For departments aiming to deepen their communication with current and potential students, a social media portal can be an effective outlet. But having a page at a social media site entails starting with a clear strategy and building and maintaining the page to make it relevant. To start the process, the following questions should be considered:
- Do you really even need a Facebook page?: If you’re not sure whether your department needs or can maintain and moderate its own Facebook page, consider sharing your notices and events with a moderator of the UT Dallas Facebook page. That way, your news can be a post that gets exposed to the whole of UT Dallas’ fans.
- What is the main goal of your page?: Are you trying to bring attention to your department or program, or a service? Promote a campaign? Engage students or the UT Dallas community at large?
- Who is your audience?: Identifying this will help you strike the right tone in your posts and dictate what kind of content you share.
- What content will you share?: Will you ask open-ended questions to foster conversation? Share photo galleries? Post only serious University news, lighter content or a mix of both? Will you open the page up to comments from the public, or keep it as an aggregator of departmental posts?
- How will you chart your success?: Will your “metrics” be based on, for example, Facebook’s stats? The number of followers you gain on Twitter in a certain period? The number of comments/retweets attached to each post?
Guidelines for Facebook Fan Page Creation
- Consider whether you want to create a fan page or a Facebook Group; both can have numerous administrators, but a Group can be made private, thereby allowing only admins to add member and shielding them from marketing and ads from a third-party. Anyone may simply "Like" a fan page to become a fan. Select carefully - once you've created one, a Group or fan page cannot be converted to the other. Avoid making your Facebook presence a profile or a place.
- Choose your fan page’s image thoughtfully – don't utilize or misuse any UT Dallas logo. Keep in mind how the image you select will look as a thumbnail. Refer to the University's brand standards as they pertain to logos and branding and/or collaborate with the Office of Communications for help and ideas.
- Try to feature the word "official" in your name to set it apart from other, similar pages students or student groups, e.g., might create.
- Decide whether you want to allow students to post on your page's wall, or if you will restrict that ability to your administrators.
- Pick a Facebook team and make each member a fan page administrator. Decide who will post original content to the wall and who will moderate non-departmental posts (if you allow them) and comments. Discuss whether the duty will be rotated among several people and how long each stint will be. Facebook monitoring may require off-hours work.
- Once you've set up your Facebook presence, contact University Web Services to have it listed in the social media directory.
Guidelines for Facebook Fan Page Maintenance
Decide how often your page will be updated with new content. A reasonable frequency is one or two posts per week, but at the launch of your page, you may want to post an item a few times a week, to attract attention and fans. Guard against posting items too frequently, as fans may become tired of them appearing in their Feed and stop being a fan. Be sure to "Like" the official UT Dallas page to gain some traffic.
- Be ready to answer questions and comments: It's not uncommon for current or prospective students to post a question on any number of University-related topics. You are encouraged to message the question poster directly. Avoid answering questions of a personal nature on the wall, as it could violate Federal privacy laws. FERPA and HIPAA policies apply.
- Be current: If an organizational unit illustrates a pattern of not updating its social media portal at least once a month, it will be subject to removal from the social media directory.
- Be transparent: Always make sure that it's clear you are writing as a staff member of UT Dallas, especially when commenting or answering questions.
- Don’t mix the personal and the professional: Don’t engage in UT Dallas-related communications on your organizational unit’s profile using your private persona. Similarly, don’t conduct personal affairs in any social media channel using your department’s persona.
What about my own Facebook profile? If you self-identify as a faculty or staff member of UT Dallas, you render yourself subject to disciplinary action if you share private information or make derogatory or offensive comments about the University, other faculty or staff, or students. Consider maintaining two separate profiles: one private, personal page and one that you can use in your duties as a Facebook moderator.
- Don't get lost in Facebook: As many of us nowadays maintain our own personal Facebook profile, it's easy to get distracted from maintenance duties on your department’s page. To prevent wandering, aim to limit your upkeep of the fan page to five or so minutes per hour if you post updates daily, and five minutes per day if you post less frequently.
Moderating Facebook Comments and Posts
If any content and online activity created by a poster contains or leads to any of the following, it is strictly prohibited and should be removed:
- Private personal information.
- Potential FERPA and HIPAA violations.
- Third-party advertisement that violates UT System Policy 122.
- For-profit solicitations.
- Religious or political endorsements.
- Content of a sexual, lewd or indecent nature.
- Threat of physical harm, stalking, forgery or intentional disruption of University activities.
- Advocating or causing the damage or destruction of University property, illegal discrimination or harassment (including sexual harassment).
- Any intentionally malicious, defamatory, degrading or hateful material.
Particularly offensive or malicious posts can and should be captured in a screenshot and emailed to the Dean of Students for student conduct issues; to the UT Dallas Police Chief for comments of a threatening nature; and/or another UT Dallas official with the role and responsibility to respond to the issue.
Per the University's Handbook of Operating Procedure, Chapter 46, prohibited expressions include obscenity, defamation, incitement to imminent violation of the law, and solicitation. Posts that violate these rules are subject to immediate removal.