Social Media Guide & Policy
Updated June 2020
The university’s audiences are constantly shifting, evolving, and fragmenting across many platforms and communication avenues. Unlike a website where the community comes to the university with a specific purpose, social media is more focused on conversations in the community. Therefore, the university needs to have a cohesive strategy and unified voice to connect and engage with its communities wherever they are.
Using social media as an employee of Montana State University Billings
If you list Montana State University Billings as your place of employment, be sure to include a prominent disclaimer that anything you post is your personal opinion and not necessarily the opinions of Montana State University Billings.
Using social media as a representative of Montana State University Billings
Register your social media account with University Communications & Marketing by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your intentions. Your account will be added to our Social Media Directory. As a representative of the university, please be aware that you will be expected to follow the guidelines. See list of officially recognized MSU Billings Social Media Sites.
Assistance in setting up social media accounts and their settings can be obtained from University Communications & Marketing. It is strongly recommended to think about your messaging, goals and available time before you decide to commit to investing effort into social media. It takes more work than you might think.
Social Media Considerations & Best Practices
- Have a solid plan. Objectives should be long-term and focus on the outcomes and the quality of engagement rather than the numbers.
- Have a plan for monitoring the conversations on your social sites, responding to questions and feedback.
- Create a content-development plan. At a minimum, your plan should outline and identify
- What would this site intend to create and/or what are the objectives and outcomes you hope to achieve?
- What practices are currently in place?
- What are the strengths/weaknesses of those practices?
- How does social media align/connect with MSUB’s mission, learning outcomes and strategic plan?
- Identify your goal(s) for social media.
- Know your audience; whom are you trying to reach?
- Commit time and worthwhile content to post. To see significant results, it takes commitment.
Quality content takes an investment of time to curate.
- Remember: an inactive site equates to an “Out of Business” sign on the door.
- Choose quality over quantity.
- Think cross-pollination and seek collaborations with other social media accounts across
- Connect with @msubillings and other MSU Billings social media accounts with #hashtags. Social media, if used correctly, is a supportive communication tool. Social media should not be done in silos! Content can and should be shared generously. (See below for more information on connecting)
- ADD @msubillings as event co-hosts. This will help bring awareness to your event.
- Ask: do we really need to be on this particular social media platform? What channels will yield the best results for the identified goals?
- Manage social media platforms with managers and student leaders. When it’s practical, allow student voices to be heard to engage with current and prospective students.
- The social media landscape has changed the ways in which we communicate. Think of using social media as creating a conversation — it is as much about listening as it is about generating content.
- Keep in mind that social media outlets add a friendly and engaging element to MSU Billings and our outreach efforts. They provide new opportunities to promote the university and build relationships with multiple audiences. The expectation is that everyone must follow MSU Billings’ Social Media Policy and Best Practices when using social media to communicate consistently on behalf of the university.
- Make it easy for people to find you. Increase exposure for your social media account by using Montana State University Billings in the title and avoid using acronyms. In sections describing your unit, include a statement that acknowledges your affiliation with Montana State University Billings. Protect the university brand by using the official graphics and logos included in the university identity guidelines.
- Remember, everything you post is public. Privacy does not exist in the world of social media. Everything you post reflects on the university. Search engines can turn up posts years after they are created, and comments can be forwarded or copied. If you are unsure about posting something or responding to a comment, ask your supervisor for input or contact University Communications and Marketing.
- Use correct grammar and write in complete sentences. Abbreviations can be necessary to meet word limits, but don’t overdo it. Do not use unprofessional abbreviations such as “u” or “r.” Uphold university editorial standards by referring to the university editorial standards and guidelines.
- Strive for accuracy. Get the facts straight before posting them on social media. Review content for grammatical and spelling errors. Be sure to follow MSUB’s branding and editorial style guidelines. This is especially important if posting on behalf of the university in any capacity. Never represent yourself or MSUB in a false or misleading way. All statements must be true and not misleading; all claims must be substantiated.
- Know your audience. Be aware that a presence in the social media world is or easily can be made available to the public at large. This includes prospective students, current students, current employers and colleagues, and peers. Consider this before publishing to ensure the post will not alienate, harm, or provoke any of these groups.
- In the scenario where negative comments are posted on a social media outlet, respond to them professionally. Be respectful of others' opinions and do not suppress disagreement. Use it as an opportunity to correct misinformation and turn a negative into a positive. Delete profanity and other offensive content.
- Keep your personal views separate. Don’t include political comments or comments on social issues unless it is in support of positions MSUB has already taken. If you identify yourself as a MSUB faculty or staff member on personal social media sites, identify your views as your own—it should be clear that the views expressed are not necessarily those of the institution.
