Social Media Guidelines School Year

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1 Version 1.0, 10/1/ Page 1 Social Media Guidelines School Year

2 Version 1.0, 10/1/ Page 2 INTRODUCTION: Why Social Media? As school district communications move into the 21 st century, schools are contemplating how and when to make the best use of social media tools for communicating to and hearing from relevant audiences. Social media is a tactical tool of an overall communication strategy. As with any tool, a good strategic communicator needs to first, establish objectives and understand target audiences. While it may be trendy to use the latest social media, if it does not connect with key audiences, a message will have little impact or value. Social media tools are not only beneficial to share information outwardly to key audiences, but a channel for schools to open a more robust and meaningful dialogue with a broader audience of students, families, staff and interested community members. Social media allows for quicker engagement with external constituencies as well as internal stakeholders. Summit School District uses social media as an opportunity to: Reach out to key constituencies in ways that expand upon traditional communication techniques; Provide a more targeted message; Disseminate information faster; Obtain more accurate and timely feedback from key stakeholders; Enhance branding and public relations efforts; Broaden reach; Obtain public input and feedback, and Improve overall communication efforts. These guidelines are designed to provide Summit School District staff and students with the basic practices for the use of social media and implementation of social media strategies that are consistent with the Board of Education s Policies: GBEE Staff Use of the Internet and Electronic Communications, and JS Student Use of the Internet and Electronic Communication. These guidelines represent social media best practices for the school district and outline important considerations for individual schools when creating their own internal social media protocols.

3 Version 1.0, 10/1/ Page 3 How to Use these Guidelines This document is designed to assist Summit School District staff, families and students with an outline of what is expected when using social media and offer suggestions to when engaging in social media communications. The needs and resources of each school will dictate specific tactics when deploying social media tools. This guide should provide a road map of acceptable goals, practices and strategies to help simplify the process and assure success. The district recognizes two primary purposes for the use of social media: 1. Social media serves as an effective mode of communication for engaging key stakeholders (staff, families, students, community members) for sharing district and individual school information. 2. Social media can be a valuable technology tool for student learning and academic achievement. Summit School District s mission is to develop caring learners for the 21 st century. As such, it is expected that all employees (including coaches) and volunteers serve as positive ambassadors for the district. All members of the school community serve as role models to students when interacting with students in schools, classrooms or online. Respectful and Professional Environment When any school district employee engages in social media with students, families or community members, it is important to maintain the same level of professionalism that an employee would use in the classroom or at any school-related activity. It is important to recognize that all school district employees have the same level of responsibility and accountability to students when utilizing any form of communication written, or social media. The district expects staff to follow the school s Code of Conduct and privacy policies at all times, and to treat parties in a respectful, positive and considerate manner. The lines between public and private, personal and professional are unclear at times in the digital world. By virtue of identifying yourself as a school district employee, you should ensure that content associated with you is consistent with the work of the district. Free speech provides some protections educators and staff members who want to participate in social media, but the laws and courts have ruled that schools can discipline teachers if their speech, including online postings, disrupts school operations. By accessing, creating or contributing to any blogs, wikis, or other social media for classroom or district use, staff agrees to abide by these guidelines. Social Media Points of Contact: School Administrators, Teachers, Staff, Volunteers and Coaches At the district level, the Director of Communications will oversee the use of social media, implementation of social media best practices and district-level messaging. The Director of Communications will oversee the development and dissemination of these Social Media Guidelines and provide for appropriate training at each school for each school social media point of contact (POC). Individuals who serve as POC for a building must complete required training before using social media. The Director of Communications will also ensure additional district personnel have the authority to access, monitoring and use social media for urgent and crisis communications. At the building level, the school principal or appropriate designee (school secretary, media specialist, etc.) will be identified to oversee the use of social media. Ultimately, the school principal is responsible for the content posting and management of social media sites for the school.

