Social Media Guidelines & Policy

Registration of TSU Social Media Sites

Your social media site must be registered with The Office of Public Relations and Communications.  Please fill out the  Social Media Registration Form. Thank you!



The rapid growth of social media technologies combined with their ease of use and pervasiveness make them attractive channels of communication. However, these tools also hold the possibility of a host of unintended consequences. To help you identify and avoid potential issues, we have compiled these guidelines. They are examples of best practices from various institutions and are intended to help you understand, from a wide range of perspectives, the implications of participation in social media.

Things to Consider When Beginning to Use Social Media

Applications that allow you to interact with others online (e.g., Facebook, Snapchat, etc.) require careful consideration to assess the implications of “friending,” “linking,” “following” or accepting such a request from another person. For example, there is the potential for misinterpretation of the relationship or the potential of sharing protected information. Relationships such as faculty-student, doctor- patient, supervisor-subordinate and staff-student merit close consideration of the implications and the nature of the social interaction. The following are some guidelines to follow in these cases:

General Guidelines

Sharing TSU news, events or promoting faculty and student work through social media tools is an excellent, low-cost way to engage the community and build our brand. Employees are encouraged to repost and share information with their families and friends that is available to the public (press releases, TSU News, TSU Select, etc.). The best way to share university news is to link to the original source. When sharing information that is not a matter of public record, please use the following guidelines:

Maintain Confidentiality

Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Tennessee State University, its students, its alumni or employees. Use good ethical judgment and follow university policies and federal requirements, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Maintain Privacy

Do not discuss a situation involving named or pictured individuals on a social media site without their permission. As a guideline, do not post anything that you would not present in any public forum.

Respect UniversityTime and Property

It’s appropriate to post at work if your comments are directly related to accomplishing work goals, such as seeking sources for information or working with others to resolve a problem. You should participate in personal social media conversations on your own time.

Do No Harm

Let your Internet social networking do no harm to Tennessee State University or to yourself whether you’re navigating those networks on the job or off.

Understand Your Personal Responsibility

TSU staff and faculty are personally responsible for the content they publish on blogs, wikis or any other form of user-generated content. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time— protect your privacy.

Be Aware of Liability

You are responsible for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Individual bloggers are liable for commentary deemed to be copyright infringement, defamatory, proprietary, libelous, or obscene (as defined by the courts). Increasingly, employers are conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending offers. Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you.

Maintain Transparency

The line between professional and personal business is sometimes blurred: Be thoughtful about your posting’s content and potential audiences. Be honest about your identity. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as a TSU faculty or staff member. However, please be clear that you are sharing your views as an individual, not as a representative of Tennessee State University.

Correct Mistakes

If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and be quick with your correction. If you’re posting to a blog, you may choose to modify an earlier post—just make it clear that you have done so.

Respect Others

You are more likely to achieve your goals or sway others to your beliefs if you are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person.

Be a Valued Member

If you join a social network, make sure you are contributing valuable insights. Don’t hijack the discussion and redirect it by posting self/organizational promoting information. Self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to banishment fromWeb sites or groups.

Think Before You Post

There’s no such thing as a “private” social media site. Search engines can turn up posts and pictures years after the publication date. Comments can be forwarded or copied. Archival systems save information even if you delete a post. If you feel angry or passionate about a subject, it’s wise to delay posting until you are calm and clear- headed. Post only pictures that you would be comfortable sharing with the general public (current and future peers, employers, etc.).


Social Media Guidelines When Posting as an Individual

TSU uses social media to supplement traditional press and marketing efforts. Employees are encouraged to share university news and events, which are a matter of public record, with their family and friends. Linking straight to the information source is an effective way to help promote the mission of the University and build community. When you might be perceived online as an agent/expert of TSU, you need to make sure it is clear to the audience that you are not representing the position of TSU or TSU policy. While the guidelines below apply only to those instances where there is the potential for confusion about your role as a TSU agent/expert versus personal opinion, they are good to keep in mind for all social media interactions. When posting to a social media site you should:

Be Authentic

Be honest about your identity. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as a TSU faculty or staff member. However, please be clear that you are sharing your personal views and not speaking as a formal representative of TSU. If you identify yourself as a member of the TSU community, ensure your profile and related content are consistent with how you wish to present yourself to colleagues.

A common practice among individuals who write about the industry in which they work is to include a disclaimer on their site, usually on their “About Me” page. If you discuss higher education on your own social media site, we suggest you include a sentence similar to this: “The views expressed on this [blog, Web site] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Tennessee State University.” This is particularly important if you could be perceived to be in a leadership role at TSU.

Use a Disclaimer

If you publish content to any website outside of TSU and it has something to do with the work you do or subjects associated with TSU, use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and do not represent TSU’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

Don’t Use the TSU Logo or Make Endorsements

Do not use the TSU logo, wordmark, athletic logo or any other TSU marks or images on your personal online sites. Do not use TSU’s name to promote or endorse any product, cause or political party or candidate. TSU logo and trademark guidelines can be found at: /publications/logos.aspx.

