. A full-time, regular staff or faculty member should be an administrator for a specific college, department, or administrative office. A USM student can be an administrator only with appropriate oversight from a full-time faculty or staff member. By creating a social media presence, your office is committing to post on a regular, consistent basis and to monitor the page daily for comments, questions or additional requests.

If you are managing a USM social media account for your office, school or college, you must follow the USM brand standards to maintain a consistent brand and voice in your social media presence. Social media accounts who do not follow these brand standards will not be viewed as official pages.

Official USM social media profile picture for department, organization or program pages:

Social Media Icon

Please select the image or download to obtain the graphic. It must be used when establishing a new USM-affiliated social media profile. For more information in general on USM's brand standards, please view the USM Style Guide.

In general, social media is a platform for engagement, and as such, although always appearing professional, the voice is more conversational and engaging, even when sharing news. And as a social platform, we encourage people to use a more welcoming, lively, friendly and positive tone in their posts, and particularly when responding to direct messages.

Followers of USM social media may include existing students, staff, faculty, prospective students and their parents or guardians, guidance counselors, community members and corporate partners. The policy for USM followers, titled USM House Rules, is posted in a tab on the primary USM official Facebook account defined in Section II.

Policy for USM Followers

The University of Southern Maine (USM) welcomes and encourages you to engage with USM in social media. We monitor the official USM Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms daily in order to answer any questions or correct factually inaccurate statements. We promote healthy and respectful dialogue, including disagreements, but not personal attacks or language that can be considered offensive, vile, or threatening to a person or group of people. To the best of our abilities, we will review all comments to all official USM social media platforms and will remove any that are duplicate posts; potential personal attacks or offensive language; illegal suggestions; advertisements, SPAM, or other solicitation; or violate US law or University policy. We will also remove any user content we become aware of, or are notified of, that violates the social media platforms' Terms of Use. Individuals who do not follow USM's social media policy may be banned from USM social media platforms. Comments posted by followers do not represent the opinions of USM. Please review the USM Social Media Policy in its entirety.

The University of Southern Maine recognizes the importance of social media as an influential communication tool. Social media channels created on behalf of the University are intended to support the mission and goals of USM. Therefore, USM faculty, staff and administration — as well as the broader USM community — must understand they are representing the University of Southern Maine at all times when using official/approved social media channels.

USM Faculty, Staff, and Administration:

You are representing USM: When posting on social media as part of your job, please remember you are representing not only your department or program, but also the University as a whole, including the President, as well as the entire University of Maine System and the Chancellor at all times.

This policy is not intended to govern personal social media use; however, as a representative of the University, exercise discretion when posting to your personal social media channels.

Be respectful: Retain dignity and civility. Maintain a professional and respectful tone, and encourage feedback and two-way communication. We welcome differing opinions and ask that posters respect differing opinions from others. Encourage others to be respectful as well. Keeping a good outlook will serve as a positive model for others.

Be accurate: Think before you post. Make sure you have all the facts first and think about what you want to say. It might be helpful to remember that anything posted on the Internet is public and lasts forever. Even if you delete a post, archival systems may save this information.

In addition to having all of the facts, be sure to check your grammar and spelling carefully. Give yourself enough time to review your comments before posting. Remember that you are representing the University of Southern Maine.

Maintain confidentiality: Do not post confidential or proprietary information about the University of Southern Maine, its students, its alumni or your fellow employees. Use good ethical judgment and follow university policies and federal requirements, such as FERPA.

Be mindful of copyright laws: Show proper respect for the laws governing copyright and fair use of copyrighted material owned by others.

If you receive media inquiries about USM: Contact the Office of Public Affairs

Tips for Administrators of Official USM Social Media Accounts

If you are an administrator, here are some helpful tips:

Understand the social media platform: For any social media platform that you administer, learn the rules of engagement, features, functionality and terms of service for that platform.

Be engaging: Use engaging content that will spark the interest of your audience. For instance, rich media such as pictures and videos are considered to be the most engaging type of content in social media. You can also share links to relevant news, articles, blogs and other social media sites.

Listen and ask questions: Another way to be more engaging is to listen and ask questions of your audiences in order to gain feedback and insight. For optimum audience engagement and to uphold the university's professional appearance, administrators should respond to posts in a timely manner (same day is preferred, or within 24-48 hours maximum).

Respond to negative feedback: In addition to responding to posts in a timely manner, it is also very important to respond quickly, appropriately and respectfully to negative feedback. Always respond when a comment is erroneous by making a tactful and respectful correction. Try to turn negatives to positives and think of negative feedback as a way to improve service. Contact USM's social media staff within the Office of Public Affairs if you need assistance.

If followers post comments that violate the law or University of Maine System Policy; contain advertisements, SPAM, or other solicitation; contain personal attacks or language that can be considered offensive, vile, or threatening to a person or group of people; remove the comment or post, or simply do not respond to the comment, depending on which Social Media platform is used and the functionality of the platform.

If you receive a comment that violates law or University of Maine System Policy, please promptly contact USM's social media staff within the Office of Public Affairs.

Be relevant and timely: Communicating relevant and timely content is the key to building engagement. Our audience will be more likely to engage with our posts if we reference topics that are already top of mind to them, such as current events, holidays, or news.

All contests that you plan to promote using a USM Facebook Page must be approved by the Office of Public Affairs.

Promotions include "sweepstakes" or "raffles" (winner is selected based on chance) and "contests" or "competitions" (winner is judged based on specific criteria or skill). Facebook has very strict promotion guidelines about using their platform.

Please contact the Office of Public Affairs if you wish to create any sort of social media promotion.

Facebook allows page managers to pay to “boost” their posts, which turns that post into an advertisement, therefore reaching a broader audience. USM social media page administrators are allowed to boost posts to reach more users as long as the post doesn’t mimic a current University advertisement or detract attention from ads the University has already placed on social media.

Please contact the Office of Public Affairs if you wish to boost a post for any reason.

Anyone interacting in USM Social Media is required to follow this policy. The University of Southern Maine will not tolerate content that infringes on proprietary information, or that is defamatory, obscene, harassing, or that otherwise violates law or University of Maine System Policy. Those violating this policy may be brought to the appropriate governing body for disciplinary or legal action.

For related USM policies, please refer to the following:

    USM Office of Public Affairs Contact Information

    Alan Bennett
    Digital and Social Media Specialist
    Email or (207) 228-8372

    Danielle Vayenas
    Director of Communications
    Email or (207) 780-4150