4 Version 1.0, 10/1/ Page 4 The district recognizes the value of teacher inquiry, investigation and innovation using new technology tools to enhance the learning experience. The district also recognizes its obligation to teach and ensure responsible and safe use of these technologies. District and School Level Responsibilities School district personnel will provide an appropriate disclaimer as part of the profile information for any social media site. A disclaimer such as: The purpose of this social media site is to share information on Summit School District topics and events. It is not intended to be a public forum. Comments posted to this site will be monitored. The district reserves the right to delete comments that contain vulgar language, personal attacks of any kind, or offensive comments that target or disparage any ethnic, racial or religious group. Further, the district reserves the right to delete comments that are: 1. Spam, or include links to other sites; 2. Clearly off topic; 3. Advocate illegal activity; 4. Promote particular services, products or political organizations; 5. Infringe on copyrights or trademarks; 6. Use personally identifiable medical or private personal information. When it is deemed necessary to remove/delete inappropriate content, the district or school designee will make a screen print of the page to preserve the public record of the specific post or comment being removed. The copy will be archived in the district communications office. Make sure to protect your privacy and the privacy of students. Individual District Employee, Coaches and Volunteer Responsibilities An employee s use of any social media network and an employee s postings, displays or communications on any social media network must comply with all state and federal laws and any applicable school district policies. Any written communication created or received by Summit School District staff is available to the public and media, upon request as defined by the Colorado Open Records Act, unless otherwise exempt. If a staff member does not want a comment or subsequent identifying information released in response to a publicrecords request, do not post the comment or share the information in a social media format. School district personnel will provide an appropriate disclaimer as part of the profile information for any social media site that clearly indicates the views expressed are the employee s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the district. District staff will provide sample templates and language for this purpose. School district personnel have the responsibility for maintaining appropriate employee-student relationships at all times and have responsibility for addressing inappropriate behavior or activity on social media networks. This includes acting to protect the safety of minors online. Upon request, employees shall provide to the district the existence of and their participation in social media networks. District employees are personally responsible for the content they publish online.

5 Version 1.0, 10/1/ Page 5 School district employees are strongly encouraged to protect their privacy and must protect the privacy of students. Never post confidential student information or provide specific information that would identify a particular student or student s work. Online behavior should reflect the same standards of respect, consideration and professionalism that staff members use on the job in schools. District employees are strongly encouraged to set-up separate social media accounts specific for school and classroom use. No personal accounts may be used for District or School communications. If a staff member identifies as a Summit School District employee on a social media site, please ensure that profile information is consistent with how you wish to present yourself to colleagues, parents and students. Summit School District staff, coaches and volunteers will be asked to review and acknowledge receipt of the district policies relating to internet communications and these social media guidelines. Any school district employee that fails to comply with these rules and guidelines as set forth here and in policy may be subject to discipline, up to and including termination. Security By limiting internal user access to social media tools, security of a site s message is maintained. Access, or system security concerns is covered by district policies and these guidelines; however, it is necessary to confirm that the use of a particular social media tool does not compromise the network. Staff should use different, strong passwords for each authorized social media site, identify necessary security settings and caution authorized users and students regarding personal access vs. professional access. As users post links on school social media pages to other informational sites it is important for administrators to monitor those links on an external site to maintain the integrity of a school s social media site. Administrators may need to remove posts to questionable or unsecure sites. Similarly, sites that result in downloads may also require diligent monitoring for security and/or legal attribution purposes. Use of social media platforms doesn t come without certain risks. Schools that utilize social media must be vigilant of the terms and conditions one accepts prior to the tools use. It is generally accepted that users do not have the access to a social media provider to negotiate terms and conditions beyond the standard agreement (i.e. Facebook does offer a separate school district users Terms & Conditions agreement). Legal Requirements Publication of information on a social media tool carries with it the same legal concerns that other forms of publication do. Due to the speed, access and ease with which one can update social media messages it is easy to overlook certain considerations. It is important to be aware that posted content may not have been given these considerations and thus a disclaimer or other preventative measures may need to be addressed. Copyright Attribution - Releases - Obtain releases or cite sources as appropriate when reprinting work created by others. Be certain to give credit for information drawn from other sources in posted reports, work product, etc. Obtain and document student releases or photo right authorization for photographic or video content used in a school site.

