Social Media Guidelines

Let the College know. All College administrative departments and personnel must get approval by the Office of Communications and Marketing before starting a college-related social networking presence on the web.  In addition, contact the Office of Communications and Marketing for help with logos, photos, and other content assistance or refer to the Lake Forest College Communications Guide. It is important to share your presence with Lake Forest College so that the social media communities can stay connected online.

Be transparent. Departments, student groups and alumni groups who create a presence on the Web should use Lake Forest College in the title. This helps users not only find your sites when searching under the College’s name, but also to clearly identify what community you belong to.  Show your Forester pride online. 

Always be honest and clear about your identity. Never hide your identity for the purpose of promoting Lake Forest College through social media. The Federal Trade Commission requires that you disclose your relationship with the College at all times. 

Keep your messages clean and professional. Maintain a professional tone when posting content. Post only meaningful and respectful comments. Do not write anything about a member of the College community or other schools that could be construed as slanderous or offensive. You are ultimately responsible for what you write. Remember that what you post on the Internet can be shared with just about anyone and will be archived for years. Carefully consider content before you post! 

Don’t write as if you were sending your grandmother a letter, but try to remember all those grammatical rules your grandmother taught you. So, this doesn’t work, “what up peepz? Alumni partay 2nite at Teddy O’s.”  But, this is ok: “Hey, Foresters on the North Shore. We’re having an alumni party at Teddy O’s tonight in Highwood at 8 – hope to see everyone there.”

When posting pictures or videos, keep the same professional tone in mind as when you write. Leave those snapshots of intoxicated friends off of your Lake Forest site.

Check your facts before you post. Double check all of your facts before you post something and link to your sources whenever possible. If you do make an error, correct it immediately and visibly.

Maintain confidentiality. Do not post confidential information. Also, it is best practice not to post anything about work on any social networking site, including blogs, Facebook, or Twitter, unless your supervisor has directly approved it. Check FERPA regulations or with the Communications and Marketing Office if you have any questions.

Know the rules. Always abide by Federal Trade Commissions rules and those of third-party sites. Fans of a Facebook page cannot be censored by administrators, and are only censored by the terms and conditions of Facebook.

Consistently monitor your sites. The key to social media success is to stay on top of your sites. Any social media site will require daily monitoring. Encourage discussion by posting quality content and questions. Quickly address any inappropriate messages or misuse. Such inappropriate content includes spam, advertising, offensive statements, inaccurate information, foul language, or unconstructive criticism of the College or anyone in the College community.  An example of unconstructive criticism might be: “The food at the Caf stinks.” A constructive criticism, on the other hand, might look like this: “The bagels in the caf are rock hard and need to be replaced.”

Social media can be used in as many productive ways as it can be misused. As a general guideline, if you have any question as to whether something should be removed, please contact the Communications Office. Please notify the Communications and Marketing Office when you do remove seriously inappropriate content.

Use proper grammar. While certain Web sites, like Twitter, limit the number of characters you can post, refrain from letting these relaxed rules get in the way of good syntax and proper punctuation. After all, your site represents the College, at least in part.  Here’s an example of a good tweet, from Northwestern: “AUDIO: Small Earthquakes in U.S. Actually 19th-Century Aftershocks http://bit.ly/2jipOl.” And, here’s a bad example, from an NFL player, “anyone else getting that s*&% for the road?but if they make it half a@! i will smash it”. Our readers appreciate good grammar, and continued mistakes might cause them to stop reading.

Content should be kept short and sweet, with an ideal post of 1-2 sentences and a link. Readers and followers want to know what is happening with you or your group; be sure to keep them updated at least once a week (probably more often for Facebook and definitely for Twitter). But, also be aware that you can post too much. The College’s best practice is quality is better than quantity. All content should be written in active voice. Remember to consider your audiences, students and parents of the academic community. Style and tone of posts should be direct and student oriented.