Social Media Guidelines
- Owner: University Relations
- Approval Date: September 2016, June 2022
What is Social Media?
1. Social media refers to social sharing services that facilitate user-generated content and conversation over the Internet such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.
Social Media at Ryerson University
2. The University recognizes that social media is changing how we communicate with students, colleagues and the world at large.
3. The University has a vital interest in how its community members are using communications technology, given its potential to positively and negatively affect the University’s reputation.
4. Members of the University community have rights and responsibilities regarding communications technology.
5. The purpose of the Guidelines is to promote proper usage of social media within the University community. To learn more, please contact Public Affairs.
II. Best Practices and Guidelines
Creating Social Media Accounts
6. Each social media network has different audiences, purposes, cultures and approaches. They also have different written and unwritten codes of conduct. It is essential that your content is being transmitted through the right channel, in the right way, to the right audience.
7. Before creating a social media presence for your office or department, please consider the following questions:
(a) Is there an audience that will be interested in your content?
(b) What type of content do you intend to post to your channel?
(c) Are there existing University channels sharing similar content?
(d) Will you be able to provide consistent, unique updates over time?
(e) Is it possible to use existing accounts to distribute your content?
8. If you decide to create a social media account, you become responsible for administering the account (the account administrator). If you create an account on behalf of a group, then you need to select an account administrator.
9. Account administrators shall consider the following recommendations or requirements:
(a) Notify Public Affairs with the name and contact information for the account administrator(s) as well as the URL for the account. Public Affairs does not make this information public.
(b) Actively monitor the account on an on-going basis, during business hours or for a specified, publicly stated time period (e.g., 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday to Friday).
(c) Create and regularly post meaningful content aligned with the University’s brand.
(d) Maintain the account in accordance with the Guidelines and applicable Policies outlined in Section III of the Guidelines.
(e) Adhere to social-media best practices and naming conventions when creating your account name and visual identity to maintain a unified University community voice and visual presence. Contact Marketing and Creative Services to request Ryerson-branded social media icons for your channel(s).
(f) Each social media account administrator must have separate login credentials. Keep your login credentials private and do not share them with anyone. If multiple administrators must manage the social media account, use account management tools (such as TweetDeck) to control permissions among multiple users.
(g) Do not use your University password as your social media password. If your social media account is compromised, your account will be at risk.
(h) Refrain from using social media to engage in media pitching or media interviews. If you are contacted by a member of the accredited media about a post or comment on a social networking site, refrain from responding and contact Public Affairs.
(i) Complete a University social media seminar, advertised through the Human Resources Learning Events Calendar.
10. If you have assessed these considerations and concluded that there is a need to create an additional social media account, consider which channel is most appropriate for your content. A variety of platforms that can be used for different purposes include:
(a) Facebook: Diverse audience. Allows longer-form content, but is less immediate than other channels. Good for strong visuals and engaging posts.
(b) Twitter: Quick and immediate. Used to communicate with the audience directly and immediately.
(c) LinkedIn: Professional environment that has a very specific audience and is great for specific goals (e.g., recruitment), but not ideal for a general social presence.
(d) Snapchat: Currently the fastest growing platform. Similar to Twitter in its immediacy, but it requires more robust content creation from the community manager.
(e) Instagram: Highly visual platform. Good for creative profiles that have access to strong visuals. Perfect for art/media related accounts.
(f) TikTok: Video-based platform with a strong focus on entertainment, trending content and the use of popular sounds. It’s best suited for reaching prospective students, current students, and recent alumni.
11. When setting up a social media account, consider the following questions:
(a) What is the name of your channel?
(i) To avoid confusion and to optimize your discoverability across search engine results, include ‘Ryerson’ as a keyword across your handle, account name, account bio, etc. Although unit names and character limits will guide your implementation, the ideal naming convention for Ryerson account handles and names would be ‘Ryerson’ + ‘__’ where ‘__’ represents your unit or account differentiator (e.g., RyersonHR).
(ii) Avoid using ‘Rye’ or ‘RU’ whenever possible. If absolutely necessary, use ‘RU’ only where space is limited. Example:
Twitter Account Handle: @RyersonHR
Twitter Account Name: RU Human Resources
Twitter Account Bio: Ryerson's HR Department: tweets about…
(iii) Visual appeal and brand unity are important considerations for your social channel set-up. Contact Marketing and Creative Services to request Ryerson-branded social media icons for your channel(s).
(b) What are your goals?
(i) It is important to have structured and clear goals when launching social channels. You have to define whether you are working to:
A. raise awareness (impressions);
B. generate audience activity (engagement); or
C. establish an online portal for the audience’s information, education or a combination of both.
(c) Who will run your channel?
(i) It is important to have a dedicated account manager who develops content, responds to requests and monitors activities. The account manager will be responsible for generating content and responding to the audience.
(d) How frequently do you plan to post?
(i) It is important to maintain a social presence once a channel is established, by engaging with audiences and generating unique content beyond re-tweets and re-sharing articles. An inactive or a stagnant social media account can damage a brand as much as not having an account.
(ii) General recommended frequency of posting:
A. Facebook: 2-4 posts per week
B. Twitter: Daily
C. Instagram: 3-5 posts per week
D. LinkedIn: 2-3 posts per week
(e) What monitoring tools will you use?
(i) All platforms provide built-in monitoring and analytics. To fully capture the discussion and maximize your social media strategy, consider additional tools such as Sysomos, HootSuite, Sprout Social, etc.
(f) From which other University channels will you need support?
(i) New channels take time to set up and to attract followers. Consider which additional channels within the University’s social infrastructure are most appropriate supports for your channel.
(g) Who is your audience segment within the University social infrastructure?