6 Version 1.0, 10/1/ Page 6 Record Retention - Be aware of a school s responsibility to retain and archive records of newsletters, posts, user comments, etc. pursuant to State Archive statutes and CORA. Terms of Use - Make certain all social media sites contain clear and understandable instructions regarding how the information contained on a social media site will be used by the school, and what type of school response might be expected from a user post (i.e.: anonymous posts will not be allowed). Disclaimers - Offering external links to websites or resources outside a school is an important customer service tool. Avoid creating potentially negative impact, and limit the potential liability of a school by properly identifying links to sites not under the school s control through proactive, accurate disclaimers and outlining policies governing posts from outside the school. Public Records- Information shared on a social media site should be considered public information. Social Media Networks and Usage Social media tools and pages are constantly evolving. For this reason the administrator of a social media program needs to remain on the cutting edge of what sites are drawing an agency s key audiences. While sites may come and go, certain sites have withstood the test of time. Below are some of the more popular contemporary sites. Schools must have all media releases on file for students prior to posting student pictures or information on social media. Facebook is the largest social networking site connecting individuals, organizations and businesses with similar interests. Summit schools primarily use Facebook as a public-facing informational platform for news about the agency, reaching key audiences with targeted information and providing background information on specific topics. Many schools utilize multiple Facebook pages to segment audience messages. Facebook Guidelines What to post: The best Facebook posts are celebratory stories that highlight student, staff or parent achievements; important updates such as school closures; photo albums; YouTube videos featuring your students, staff or community; and special events using the event application. Frequency of posts: Schools should post 1-2 times each week. When possible, avoid making more than one post per day on a Facebook page, or fans may begin to view posts as spam. When to censor: The whole point of social media is to create a space where people can share their thoughts freely without censorship. Do not censor a post or comment just because it is critical of the school or district. Only censor posts that contain obscenities or posts that bully other users, violate school policy, etc. YouTube allows users to create channels for videos and photos. School districts use this platform for both internal and external videos.

7 Version 1.0, 10/1/ Page 7 Twitter instantly connects users and followers with breaking news and short, quick bursts of information. Twitter is used within Summit School District primarily for more time sensitive, even immediate information. Targets tend to be even smaller audiences often down to the section or program level. Twitter Guidelines What to post: Post all positive news story headlines, event notifications and important updates on Twitter. Link to a longer version of articles or event information at the end of your posts. Users can also make posts containing food for thought, such as inspirational quotes and interesting facts or statistics about a school. Frequency of posts: It s appropriate to make more posts on Twitter than on Facebook. You can make as many posts as needed on any given day. Just try not to post everything all at once. Pre-scheduling tweets: Schools can pre-schedule tweets for upcoming events or other posts using a website like Hootsuite. Who to follow: One way to get more followers on Twitter is to improve your social media karma by following others in your community. Follow anyone whom you would like to be followed by, including media outlets, community businesses and organizations. Edmodo is an educational website that takes the ideas of a social network and refines them and makes it appropriate for a classroom. Using Edmodo, students and teachers can reach out to one another and connect by sharing ideas, problems, and helpful tips. Social Media Best Practices Content Management Content management is a broad term that touches on many subjects throughout this guide. While certain issues are universal, such as legal requirements of all posts and graphic standards, some allow for broad interpretation and discretion of each school on whether or not standards may even need to apply. This topic covers many of the optional considerations that may be addressed by more robust or active users of social media. Naming Conventions Part of helping users understand how to navigate a social media site includes the establishment of naming conventions for the site. These can take many forms and may have impacts beyond the social media tool itself. Summit School District level social media sites will begin with, summitk12 as a reflection of the school district address. The district s twitter account, for example, As mentioned earlier, all schools should use their school logo as the profile picture for Facebook and Twitter pages.

