Social Media Policies and Guidelines

Social media at Lawrence University strives to engage those associated with Lawrence University; past, present and future. Social media is used to inform, interact, connect and listen to current and prospective students and parents, alumni, faculty, staff, trustees, as well as the broader community.

Due to the fact that the use of social media may blur the lines between personal voice and institutional voice, Lawrence University has established the following policies to clarify how best to enhance and protect Lawrence University, as well as personal and professional reputations, when participating in social media.

Both in professional and institutional roles, employees are expected to follow the same behavioral standards online as they would in the real world. Employees are accountable for any content they post to social media sites that is institutionally related, or could be reasonably perceived to be institutionally related.

Major Topics

Definition of Social Media

Policies for All Social Media Sites

Policies for Those Posting on Behalf of a University Account

Emergency and Crisis Situations


Best Practices


Social media is defined as media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible online tools. Examples include, but are not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Snapchat.

By definition, social media is intended to be an ongoing social interaction — a two-way street of communication between an organization/individual and their followers. Engaging in social media takes on a different form than traditional media like television, radio and print media, for example. The immediacy of feedback and the opportunity for interaction makes social media a unique platform.

Policies for All Social Media Sites

A. Protect Lawrence University’s confidential and proprietary information

Posting information or photos about individuals without their consent can constitute an invasion of privacy that may violate Wisconsin and Federal privacy laws, including FERPA. Members of the Lawrence community who share information about individuals or the University do so at the risk of disciplinary action up to and including separation form the University, as well as potential lawsuit.

B. Adhere to all applicable Lawrence University regulations, policies and procedures

Use social media in a manner that complies with Lawrence University regulations, policies, and procedures documented in the Student, Staff and Faculty Handbook(s) including but not limited to:

  • Sexual Misconduct Policy
  • Harassment Policy
  • Employee Standard of Conduct and Disciplinary Policy
  • Employee Dispute Resolution Policy
  • Code of Student Responsibility

C. Protect individual and University intellectual property

Only share copyrighted information with the copyright owner’s consent, unless an exception applies. The U.S. Copyright Office enforces U.S. copyright law and provides resources on Fair Use and other exceptions. Questions about fair use or copyrighted material should be directed to the Office of Communications or University Counsel.

Any use of Lawrence University logos, trademarks or other images must have prior approval. Do not use official logos, trademarks, or any other University images on personal social media sites. Do not use Lawrence University’s name to endorse a product, cause or political party or candidate. Using or posting stock art, photography and video without explicit permission from the source is also strictly prohibited. If you share unauthorized images, the Office of Communications will remove these posts.

Lawrence University Graphic Standards

Questions should be directed to the Office of Communications.

D. Respect University time and property

Lawrence University computers and time on the job are reserved for Lawrence University related business as approved by supervisors.

G. Be aware of terms of service

Comply with the Terms of Service of any social media platform used.

Policies for Those Posting on Behalf of a University Account

If you post on behalf of an official University department or unit, the following policies apply, in addition to all policies and best practices listed above.

A. Acknowledge association with Lawrence University.

If you are representing Lawrence University when posting on a social media platform, acknowledge the department/team/organization’s association with Lawrence University. While you do not have to necessarily clarify yourself as an individual poster, be clear that the profile or account is associated with Lawrence University in some capacity.

B. Notify the Social Media Director

Lawrence University departments that have a social media page or would like to start one should contact the Social Media Director to ensure all institutional social media sites coordinate with other Lawrence University sites and their content. Each department or unit on campus should have representation in the Social Media Leadership Team (SMLT). The SMLT is a collaboration of individuals with social media responsibilities who come together to ensure cohesiveness and streamlined messages across University-associated accounts. Best practices, upcoming announcements, strategies, etc. are discussed during meetings. Contact the Office of Communications if there are personnel changes influencing the SMLT.

C. Have a plan and a strategy

Departments should consider their messages, audiences, and goals, as well as a strategy for keeping information on social media sites up-to-date. The Social Media Director can assist and advise with social media planning and best practices. For example:
• Ask your supervisor for input or contact the Social Media Director in the Office of Communications if you are unsure about posting something or responding to a comment
• If you make a typographical or grammatical error, correct/edit it quickly and visibly. Do not simply delete a post if responses get heated or if the post was not initially well received. Let the post run its course and craft a follow-up response if necessary. Do not delete the comments of other users on your shared posts
• Do not post self-promoting material or make “sales pitches” on social websites. Based on social media algorithms, promoting events on social media channels can have a negative impact on the effectiveness of current and future messages
• Make sure you are contributing information that will be of use to readers. Do not create a social media account simply for the sake of having it
• Social media presumes 24/7 interaction and requires diligent attention and care 
• Post meaningful updates regularly
• Respond appropriately to posts, comments and interactions in a timely fashion

D. Link back to the University

Whenever possible, link back to the Lawrence University website. Ideally, posts should be brief, redirecting a visitor to content that resides within the Lawrence University web environment.

