Social Media Guidelines

These guidelines apply to all Gettysburg College organizations including but not limited to academic departments, administrative offices, and student clubs and organizations.

We expect all who participate in social media on behalf of Gettysburg College to understand and to follow these guidelines. Failure to do so could put your future participation representing Gettysburg College at risk.

When You Engage
Emerging platforms for online collaboration are fundamentally changing the way we work, offering new ways to engage with students, colleagues, and the world at large. It’s a new model for interaction and we believe social computing can help you to build stronger, more successful relationships. And it's a way for you to take part in global conversations related to the work we are doing at Gettysburg and the things we care about.

If you participate in social media, please follow these guiding principles:

  • Stick to your area of expertise and provide unique, individual perspectives on what's going on at Gettysburg and in the world.
  • Post meaningful, respectful comments-in other words, no spam and no remarks that are off-topic or offensive.
  • Always pause and think before posting. That said, reply to comments in a timely manner, when a response is appropriate.
  • Respect proprietary information and content, and confidentiality.
  • When disagreeing with others' opinions, keep it appropriate and polite.
  • Know and follow the Student/Employee/Faculty Handbook and follow the Privacy Statement for the college website.

Rules of Engagement

Be transparent. Your honesty-or dishonesty-will be quickly noticed in the social media environment. If you are blogging about your work at Gettysburg, use your real name, identify that you work for the College, and be clear about your role. If you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, be the first to point it out. Transparency is about your identity and relationship to Gettysburg. You still need to keep confidentiality around proprietary information and content.

Be judicious. Make sure your efforts to be transparent don't violate the College's privacy, confidentiality, and legal guidelines. All statements must be true and not misleading and all claims must be substantiated and approved. Please never comment on anything related to legal matters, litigation, or any parties we are in litigation with without the appropriate approval. Also be smart about protecting yourself, your privacy, and Gettysburg College Confidential information. What you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully.

Write what you know. Make sure you write and post about your areas of expertise, especially as related to Gettysburg College. If you are writing about a topic that Gettysburg is involved with but you are not the expert on the topic, you should make this clear to your readers. And write in the first person. If you publish to a website outside Gettysburg, please use a disclaimer something like this: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent Gettysburg College's positions, strategies, or opinions." Also, please respect brand, trademark, copyright, fair use, and confidentiality. If you have any questions about these, see the Director of Digital Strategy. Remember, you may be personally responsible for your content.

Perception is reality. In online social networks, the lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred. Just by identifying yourself as a Gettysburg College employee, you are creating perceptions about your expertise, the school, and students, as well as the general public-and perceptions about you by your colleagues. Do us all proud. Be sure that all content associated with you is consistent with your work and with Gettysburg's values and professional standards.

It's a conversation. Talk to your readers like you would talk to real people in professional situations. In other words, avoid overly pedantic or "composed" language. Don't be afraid to bring in your own personality and say what's on your mind. Consider content that's open-ended and invites response. Encourage comments. You can also broaden the conversation by citing others who are blogging about the same topic and allowing your content to be shared or syndicated.

Are you adding value? There are millions of words out there. The best way to get yours read is to write things that people will value. Social communication from Gettysburg should help our students, parents, and colleagues. It should be thought-provoking and build a sense of community. If it helps people improve knowledge or skills, build their businesses, do their jobs, solve problems, or understand Gettysburg better-then it's adding value.

Your Responsibility: What you write is ultimately your responsibility. Participation in social computing on behalf of Gettysburg College is not a right but an opportunity, so please treat it seriously and with respect. Failure to abide by these guidelines and Student/Employee/Faculty Handbook could put your participation at risk. Please also follow the terms and conditions for any third-party sites.

Create some excitement. As a national liberal arts college, Gettysburg is making important contributions to the world, to the future of education, and to public dialogue on a broad range of issues. Let's share with the world the exciting things we're learning and doing-and open up the channels to learn from others.

Be a Leader. There can be a fine line between healthy debate and incendiary reaction. Do not denigrate our competitors or Gettysburg. Nor do you need to respond to every criticism or barb. Try to frame what you write to invite differing points of view without inflaming others. Some topics-like politics or religion-slide more easily into sensitive territory. So be careful and considerate. Once the words are out there, you can't really get them back. And once an inflammatory discussion gets going, it's hard to stop.

Did you screw up? If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and be quick with your correction. If you're posting to a blog, you may choose to modify an earlier post-just make it clear that you have done so.

If it gives you pause, pause. If you're about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, don't shrug it off and hit 'send.' Take a minute to review these guidelines and try to figure out what's bothering you, then fix it. If you're still unsure, you might want to discuss it with the Director of Digital Strategy. Ultimately, what you publish is yours-as is the responsibility. So be sure.