The following best practices for social media conduct are provided as further effort to clarify how best to protect personal and professional reputations when posting and participating in these online communities. Many of these practical recommendations are based on actual scenarios that unfolded at other institutions and are listed here to educate users about proper conduct regarding social media.

Be respectful—Understand that content contributed to a social media site could encourage comments or discussion of opposing ideas. Responses should be considered carefully in light of how they would reflect on the poster and/or the university and its institutional voice.

Remember your audience—Consider the wide range of audience before making a post to ensure the post will not alienate, harm, or provoke any groups.

Think twice before posting—If you wouldn't say it at a conference or to a member of the media, consider whether you should post it online.

Strive for accuracy—Get the facts straight before posting them on social media. 

Photography—Consider adding a watermark and/or posting images at 72 dpi and approximately 800x600 resolution to protect your intellectual property. Remember that the policies of Ball State University Photographic Services related to purchasing and publishing its images apply online as well as in print. Contact Photographic Services at 765-285-1571 with questions.

Before posting images of students or others, particularly if they were taken in a classroom setting or include minors, ensure you have permission to share the photos online. If you are posting on behalf of a Ball State unit, this permission should be in the form of a signed release. 

Avoid commentary about other schools—So you are an administrator for a Ball State page with an opinion about the scores of last night's Ohio State or LSU game? Your Ball State-affiliated social media site is not the most appropriate place to share that opinion. Keep those thoughts to your personal social media pages and keep the focus here on the department, organization, and university you're promoting.

Keep controversial topics out of the conversation—In social media, users are apt to post comments and start dialogue that has little to do with the post in question. If the matter in question involves a topic that can easily ignite debate (politics or religion, for example), avoid it. University administrators of social media sites on Facebook and Twitter have been known to ask questions or post remarks about heated political items, and this can be misinterpreted as their taking a stance on the issue on behalf of the institutions they represent.

Forget jokes. Not on April Fool's. Not ever.—Institutional social media sites may seem like easy targets for prank posts, particularly of the April Fool's variety. But page administrators should avoid posting any kind of message that could be misinterpreted as factual. Even on the one day of the year you may think you can get away with it. Trust us, you can't.

If you create multimedia to post, have it reviewed—Primarily by the Division of Strategic Communications. Videos, microsites, and other online multimedia follow the same policies and guidelines for approval as other communications products.  Our aim is not to stifle creativity, but to ensure that content represents the university accurately and in accordance with institutional branding.

What you post on your personal page could haunt you professionally—When a faculty member at a well-respected American university began posting details on her personal Facebook page about plagiarizing her work and using Wikipedia as her go-to source for providing information to her students, the professor had some explaining to do and the press got a hold of the story. The moral here? Avoid putting information out there that could put your job in jeopardy and reflect poorly on your employer. Chances are if you work at a university and have a personal social media site, someone there—be it a student, coworker, administrator or parent—has his or her eyes on you.

Division of Strategic Communications
West Quad, Room 304
Ball State University
Muncie, Indiana 47306

Hours: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. EST Monday - Friday. For after-hours calls, dial the number below and you will be directed to an on-call staff person.
Phone: 765-285-1560
Fax: 765-285-5442