USM Social Media Policy
II. USM Social Media Presence
USM Primary Social Media Accounts
Social Media Accounts Managed by Other USM Entities or Persons
III. USM Social Media Account Administration
IV. USM Brand and Voice
V. Policy for Followers (or Fans) of USM Social Media
VI. Guiding Principles for USM Faculty and Staff
USM Faculty, Staff, and Administration
Administrators of Official USM Social Media Accounts
VII. Policies for Facebook Promotions
VIII. Following the USM Social Media Policy
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. 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.
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.
- USM Official Facebook
- USM Official Twitter
- USM Official Instagram
- USM Official YouTube
- USM Official LinkedIn
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 have their own social media accounts, they may choose to post their news there and 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 should have one administrator from 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 an official 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.
Example of official USM social media profile picture:
Example of Facebook cover photo with official USM branding:
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.
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
Be transparent: If you are posting in social media as part of your job, it must be obvious that you work for the university. If you are posting about USM on your personal time, please identify your connection to USM either in your post or in your personal profile description; identities should not be hidden, it's both poor practice and regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You are also required by the FTC to reveal if you have been compensated in any way for promoting USM.
Be respectful: Retain dignity and civility. Act professionally 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 inquires about USM: Contact the Office of Public Affairs
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 administrator or 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.
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 Public Affairs as well as the Office of Marketing and Brand Management.
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. According to these guidelines, official rules, terms and eligibility must be clearly stated. Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook must also be clearly stated. A fan's personal timeline cannot be used as a way to enter a contest, such as "share this on your own or a friend's Timeline." We can alternatively use a third party application to administer similar promotions; we recommend Wildfire.
If you are considering creating a promotion, you will need to ensure your contest abides by Maine state regulations, as well as the University of Maine System Legal Counsel and/or the CFO’s office, especially if your contest involves a tuition/fee waiver or prize worth over $1,000.
Please contact the Office of Public Affairs if you wish to create any sort of social media promotion.
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:
- Student Conduct
- Faculty Handbook
- University of Maine System Policy
- Acceptable Use of Information Resources Policy
Social Media and Web Content Specialist
Email or 207-228-8372
Director of Communications
Email or 207-780-4150