- Focus on Montana State University Billings and its mission. Do not comment on other institutions or legal matters.
- Connect and integrate MSU Billings social media sites to your posts for greater outreach and engagement. Ex: using #hashtags and tags @msubillings or other units.
Contact University Communications and Marketing for social media training and/or assistance at email@example.com or call 406-657-2266.
Social Media Policy
Officially recognized MSU Billings social media accounts must be reviewed and approved by your immediate supervisor and University Communications & Marketing (UCAM).
a. Register a new or existing social media account or change a social media account administrator at the bottom of this page via DocuSign. Please ensure you complete all the steps so you MSU Billings social media account will be recognized, visible, and in compliance.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are the only approved social media platforms for MSU Billings.
a. Facebook: Facebook pages should only be created, NOT Facebook accounts. Create a Facebook page under your own personal Facebook account. You then become the Facebook page administrator (admin) and can add additional Facebook page admins. There must be two social media admins (in addition to Buzz McStinger) for each MSUB Facebook page.
i. Add Buzz McStinger as a Facebook page admin (you will have to search for this account). This account is owned by University Communications and Marketing and will help maintain access to your page, should any social media admin leave MSU Billings.
ii. Under the “About” section of your page, please copy and paste the following text in the “Impressum” section. This satisfies our legal disclosure/notice requirement.
iii. Impressum: Montana State University Billings encourages students, faculty, staff, alumni, families, friends, and the community at large to interact on this page. Comments on this page posted by users other than the official Montana State University Billings account do not reflect the views or opinions of the university.
Montana State University Billings' Facebook page abides by Facebook’s Terms of Service with special attention to Facebook’s Community Standards. Please refrain from posting content that violates Facebook’s terms and standards, including, but not limited to, content that contains violence and criminal behavior; content that encourages or endangers a person’s physical, financial, and/or emotional safety; content such as hate speech, nudity and sexual activity, or sexual solicitation; content that violates the integrity and authenticity of a Facebook account including spam, misrepresentation or false news. Facebook encourages users to share responsibly and to report potentially violating content.
Additionally, users are expected to abide by applicable laws, regulations, rules and policies including those upheld by Montana State University’s Policy and Procedures.
All content and comments posted to this page are monitored by social media administrators on behalf of Montana State University Billings. The administrators have the right to remove content or comments that contain threats, obscenity, illegal suggestions, advertisements, spam, or solicitation; duplicate posts; or comments and content that do not relate to Montana State University.
By interacting on the Montana State University Billings Facebook page, you hereby agree to the terms and conditions posted above.
b. LinkedIn: LinkedIn pages should only be created, NOT LinkedIn accounts. Create a LinkedIn page under your own personal LinkedIn account. You then become the LinkedIn page admin and can add additional LinkedIn page admins. There must be two social media admins (not including Maureen Brakke and Kelsi Gambill) for each MSUB LinkedIn page.
i. For LinkedIn pages, add Maureen Brakke and Kelsi Gambill as additional admins to your LinkedIn page to ensure access to your page will be maintained, should any page admin leave MSU Billings.
c. Twitter and Instagram: Twitter and Instagram accounts must be registered under an msubillings.edu email domain.
i. Add firstname.lastname@example.org to have password recovery access (secondary email address) should you forget the account’s password or if you need the password reset. This will ensure the longevity of the account should admins leave MSUB and not turn over the account credentials to someone else.
Official MSUB social media accounts should be marked “official” when/where appropriate with university branding and mention the university’s social media guidelines to make clear expectations of community members, as well as of its site managers.
a. Official MSU Billings social media properties should provide contact names and email addresses, or correct website URLs that point back to the university web properties.
b. Protect confidential and proprietary information. Do not post confidential or proprietary information about MSU Billings students, prospective students, staff, faculty, or alumni. Employees must follow the applicable federal requirements such as Title IX, FERPA and HIPAA, as well as NCAA regulations. Adhere to all applicable university privacy and confidentiality policies. Employees who share confidential information do so at the risk of disciplinary action or termination. (See Resources)
c. Respect copyright and fair use. When posting, be mindful of the copyright and intellectual property rights of others and of the university. If you are uncertain about a post, contact University Communications & Marketing.
d. Obey the Terms of Service of any social media platform employed.
Social Media Registration
Thank you for your interest in creating an officially recognized social media page with Montana State University Billings. Although each unit operates its own social media outlets, all official MSU Billings social media accounts are a voice for the university. A central database compiled by University Communications and Marketing, in conjunction with Information Technology, ensures continuity in social media. To become an officially recognized page, please complete one of the following documents below.