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Social Media Guidelines

Whether your student group is just getting started with a new social media site, also known as a channel, or looking to enhance your existing social media strategy, you've come to the right place. This page features best practices, requirements and cautions to help you best represent John Tyler Community College on social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and beyond. These guidelines apply to all JTCC-focused social media channels and to all students, faculty and staff who use social media on behalf of the College.

Getting Started

So you want to start a new social media channel? Great. We love when students, faculty and staff share their unique perspectives about Tyler. Start your new channel in the right way – with goals, a good team and ideas on how to keep your audience engaged over time.

Put goals before tools. Success in social media requires time, energy and thought. Before you jump in, ask three questions: 1) Why are you establishing a social media presence for your student group? 2) What do you want it to do for your student group, your audience and for the larger College community? 3) What is the best tool to reach your audience and accomplish your goals? If you can’t answer these questions, you may need to give your project more thought before starting.

Be realistic. Your channel needs regular attention. You have to foster relationships with your audience. Be realistic about whether your student group can commit the time and resources needed to create and monitor content.

Assemble your team. When setting up your channel, make sure to have least two administrators who always have access to your site. Your student group faculty/staff advisor must have administrator privileges on the channel.

Identify yourself. When choosing a username or ID for your channel, it’s a good idea to have John Tyler Community College, or a variation like John Tyler, Tyler or JTCC, featured in the name and main content of your site. Link back to a jtcc.edu web page to reinforce the connection to Tyler. If you need a Tyler logo, visit Tyler Asset Bank to download logos in easy-to-use formats.

Become official. Want your Facebook page recognized as an official student group channel? Simply complete the Social Media Request Form, and submit it to the Office of Student Activities for approval. Being an official channel has benefits. Besides having the backing of your faculty/staff advisor, your Facebook page will be recognized as an official, active student group and listed in the Social Media Directory. Plus, your page will be followed by the College’s main Facebook page, giving it increased visibility.

Strategize. Identify your audience and the kind of information they need to know. Have a plan for who will post, who will respond to comments, and how often to post content. It’s a good idea to have one person own the day-to-day operation of your channel, but it’s also smart to have multiple folks involved as regular contributors. You may want to create a team content calendar for planning purposes.

Brand Management

All John Tyler Community College students, faculty and staff have a stake in upholding the College’s image as a valuable member of our community. When you post to a JTCC-focused social media site, you are representing the College community. The codes of conduct established in the Student Handbook and the Acceptable Use Policy (9.71)  govern behavior online for anyone representing Tyler on social media.

To ensure your channel’s voice, tone, look and message reinforce our brand, familiarize yourself with the brand standards found in the Brand Guide and Style Guide. Both guides will help you understand how to properly use logos, talk about Tyler, and create visual elements like graphics, photos and videos.

Photo and Video Usage

Photos and videos are popular content on social media, and they do not need to be professionally shot to be engaging. They do have to comply with the following rules:

Be appropriate. Photos and videos posted on JTCC-focused social media channels must be appropriate. As a general guideline, they should be photos or videos that would be appropriate for use in a College publication or on the College web site. Examples of content that should be avoided include, but are not limited to, photos or videos involving alcohol, nudity and graphic scenes.

Credit the photographer. Photo credits should be given when appropriate or necessary.

Obtain permission. Care should be taken not to use photos or video of individuals who would object to the use of their image. Minors must have their parent’s permission to be photographed.

Social Media Best Practices

Social media is best when it is authentic, thoughtful and relevant. Once you have your site up and running, use it well.

Add value. Think about what kind of content (words, photos, links) will engage your audience. Ask questions. Add photos. Post shareable content from other official channels. Social media is all about interaction, so craft your posts with that in mind.

Be responsive. Users of social media expect quick responses, so monitor channel activity. Respond promptly to questions and comments.

Post regularly, but don’t inundate your audience. It’s important to make your posts interesting or useful. If your channel has not been updated in at least 90 days, Creative Services will contact you about the status of the site. Sites that are not being updated will be removed from the list of followed pages on Tyler’s official channels at the end of the applicable semester.

Tag your posts. Hashtags help posts gain momentum by making them searchable. Use our most popular hashtags to connect your content to the College.

Invite fans to post content. Think of unusual or fun ideas with wide appeal, like photos from recent events. Ask your fans to tag their photos and videos to submit them to you.

Be accurate. Social media is conversational and informal, so it is possible to make mistakes or potentially cause a misunderstanding. If this happens, correct the mistake quickly, openly and honestly. Apologize if necessary. To avoid mistakes, make sure you have all the facts before you post. Cite and link to your sources when possible.

Be respectful. When responding to negative comments, be quick, courteous and stick to the facts. Social media is an open invitation to comment, so you are likely to have negative, or even offensive, comments on your site from time to time. Unless the comment is a direct threat or uses inappropriate language, the comment should not be removed. It’s also best to handle very specific complaints offline. Give the person with the complaint the option of contacting the appropriate office or person via phone or e-mail directly in order to best handle the situation. The goal of social media is dialogue, and dialogue is sometimes messy.

Do not spam. Do not use the site to promote services, products or organizations unrelated to John Tyler. Stick to topics that relate to the College and our community.

Know it’s out there. There's no such thing as a private social media site. Search engines can turn up posts years after the publication date. Think about what you post.

Honor copyright laws. Be aware that intellectual property may be protected by copyright laws. Guidelines are tricky, so educate yourself. Some new copyright statements have been written to allow for creative, but non-commercial uses. Learn more – and find music and images that can be used in this way – at www.creativecommons.org.

Give credit. When using or posting online material that includes direct or paraphrased quotes, thoughts, ideas, photos, or videos, always include citations. Provide a link to the original material if possible.

Have fun. Social sites are all about personal interaction and creating community, so it’s good to let your personality show through and have a little fun.

You Should Know

Social media users acting on behalf of Tyler must adhere to all College standards, especially:

College Catalog and Student Handbook
Faculty Manual
Acceptable Use Policy (9.71)
Brand Guidelines

Maintain confidentiality. Do not post confidential, personal or proprietary information about John Tyler, its alumni or your fellow students, employees or staff.

Get fundraising activities approved. All fundraising activities for student groups must be approved by both the Student Activities Office and the Vice President of Institutional Advancement.                                              

Respect College time and property. College computers and work time must be used in a manner that is consistent with the College's educational purposes and environment. You should maintain personal sites on your own time.

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