Winthrop University: Social Media Guidelines
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Social Media Information

Winthrop Social Media Guidelines


The first generation of Internet communication channels, sometimes called "Web 1.0," allowed institutions to post information in a static form; site owners managed the content, and visitors simply consumed what they found. With the advent of more recent, interactive Internet technologies, sometimes labeled as "Web 2.0," visitors to websites have the ability to create and post content and interact with the institution that hosts the site. As Graham Cormode and Balanchander Krishnamurthy noted in 2008,

The democratic nature of Web 2.0 is exemplified by creations of large number of niche groups (collections of friends) who can exchange content of any kind (text, audio, video) and tag, comment, and link to both intra–group and extra–group "pages."

Web 2.0 technologies, which include blogs, social networks, and websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, and other emerging sites, are exciting channels that allow Winthrop University to share knowledge and connect with key audiences, including students, donors, the community, and others who may not consume traditional media as frequently as others. These communities are continually evolving, and crucial to their success is a design that invites users to contribute to the site in various ways. While only a small core group may be active on a site, all the visitors to it have a stake in its evolution and in defining its identity. The following guidelines have been developed to help Winthrop University social media users make best uses of these important emerging technologies.  


Guidelines for Using Social Media

Social media are defined as online communities and sites where information is disseminated through social interaction, created using accessible electronic publishing techniques. Examples include but are not limited to: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Winthrop supports participation in online communities and maintains its strong commitment to academic freedom in these channels. Since social media channels are evolving rapidly and the distinction between individual and institutional identities of participants on them may be blurry at times, these guidelines have been designed to assist participation and respect the contributions and rights of both Winthrop University and those users who interact with us through social media tools. The guidelines apply to material that Winthrop communications offices and related units publish on Winthrop-hosted websites and related social media sites. Any questions about these guidelines should be directed to


To post effectively on social media, best practices suggest following these guidelines:

  1. Consider your audiences. Social media often blur traditional boundaries between professional and personal relationships. Use privacy settings to restrict dissemination of personal information on otherwise public sites. Choose profile photos and avatars carefully and be thoughtful about the type of photos you upload. Winthrop can provide various versions of our logo or other university identifiers for your use. You may contact the Director of Publications and Printing with your specific needs. These efforts help preserve the quality and consistency of our logo.
  2. Understand the issues involved with social media access. Some of our audiences do not have Internet access at home, may need assistive technology to access such sites, or may have other access issues. Be aware of and responsive to such concerns.
  3. Maintain confidentiality. Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Winthrop, its students, its alumni, or your fellow employees. Use good ethical judgment and follow university policies and federal requirements such as FERPA, as well as NCAA regulations. If you discuss a situation involving individuals on a social media site, be sure that you have the individual's permission or that they cannot be identified.
  4. Be accurate and review messages. Make sure you have all the facts before you post. It's better to verify your information first than to have to post a correction or retraction later. If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly. If you edit a posting online, make it clear that it has been updated or edited. Check for correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation before posting; this saves time and embarrassment for both you and the institution. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible.
  5. Think before you post. There is no such thing as a "private" social media site. Search engines can display posts years after the publication date. Comments can be forwarded or copied. Archival systems save information even if you delete a post. If you feel angry or passionate about a subject, it's wise to delay posting until you are calm and clear-headed.
  6. Moderate comments and discussions, but don't censor them. By their nature, social networking sites are participatory and involve sharing among multiple users. Sometimes these discussions can become lively or even heated. It is important to monitor live discussions for off-topic or abusive comments but at the same time to allow a free and open exchange of ideas. Best practices suggest moderating comments and being transparent about doing so. (See Administering Winthrop Social Media Sites for specific suggestions.)
  7. Be respectful. You are more likely to achieve your goals or sway others to your beliefs if you are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person. Educate both yourself and your site users about maintaining appropriate boundaries, avoiding offensive or harmful speech, and respecting the appropriate decorum for the site.
  8. Respect university time and property. As stated in the Appropriate Use Policy, university computers and your work time are to be used for university-related business. It is appropriate to post at work if your comments are directly related to accomplishing work goals, such as providing information, responding to inquiries or comments, seeking sources for information, or working with others to resolve a problem. Follow state laws and policies, including those governing Appropriate Civic Engagement as a State Employee.
  9. Respect copyright and fair use. When posting, be mindful of the copyright and intellectual property rights of others and of the university. For guidance, consult the Winthrop University Copyright Policy. Direct questions about fair use or copyrighted material to the Dean of Dacus Library.
  10. Have a plan for managing your site that includes who will be responsible for maintaining and updating it, what tools or programs will be used for keeping the site up to date, and how problems and questions will be handled. See Administering Winthrop Social Media Sites for more details.


Portions of this document have been adopted from the following sources:

Baird, Derek E. "Social Identity, Knowledge Management, and Member Roles in Online Communities." Barking Robot. 6 October 2010.
Ball State University. "Ball State University Social Media Policy." 17 November 2009.
Careaga, Andrew. "Social Media Planning and Policies: The View from the Ground." Higher Ed Marketing. 7 November 2010.
Cormode, Graham, and Balachander Krishnamurthy. "Key Differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0." First Monday 13.6 (2 June 2008).
DePaul University. "Social Media Guidelines." 2006.
Lawrence, Keith. "Duke University Social Media Policy. E-mail to the CNAC-L Discussion List. 19 October 2010.
Navy Command Social Media Handbook. November 2010.

Site last updated by Monica Bennett 01/15/20.
Winthrop Guidelines posted to site 10/14/11.

Last Updated: 1/9/23