E. Protect the institutional voice 

Posts on social media sites should protect Lawrence University’s institutional voice by remaining professional in tone and in good taste. No individual unit should construe its social media site as representing Lawrence University as a whole. Consider this when naming pages or accounts, selecting a profile picture or icon and selecting content to post. Names, profile images and posts should all be clearly linked to the particular department or unit rather than to the institution as a whole. The Social Media Director is the main administrator for University-wide channels and typically the sole individual sharing content on those channels. In addition, the Social Media Director will perform bi-annual audits of Lawrence-associated channels and take action to remove any dormant or ineffective accounts.

F. Coordinate with the Office of Communications

Coordinate with the official Lawrence University social media channels when posting University-wide news. Do not be the first to announce major Lawrence University or departmental news on a social media site unless pre-approved by the Office of Communications.

Emergency and Crisis Situations

In the event of an emergency or crisis situation in which the LU Alert System is used, administrators of Lawrence University social media accounts are asked to share only official information provided by the main university-wide channels and shared in official Lawrence University messages. Sharing information found online or not approved by Lawrence may lead to false or confusing information reaching the community and spreading online. Unless you are sharing official communication regarding the emergency or crisis, the page should remain silent and all inquiries directed to the official Lawrence University channels. If applicable, remove all previously scheduled posts. Refrain from posting until the crisis has been resolved.


Non-compliance with this policy may result in any or all of the following:

A. Limitation or revocation of individual’s or unit’s right to use or participate in Lawrence University related social media

B. Removal of posts or social media accounts

C. Corrective or disciplinary actions and sanctions as defined in the Human Resources Staff Handbook.

Best Practices

The following list of best practices gives some insight into strategies and protocols to help build a solid social media profile and better engage friends, fans and followers in a social capacity. These can be applied to anyone in the Lawrence community.

A. Think twice before posting

• Behavior in social media is no different than in e-mail, public speech, classroom lecture, conversation with friends, or a poster on a wall
• Anything considered inappropriate offline is likely also inappropriate online
• Privacy does not exist in the world of social media. Consider what could happen if a post becomes widely known and how that may reflect both on the individual and Lawrence University

B. Post accurate, concise and useful information

• Make sure you have all the facts before you post and strive to be as accurate as possible
• To avoid having to post corrections or make retractions later, fact-check all information with sources before you post and cite and link to your sources whenever possible
• If you make a typographical or grammatical error, correct/edit it quickly and visibly. Do not simply delete a post if responses get heated or if the post was not initially well received. Let the post run its course and craft a follow-up response if necessary. Do not delete the comments of other users on your shared posts
• Brevity is key when crafting messages for social media audiences

C. Be respectful

• Always respect the dignity of others and only engage in civil and thoughtful discourse of opposing ideas. Refrain from arguing with others. Do not remove a follower from social media out of anger
• Post meaningful, respectful comments – do not spam or make remarks that are off-topic or offensive
• If you feel overwhelmingly angry or impassioned about a subject, think twice before posting. Just like other forms of communication, individuals are encouraged to wait until they feel they are in a calmer state of mind to post
• Whenever possible, take a heated conversation offline by suggesting a one-on-one interaction such as a phone call or other direct message exchange
• Always give proper credit for other’s work, and make sure you have the right to use something before you publish
• Do not post anything that you would not say at a public forum
• Cyber bullying will not be tolerated. Cyber bullying can and will lead to legal action with detrimental consequences by human resources, the judicial board of the Lawrence University Community Council, or law enforcement officials. Being behind a screen does not exempt an individual from carrying on in a civil manner

D. Protect your identity

• While you want to be honest about who you are, do not provide personal information that scam artists or identity thieves could use against you
• Do not list your home address, telephone number or any other confidential personal information
• To avoid security breaches or hacking, change passwords to social media profiles two or three times a year

E. Identify your views as your own

• If you identify yourself as a Lawrence University faculty or staff member online, it should be clear that the views expressed are not necessarily those of the institution
• If you post content to personal channels that may potentially conflict with the position of Lawrence University, add a disclaimer such as, "Views expressed here are not supported by Lawrence University" or "Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer"