Social Media Policy

University of Notre Dame Social Media Policy Handbook

At Notre Dame, we are committed to teaching, learning, and discovery, and wish to thoughtfully engage in conversation and debate about topics that are relevant in the world today. Social media extends traditional channels of engagement and transparency and opens a two-way conversation that can tell the Notre Dame story and promote University news and research.

This social media policy handbook is intended to be used as a guide for anyone running an account representing any aspect of the University on any social media platform. It seeks to outline acceptable use of social media by the ND community. This does not apply to personal accounts created by ND faculty, staff, student employees, or interns, though there may be information found within that could assist you in creating a professional persona online.

Remember, the online spaces where you engage are visible to all. The public will perceive you as representing Notre Dame—to them you are the University. In order to be a positive steward of Notre Dame, it will be helpful for you to understand social media and what it means to engage online, the risks you can anticipate, and how to deal with problems. Respect, professionalism, and awareness are key to our brand voice.

What Is Social Media?

Broadly defined, social media encompasses any online platform or channel for user-generated content that allows anyone to publish and access information, collaborate on a common effort, and build relationships. Primarily, it refers to but is not limited to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat, and YouTube.

Professional Use

Administration

If you are using social media in any capacity to represent a college, institute, department, or other component of the University, use professional contact information (ideally a shared departmental email address) to create the account. If you are using social media for non-work-related purposes, or for a blend of professional and personal information, please use personal contact information when creating the account. Remember, many of these social platforms only allow one account per email address, and you don’t want to be unable to create a personal account or a professional account because an email address is already in use for other purposes.

Each official social media channel should have no fewer than two full-time staff member account administrators who have access to the username and password or are added as full administrators on an account. 

Administrators of social media sites on behalf of the University must adhere to all University policies, especially:

Administrators of social media sites on behalf of the University must also adhere to the Social Media Brand Guidelines.

You Are the University

Everything you do in your role as a Notre Dame employee reflects on your unit and the institution, including interaction through social media—even privately. Remember to be professional and respectful, and avoid engaging in mean-spirited arguments or debates on social media. 

Our audience does not understand the internal organizational structure of the University. What you post on your organization’s social platforms reflects on the Notre Dame as a whole.

You can help bring clarity, though, by avoiding posts that have the appearance of speaking on behalf of the entire University. The @NotreDame and University of Notre Dame accounts are those that speak on behalf of the University as a whole. Each division, college, department, or institute represents its respective viewpoint and should speak as such. This pertains to all content, from the fairly innocuous to emergency situations.

For example: The Office of Public Affairs and Communications will often create holiday messaging on behalf of the President’s Office and the University as a whole. As such, the University of Notre Dame social accounts will wish fans and followers a “Merry Christmas from Notre Dame!” Other accounts wishing fans and followers a Merry Christmas should do so on behalf of the entity they represent (e.g., “Merry Christmas from the College of Science!”).

Quality Matters

Correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar are of the utmost importance—even on platforms like Twitter, which affords you only 280 characters to share your message. Make every effort to be clear, complete, and concise. There are very few first drafts that can’t be shortened and improved.

Common abbreviations for specific words may be used (Prof. for Professor; Fr. for Father), but words should never be abbreviated using numbers (gr8; b4). Remember that internal acronyms may not mean anything to our audience so consider spelling out those that are uncommon. 

Care should be taken to not mislead or exaggerate information in a clickbait manner or in ways that could be considered spam.

Graphics

While most of us work primarily on desktop or laptop computers throughout the course of our workday, 80 percent of all social media traffic comes from mobile browsers or mobile apps. Unfortunately, what looks best on desktop doesn’t always translate to mobile. Always check your images on a cellphone to make sure they are sized appropriately, all words are visible, and the image is not cropped in ways that violate University brand standards (e.g., make sure Mary is not cut off the Dome on your cover photo on Facebook or Twitter).

Photography and Attribution

If you are downloading images taken by Notre Dame Multimedia for use on social media, please use at least medium resolution for all in-stream images on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. For Facebook cover photos, please download a large resolution photo. Images used on social media should not include the ND watermark. Please contact Michael Wiens to create a Photoshelter account to download photos without the watermark.

