Five Colleges Social Media Policy and Practices

This policy is adapted in part from the five campuses and other sources.

What is social media?

Social media refers to a variety of online platforms that allow people to share information and interact virtually with one another. The Five College Office of Communications manages accounts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr and YouTube. Other examples of social media outlets are Pinterest and Tumblr.

What is the value of social media?

Social media allows you to connect with people who might be interested in your programs, projects or work in a less formal manner than you would normally with a press release or other traditional communication method. This makes it a great way to share insights from your work with those who are most curious to learn more. It’s also a faster way to spread information, given how much time people spend on social media sites. However, it’s important to note that once something is shared via social media, it can’t ever be taken back. Even a post that has been removed could still turn up on search engines if it’s been saved somewhere else on the web.


Connect with Five College communications

Make Kevin Kennedy, the Five College Director of Communications, an administrator or give him full login credentials for each social media platform you are going to use. This ensures there is a back-up person in place should those managing the platform leave or be unavailable for a period of time. 


Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Five Colleges or its employees, or about students, staff and faculty members at any of the consortium campuses that would violate rights under applicable federal and state laws and regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA).


Do not post anything to an official social media channel that should not be shared publicly. In particular, do not discuss a situation involving named or pictured individuals on a social media site without their knowledge or permission. This does not include photos from the Five Colleges Flickr account or photos in which individuals are not clearly recognizable. Keep in mind that for reasons of privacy or security some students may not want it publicly known that they attend one of the five campuses. Never share Social Security numbers, addresses or other private information. Remember that whatever you share may be public for an indefinite period of time, even if you attempt to modify or delete it.


Five Colleges is a nonprofit organization. We discourage commercial promotion via official social media channels. If a business posts an irrelevant advertisement or solicitation on your Facebook wall, for instance, be sure to delete it. Similarly, do not use Five Colleges’ name to promote or endorse any product, cause or political party or candidate. Avoid conflicts of interest and maintain a distinction between your personal identity and the identity you represent on behalf of the organization.

When posting intellectual property, including photos and videos, online, all materials should be your property, in the public domain, have a Creative Commons license or fall under fair use. For all other instances, you should seek permission from the copyright holder. Where possible, best practice is to include credit/attribution. Due to character limitations and platform norms, credit is not necessary on Twitter or Instagram. You can read more about Fair Use here: 


Any posts by others containing hate speech, personal attacks, derogatory or harassing remarks about people or specific institutions, spam, advertisements and/or obscene comments should be deleted. Best practice is to privately contact the person whose post you deleted to explain the policy and let them know their post was deleted. If you are unsure if a comment should be allowed, contact Kevin Kennedy in the communications office.

Social media managers should respect free speech, which is vital to building a strong, inclusive community. If someone criticizes a post, research the claims and respond to them, either by correcting misinformation or apologizing and acknowledging if the post was factually wrong. 


Tips for being a successful social media manager

  • Create a voice or persona for your social media that reflects your work
  • Best practices say to post 4-6 times/week on Facebook and 3-10 times/day on Twitter
  • Try for the 20/80 rule: 20% of your posts should be your own original content, 80% should be reposts/retweets and posts about others’ content
  • Include photos with each of your Facebook posts, if possible
  • Be careful to post more than just events and promotions of your own stuff—post engaging stories you’ve read, thought-provoking questions, fascinating photos
  • Schedule your posts out so that they don’t all go live at the same time
  • Follow other relevant people, programs and organizations and share their materials (be sure to tag them when you do), as they’ll be much more likely to pay attention to your posts and share them with their audiences
  • Check your social media accounts every day
  • Respond promptly to any questions or comments (liking someone’s comment is a great way to show you are reading what they say and you care about their opinions)
  • Strike up conversations—if someone posts about an interesting event, tell them so in a response tweet or comment
  • If someone posts a critique, look into their comment and respond to it, but be careful not to get dragged into an extended back and forth though that doesn’t serve your community

Can you do all of this?

Don’t worry if you can’t! Social media is a lot to manage and it’s not something you should take on unless you or someone in your program can commit several hours a week to cultivating your program’s online presence. Nothing looks worse than a Facebook page that hasn’t seen a post in months.

If you want to get into social media but don’t have enough time to dedicate to it, get in touch with us at the Five College communications office and we can talk to you about creating a strategy that will work for you. This could include you crafting posts and sending them to us to post as Five Colleges, which we’re happy to do as long as the content appeals to our broad audience (which means that we have a lot of flexibility in being able to post on a wide range of topics). This could also entail creating a special hashtag to distinguish your posts from others, making it easier for people to follow the info you’re sharing, even if it’s on our social media pages.