(i) The University has a variety of social media channels. Some deliver messages to a wide audience, while others are very specific. It is important to identify your audience segment, to maximize your social media strategy.
12. Use sound judgement and common sense in all on-line communications.
13. If you are unsure about your content, voice or approach, monitor the online channels where your audience is talking about you (e.g. Twitter, Facebook or other social media channels). Before setting up an account, understand the best practices and culture that regulate users for the proposed platform.
(a) Be Transparent – Accurately represent your office or department.
(b) Be Strategic – Approach your social media communications with a clear plan and line of responsibility. Create a social media strategy for the academic year that states your account’s goals, voice, audience, content, and administrator(s).
(c) Be “Ryerson” – The University is an open, inclusive and progressive institution. Posts and comments should be inclusive, respecting and reflecting the University’s diverse community.
(d) Add value – Give your audience meaningful content that reflects your office or department’s area of expertise.
(e) Engage – Frequently monitor conversations and promptly respond to questions, comments, and incidents.
(f) Schedule – Create a content calendar or a theme calendar.
(g) Track – Generate regular analytics reports: knowing what is performing well and what is not on your channel can help you improve your strategy. You can use in-platform tools (e.g., Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics) or external analytics software. If you have any additional questions about analytics, contact Public Affairs.
(h) Use caution – Do not get involved in every discussion. Sometimes, not saying anything (but still closely monitoring the discussion) is the best course of action.
(i) Prioritize – Do not burn out your content: prioritize what you want to discuss daily, weekly and month to month.
(j) Respect sensitive information – Do not share anything that is not public knowledge or may result in harm (financial, reputational, physical, legal, regulatory, etc.) to individuals or to the University.
(k) Always think before you post – Stay on-message and on-brand, and consult with a manager if unsure. Never post, re-tweet or distribute:
(ii) Off-topic or unprofessional remarks;
(iii) Profanity, obscene content or personal attacks;
(iv) Copyrighted or trademarked materials without the proper permission.
(l) Obtain the necessary approvals for contests – Approvals and legal requirements:
(i) Student giveaways or contests must meet all legal contest requirements. Before advertising any giveaway or contest on your social media channel, obtain legal advice from the Office of the General Counsel and Secretary of the Board of Governors at firstname.lastname@example.org
(m) Respect Trademark and Copyright laws - your posts and user-generated content (UCG) posted to your account must never infringe others’ copyrights,
(n) trademarks, rights of publicity or other third-party rights. If you have any concerns about the legality of UGC or the legality of your proposed posting, contact the Office of the General Counsel and Secretary of the Board of Governors at email@example.com
Best Practices for Personal Social Media Accounts
14. The line between professional and private social media usage can be easily blurred. Be conscious about mixing your personal and business lives. Even when communicating online, you are not exempt from the laws and regulations governing personal liability.
15. When using University electronic resources for personal social media use, make sure you are in compliance with University policies and guidelines, listed below. A good approach is only to post what you would say during in-person conversations with colleagues.
III. Applicable Policies
16. The University does not have a single, specific policy regarding social media.
17. There are numerous University policies and guidance that address individual conduct and internet usage. Read and understand these policies and guidance documents before creating a University social media account or posting on University social media. Below is a list of relevant policies and guidance documents. Go to the University policies website to see the complete list of university policies.
o Section C – Offenses prohibited under the code
o Section D – Remedies and Penalties
IV. Community Guidelines
18. Social media accounts can outline community guidelines related to interactions with the account. Please see suggested community guidelines below:
- We welcome comments, questions and constructive feedback, but reserve the right to remove posts and/or ban users who violate our guidelines or otherwise engage inappropriately. Examples of posts and content that will not be tolerated include, but are not limited to:
- Abusive, harassing, stalking, threatening or attacking others;
- Defamatory, offensive, obscene, vulgar or depicting violence, including of a physical or sexual nature;
- Hateful in language targeting race/ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, political belief, etc;
- Fraudulent, deceptive or misleading;
- Trolling or deliberately disrupting discussion;
- Commercial solicitation;
- Spamming in nature;
- Content that is contrary to law and/or inconsistent with the University’s policies, procedures, requirements, expectations, and obligations applicable to you; and
- Content that engages considerations related to those outlined above.
Please note that you are responsible for the content of your social media accounts and posts.
Any user whose online conduct exhibits the above behaviour(s) may have their comments deleted, be subject to removal from the page or be blocked from following the university’s social media accounts. The University reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to take these and other actions appropriate in the circumstances.
V. Emergency Procedures
19. In the event of offensive content, complaints, or emergency issues, take the following steps:
(b) Step 2: Notify Office of Public Affairs
o Social Media Assistant: 416-979-5000 x4680
o Manager, Public Affairs: 416-979-5000 x4630
(c) Step 3: Confirm identity, if possible, and preserve the ACTUAL content that forms the subject of the complaint (i.e., take a screen capture of the offending material).
(d) Step 4: Consult with your immediate supervisor (unless they are the subject of the complaint). If you are not able to deal with the complaint, refer the matter to the most appropriate area of the University (e.g., HR, DHPS, Vice-Provost Students).
20. If you have additional questions or require additional advice about emergency procedures, contact Public Affairs: 416-979-5000 x4680.
21. If you require additional information regarding the following issues, the attached links provide you with contact information:
(a) General questions and social media advice: Public Affairs;
(b) Ryerson brand guidelines and visual standards: Marketing and Creative Services;
(c) Social media icons: Marketing and Creative Services;
(d) Social media analytics and campaigns: Marketing and Creative Services;
(e) Matters relating to Human Resources: Human Resources;
(f) Matters relating to privacy and information security: Privacy Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(g) Matters relating to giveaways, contests, trademark and copyright issues, or any other legal matter: The Office of the General Counsel and Secretary of the Board of Governors at email@example.com.