Images taken by University photographers do not need attribution on social media, and attribution should not be included on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook posts. You can include attribution on more static images like the Facebook cover photo and respond with the photographer's name to those who ask in the comment section. 

Understand the Platforms

As an employee who manages social media, you should learn as much as you can about each of the platforms you intend to use. Stay current on new and emerging features so you can use the platform to its fullest potential. The University’s social media manager blogs about issues, tips, and tricks on the NDStories blog. You can also find information on social media analytics at analyze.nd.edu

Creating New Accounts

In a world increasingly focused on social media, our goal is to always allow campus communicators to create new accounts on most social media platforms. However, social media management takes time, energy, and—most of all—content. We want to set campus communicators up for success when they start accounts, so we’ve compiled a brief questionnaire to answer prior to launching on a new platform that can help you achieve your goals.

Once you have completed the questionnaire, please contact Liz Harter to discuss any ideas or concerns.

  1. What is the goal or purpose for beginning a new social media account for your school/institute/program/department?
  2. Which social media platform are you hoping to launch (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)?
  3. What audience are you targeting? (Make sure they’re on that platform.)
  4. Is this the same audience you’re targeting with your other marketing efforts or social media platforms?
  5. Can your content be shared on other social media channels to contribute to a robust content strategy vs. starting a new channel?
  6. How will this platform integrate with your other digital marketing efforts and touch points?
  7. How will the platform presence align with the brand of any affiliated college or institute or the University of Notre Dame as a whole?
  8. What will your handle name be? Is it available on the platform?

Process:

  1. What type of content do you plan to post on this platform?
  2. How frequently will you post? (It is recommended to plan up to two months of a content calendar to verify that you can maintain a consistent posting schedule.)
  3. How many users will have access to publishing on this platform? Do you intend to have students handling posting and publishing?
  4. How would you describe your tone and voice for this platform?
  5. Are you familiar with legal issues in this space such as use of identifying images, copyright, and more?

Crisis Communications Policy

In the event of an emergency on campus, such as inclement weather or a campus crisis, the Office of Public Affairs and Communications will be in close communication with the Office of Campus Safety and any divisions or departments directly affected. Any crisis management messaging will originate with an ND Alert shared directly to the University’s Facebook and Twitter accounts at the same time as an Alert goes out to campus phones, emails, and text messages.

If a crisis does not rise to the level of activating the ND Alert system, the University will originate messaging about any crisis, and other social media accounts on campus should assist in disseminating messaging by sharing these posts. Make sure to regularly check the Notre Dame accounts for messages that you can retweet or share on your own channel to ensure safety and awareness. 

Do not post new information on your own channels. Lead followers asking questions to either nd.edu or the University’s social media channels. If you have posts scheduled to be shared, please pause them immediately.

Accessibility

Visual standards on social media extend beyond making sure appropriate fonts are chosen and images are sized correctly for each platform. Care should be taken to make sure content is accessible to everyone by using image descriptions, alternative text and closed captioning to all graphics and videos on social media.

You can find information on how to navigate and create alternative text on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and how to create closed captioning, on the Notre Dame Stories Blog: Social Media Accessibility: Alt Text and Closed Captioning.

The main University accounts owned by the Office of Public Affairs and Communications will not share images or videos from other accounts on campus unless they include these accessibility options. 

Moderating Comments

You are responsible for monitoring and moderating posts or comments on your page from other users. Remember that social media users have a right to disagree with us and express their opinion, so deleting or hiding comments should be used sparingly unless the comments:

  • Use profanity.
  • Include personal attacks.
  • Solicit, advertise, or endorse a third-party business or service.

If you believe you have encountered a user who repeatedly violates these guidelines, please contact Liz Harter to discuss a course of action that may include blocking the user. Do not block users without first speaking to OPAC.

If you are concerned about a post or comment or are unsure if it should be deleted or hidden, please contact OPAC. If you believe a post demonstrates a credible threat, immediately notify the Notre Dame Police Department at 574-631-5555.