Social Media Guidelines

DMC Social Media Guidelines and Practices


Del Mar College supports participation on social networks including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr as they provide the College community with an effective channel to share and exchange thoughts, ideas, news, events and experiences through discussions, postings, photos, videos and other content.

The College Relations Office (CRO) has developed the following guidelines to ensure the most effective use of social media for the College's external marketing and outreach efforts. Individual faculty or student pages are not covered by these guidelines; however, faculty/staff or student groups are advised to follow these guidelines if their social media presence could be construed as College-affiliated.

Because social media and Web communication tools are ever-changing, this will be a living document and may be adjusted to reflect issues that arise in the implementation and management of social media pages or changes in the medium. Feedback is a key component to ensuring that guidelines represent the best interests of the entire College. If you have any questions, comments, concerns or suggestions, please contact the College Relations Office.

Social Media Guidelines

Official College Presence

The official social media pages for Del Mar College are maintained by CRO. They are:

Individuals or departments wishing to contribute information or make suggestions for the main College pages should contact CRO. Departments or groups that establish an online presence are solely responsible for content and regular maintenance of those pages.

Departments and Other DMC Organizations

DMC departments or other College organizational units wishing to develop a social media presence should contact CRO before setting up pages or accounts. This will ensure appropriate steps are taken when developing a social media page/account. In cases where pages already exist, please contact CRO and provide links to the page(s) with the name of the administrator(s) responsible for maintaining these pages.

  • Responsible Parties: Online administrators should connect their department or organization page(s) with the official DMC social media pages. For example, if the department or organization has a Twitter account, it should follow the official DMC Twitter account.
  • Content Development: All content posted on College departmental or organizational social media outlets should relate directly to College business, programs and/or services. Content placed by site administrators should not promote individual opinions or causes that are not directly related to College purposes. Content should follow the College Relations Web Style Guide [link] for consistency of language and presentation. All content should adhere to existing College policies, copyright laws and the terms and conditions of the specific social media tools.
  • Photos and Videos: Uploaded photos and videos should relate directly to DMC and should not be used as a promotional tool for programs, products or services outside the College. Release forms must by signed by any student, employee or other individual featured in photos or videos (see "Release Forms" below). All photos and videos should adhere to existing College policies, copyright laws and the terms and conditions of the specific social media tool.
  • Release Forms: All individuals whose photo or video image or original creation is featured on DMC Web or social media sites must sign a Photo/Image/Voice/Talent (PIVT) Release form allowing use of the image, video or work. If any individual is photographed or recorded for the purpose of using that photo or recording on DMC Web sites, social media pages or accounts, that individual must also sign the PIVT form. This applies to individuals photographed or recorded in group settings only if the individuals are easily recognizable (for example, crowd shots or recordings of individuals captured at a distance would not require a release form). The department or service unit responsible for the content is also responsible for keeping signed PIVT forms on file and providing a copy to College Relations. In the case of social media maintained by a student organization, the responsibility for maintaining PIVT forms falls on the organization's faculty advisor.
  • Updating and Adding Content: All pages and social media tools should be maintained and kept as up-to-date as possible. Sometimes social media sites are created with the best of intentions only to be abandoned or allowed to go stale without any new content for long time periods. Such sites do a disservice not only to the College's reputation but also to your department or organization. Social media presences, sites and accounts not maintained or frequently updated will be recommended for closure.

Rights and Responsibilities

DMC respects First Amendment rights and embraces free speech values. Our goal is to encourage free speech on College-affiliated social networking pages as well as to promote community values and ideals.

In general, users should primarily adhere to the terms and conditions of the specific social media tools they are using. Even so, DMC reserves the right, but assumes no obligation, to remove comments and block messages on DMC social media sites that are racist, sexist, abusive, profane, violent, obscene, spam, that advocate illegal activity, contain falsehoods or are wildly off-topic, or that libel, incite, threaten or attack DMC students, employees, guests or other individuals. DMC also reserves the right to remove postings or block messages selling products or promoting commercial or other unofficial ventures.

Social media administrators and content providers for the College should make every effort to make sure their sites and presences are free from spam, malicious or misleading links and information, or other content that deviates from the College's policies and mission. Even so, Del Mar College assumes no responsibility for any consequences resulting from external postings on its social media presences.

Most social networking sites establish guidelines regarding language, posting of pictures and videos, and various other topics. Be sure to read the guidelines carefully, follow them strictly, and report College users that violate any terms or conditions.

Reporting Concerns

Because social media sites are interactive tools, page administrators should monitor pages closely and frequently to supervise user conduct. Any questionable conduct can and should be reported to DMC. Please contact CRO if you have a concern about content posted on DMC's social networking pages/accounts.

Social Media Best Practices

Developing a Strategy

Effective use of social media requires constant attention. It's best to develop a strategy before you embark on any social media initiative representing a department or DMC organization. The following steps will help you create your strategy.

1. Define Purpose and Goals

What are your goals? How does social media fit with your other communication efforts? While starting a social media endeavor is easy, maintaining a presence requires time, effort, and resources. Make sure you have a clear purpose before you begin. Think about how you are going to measure your efforts against your goals over time so you are able to determine your success.

2. Choose a Tool

While there are many ways to participate in social media, you should figure out which tools are best for you. Which will best serve to achieve your goals? Avoid committing to too many social media tools. It's better not to participate at all than to let a social media tool become poorly maintained. The best approach is to focus on one or two mainstream tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, and engage actively.

3. Consider Existing Options

Does the College participate in this social media site or tool already? If so, can you join forces with existing initiatives? Joint efforts are easier to sustain and also are more influential.