8 Version 1.0, 10/1/ Page 8 Frequency of Posts/Replies Social media, by nature, is more interactive rather than authoritative. The district or schools are engaging in more of a free flowing dialogue with its audience and either party is less in control of the totality of content on a given page or social media site. Active sites can result in a constant stream of thought rather than a structured exchange of information much of which is out of the direct control of the school or district. Generally, users should post to Facebook pages 1-2 times each week; more frequently for Twitter accounts, such as 3-5 times each week. Similarly, users of a site or blog should be advised of how often or when to expect replies from the site sponsor. Establishing such practices clearly through posting them on a site can assist with a number of potential challenges: Avoid having to dedicate disproportionate resources to monitoring and maintaining a social media site Create an expectation on how and when replies will be posted Avoid redundant activity on a site Removal of Offensive, Profane or Inappropriate Posts Good content management requires diligence in removing any content that is inappropriate. It is important not to confuse inappropriate content from that content that is contradictory to a school s or the school district s position. Remember, the exchange of ideas and information is the bedrock of good communication, and allowing access to healthy debate typically results in better understanding of the school district s mission or goals.

9 Version 1.0, 10/1/ Page 9 Glossary (under construction) Acceptable Use: Those best practices or policies created within the district that outline what is and is not allowable content on a social media site. Administrator: The person who controls content and has authority over operation of a social media tool on behalf of the school or school district. Best Practices: Common procedures and policies that are recognized by communication professionals as successful methods to employ social media tools. Comment: A response to an article or social media content submitted by a commenter. Content Management: Best practices or policies that outline what an organization will and will not allow to appear on its social media site. Post: Information placed on a social media site by an organization. Social Media or Social Networking: Interaction with external websites or services based on creating a dialogue of participant contributions. Types of social media tools include blogs, micro-blogs, social and professional networks, video or photo sharing and social bookmarking. Examples are: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. Terms of Service or Use: The legal contract language provided to users of social media sites that governs the use of a given social media provider. These typically include liability, responsibilities of users, responsibility of the provider, privacy, ownership of information, conflict resolution protocol and jurisdiction of legal disputes. We re always under construction! Send your suggestions for our glossary to References Colorado Springs School District 11, Social Media Guidelines 3. Minnetonka Public Schools, Employee Use of Social Media Policy # Los Angeles Unified School District Policy Bulletin: Social Media Policy for Employees 5. New Jersey School Boards Association, Sample Electronic Communication by School Staff Policy 6. New York City Department of Education Social Media Guidelines 7. Colorado Department of Education, Social Media Policy and Response Matrix 8. How to Create Social Media Guidelines for Your School, Edutopia/Facebook 9. Social Media: Guidelines for School Administrators, District Administration Magazine

10 Social Media Response Assessment & Reputation Management Version 1.0, 10/1/ Page 10 Discovery exchange of information must be limited to productive dialogue and not an unfettered forum for abusive attacks or Listen & learn from Web or Social Media Posting comments. the conversation YES A posting is made about your agency on a website, blog or social media site. Is the posting positive or balanced? No Evaluate Negative Is this post negative w/out interest in a solution?? No Rager Is this post a rant or satirical? Yes Monitor only. Avoid responding and watch for additional types of information. Notify Summit School District Social Media Coordinator. No Erroneous Is this post factually incorrect or contain misinformation? No Yes Correct the Facts. Convey factual information (see response considerations below). Notify Social Media Coordinator. Respond Unhappy Client Is the posting a result of a negative experience with the school? Yes Restore. Rectify the situation if possible (see response considerations below). Notify Summit School District Social Media Coordinator. Assess the need for positive response. Thanks can be given, along with more information about the relevant topic, or where to find additional helpful information. No Craft a response appropriate for the situation. Does the post warrant a response, does policy dictate removal of the post or should it stand with no response? Response Considerations: (Contact Summit School District Social Media Coordinator for additional input/guidance) Transparency Always disclose your affiliation with your school in your response. Sources Cite any sources referenced by including links or other relevant information. Timeliness Take the time to create a reasoned response. Tone Always respond in a respectful tone. Influence Focus responses on sites related to the work of the agency.

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