4. Commit Resources

How much time can you commit to social media efforts? How will you keep it active? And, do you have the resources? Assess the resource costs needed, and make sure you have the resources to commit to the initiative. It's better to do nothing than to establish an ambitious social media presence and engage only half-heartedly. Also, think about how long you can commit to your social media tools: will you leave the site up indefinitely, or is it a limited-time project? What is your exit strategy?

5. Assign Responsibilities

Who will "own" your social media presence? Who will perform regular updates, and who will be contributors? Although you may have multiple contributors from your department or program, one person should own the initiative and be responsible for day-to-day operations, monitoring interaction, responding to users, and adding new content. Consider assembling a team composed of a site owner, site editor, and contributors.

ALWAYS give more than one person access to your social media pages, even if it's just making sure they know the username and password. Sometimes staff members change jobs or leave the institution, and you don't want to lose the ability to update your pages when that happens!

6. Track Usage

One advantage of social media is the opportunity to track its use. How often will you gather metrics, and which metrics are most important? Who will gather the metrics, how will they be reported, and to whom? Establish a process to track usage, and use metrics to measure your success in achieving your goals.

Managing Content

Maintaining Transparency

Honesty and transparency are key components of social media interactions. Do not adopt a false persona online. When engaging in a dialogue on behalf of DMC, disclose your affiliation and role up front. Be mindful that all your contributions are public, so participate as you would in any other public setting.

Many of us make personal use of social media, such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, as private individuals rather than as spokespersons of the College. However, we may be identifiable as belonging to the college community: e.g., because of our "" email address or as members of the "Del Mar College" network on Facebook. While these guidelines are for those participating on social media sites on behalf of DMC, the guidance is sound for the personal context as well, especially if you are visibly connected to the College in your social media presence.

Setting the Right Tone

The tone of conversation on social media sites varies; but overall, it tends to be informal and conversational, personal rather than institutional. When engaging in discussions on behalf of DMC, join into the flow of conversation and offer your viewpoint as one of many.

If you are maintaining a Facebook page on behalf of Del Mar College, take care that you are adding to the conversation, and not just making a sales pitch! Facebook uses a sophisticated algorithm that promotes posts from pages that attract a lot of interaction (likes and comments) and "buries" posts from pages that show little or no interaction. Think of Facebook in terms of a dinner party; no one wants to talk to the guest who walks around handing out business cards! Instead, be conversational instead of purely promotional.

Privacy Concerns

Remember that social media is public. When engaged in conversation with students, use caution when discussing their enrollment status, financial aid, class schedule or any other academic matters covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Always use the social media site's private-messaging function to talk to the student about their specific case. If no such function is available, then have the student contact you by email, phone, or private method other than social media.

Moderating Interaction

Social media sites allow users to post comments, photos, responses, and other content on pages. As administrator of these sites, consider removing posts or comments if they are:

  • Exceptions to freedom of speech. Remove posts that are defamatory or obscene, may cause panic, use fighting or threatening words, or incite to criminal behavior.
  • Limited purpose violations. For sites with a limited purpose identified on the site, remove posts that are clearly unrelated to the subject of the page.
  • Violations of the social media site's terms of use or terms of conduct (e.g., Facebook Terms of Use, YouTube Community Guidelines). Remove posts that are in violation of the terms of use of the site host. Make sure you understand the terms of use of the host site so you can enforce them.

When hosting a social media site, give users notice of - and links to - these guidelines.

Responding to Negativity

Inevitably there will be posts that are negative and even offensive but do not warrant removal. In this case, respond as follows:

  • Respond immediately to correct misinformation.
  • Allow time for others to respond.
  • When appropriate, decide who should respond and craft a correct response (with fact checking and involvement as needed).

Correcting Mistakes

Due to the informal, conversational mode of discourse, it is likely that you will make mistakes and potentially cause offense or misunderstanding. If you find yourself in a defensive position, post a retraction, correction, and/or apology as appropriate.

Crisis Communications

Should a campus emergency or other urgent situation occur, activity on social media outlets may increase. Be on the alert for rumors, disinformation or inflammatory remarks and moderate content accordingly. If College-related social media outlets address any urgent developing situation, It is strongly suggested the administrators make use of official communications and messages issued by the College Relations Office. The College's Crisis Communications Procedures are posted in DMC Share (login required).

Uploading Content

Make sure you have the necessary rights before uploading content to your social media site. If you allow users to upload content to your social media site, you need to actively monitor uploads and respond to suitability and copyright concerns. Once again, if your content includes photographs or recordings of recognizable individuals, those individuals must sign a PIVT release form. [link] Remember, the department or service unit responsible for photos and recordings are also responsible for keeping signed PIVT forms on file and sharing copies with College Relations. In the case of social media maintained by a student organization, the responsibility for maintaining PIVT forms falls on the organization's faculty advisor.

Tracking and Maintenance

Leveraging links: In addition to offering opportunities to engage with users wherever they are, social media sites also provide opportunities to bring people into contact with DMC. Use links to drive up traffic to the DMC site. For example, tweet about a news story and link to the full description found on the DMC Web site. Also, provide links to your social media sites on your department or organization site so that visitors know where to find and follow your social media presence.

Tracking usage: Track traffic from social media sites using site tracking tools. See what types of links generate the most traffic and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Site Removal

Be sure you know the length of your commitment before you launch a social media site or presence. For a limited duration site, note the duration clearly on the site. For other sites, the department or organization responsible for the site has the discretion to take down the site or remove features of the site. In some circumstances, "take down" could mean giving over control of the site to another user, department or organization.

Remember, it's better to take a site down than let it sit without updates. If you cannot maintain your social media presence regularly, please consider taking it down or turning over responsibility to another organization or individual.

CRO RWG 2-18-15

Page last updated August 10, 2018.