Take the High Ground

If you identify your affiliation with TSU in your comments, readers may associate you with the University, even with the disclaimer that your views are your own. Remember that you’re most likely to build a high-quality following if you discuss ideas and situations civilly. Don’t pick fights online.

Don’t Use Pseudonyms

Never pretend to be someone else. Tracking tools enable supposedly anonymous posts to be traced back to their authors.

Protect Your Identity

While you should be honest about yourself, don’t provide personal information that scam artists or identity thieves could use. Don’t list your home address or telephone number. It is a good idea to create a separate e-mail address that is used only with social media sites.

Does it Pass the Publicity Test

If the content of your message would not be acceptable for face-to- face conversation, over the telephone, or in another medium, it will not be acceptable for a social networking site. Ask yourself, would I want to see this published in the newspaper or posted on a billboard tomorrow or ten years from now?

Respect Your Audience

Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in TSU’s community. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered sensitive —such as politics and religion. While you have the right to express your personal viewpoint, you should also be aware of possible repercussions.

Monitor Comments

Most people who maintain social media sites welcome comments— it builds credibility and community. However, you may be able to set your site so that you can review and approve comments before they appear. This allows you to respond in a timely way to comments. It also allows you to delete spam comments and to block any individuals who repeatedly post offensive or frivolous comments.


Social Media Guidelines When Posting on Behalf of Tennessee State University

Online collaboration tools provide low-cost communication methods which foster open exchanges and learning. While social media tools are changing the way we work and how we connect with the public and other higher education institutions, the TSU policies and practices for sharing information remain the same. In addition to the general guidelines discussed above, when you are creating or posting to a social media site on behalf of TSU you need to:

Seek Approval

Any messages that might act as the “voice” or position of the University or a school/college/unit must be approved by the University or the director of the school/college/unit or their delegate.

Be Accurate

Make sure that you have all the facts before you post. It’s better to verify information with a source first than to have to post a correction or retraction later. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible -- that’s how you build community.

Be Transparent

If you participate in or maintain a social media site on behalf of the University, clearly state your role and goals. Keep in mind that if you are posting with a University username, other users do not know you personally. They view what you post as coming from the University. Be careful and be respectful. What you say directly reflects on the University. Discuss with your supervisor the circumstances in which you are empowered to respond directly to users and when you may need approval.

Be Timely

Assign an administrator who can regularly monitor postings and content. Aim for standard times for postings and updates. The recommended minimum frequency is once to twice a week. But be sure not to overload your updates. Followers will stop paying attention if you overload them with information.

Be Responsible

What you write is ultimately your responsibility. Participation in social computing on behalf of TSU is not a right but an opportunity, so please treat it seriously and with respect. If you want to participate on behalf of the university, be sure to abide by its standard practice guidelines.

Respect Others

Users are free to discuss topics and disagree with one another, but please be respectful of others’ opinions. You are more likely to achieve your goals if you are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person.

Be Thoughtful

If you have any questions about whether it is appropriate to write about certain kinds of material in your role as a TSU employee, ask your supervisor before you post.

Use of the TSU Logo

If you create a social media site on behalf of the University, use simple graphics that represent the TSU brand. TSU Publications can provide guidance with graphics and design, as well as information on logo permissions and standards.


Safety & Privacy Tips for Social Media Networking

The Internet is open to a world-wide audience. When using social media channels, ask yourself:

  1. Did I set my privacy setting to help control who can look at my pro le, personal information and photos? You can limit access somewhat but not completely, and you have no control over what someone else may share.
  2. How much information do I want strangers to know about me? If I give them my cell phone number, address, email, class schedule, a list of possessions (such as my CD collection) how might they use it? With whom will they share it? Not everyone will respect your personal or physical space.
  3. Is the image I’m projecting by my materials and photos the one I want my current and future friends to know me by? What does my pro le say to potential faculty members/advisors? Future graduate school/internship interviewers? Potential employers? Neighbors? Family? Parents? Which doors am I opening and which am I closing?
  4. What if I change my mind about what I post? For instance, what if I want to remove something I posted as a joke or to make a point? Have I read the social networking site’s privacy and caching statements? Removing material from network caches can be difficult. Posted material can remain accessible on the Internet until you’ve completed the prescribed process for removing information from the caching technology of one or multiple (potentially unknown) search engines.
  5. Have I asked permission to post someone else’s image or information? Am I infringing on their privacy? Could I be hurting someone? Could I be subject to libel suits? Am I violating network use policy or HIPAA privacy rules?
  6. Does my equipment have spyware and virus protections installed? Some sites collect profile information to spam you. Others contain links that can infect your equipment with viruses that potentially can destroy data and infect others with whom you communicate. Remember to back up your work on an external source in case of destructive attacks.


Tips for Posting to Social Media


Hosting and maintaining a departmental Facebook page is one way to connect with students, highlight achievements, or promote the activities of the department.


Before creating a departmental Facebook page, be sure to take a moment to consider if it’s the best way to reach your intended audience. Sometimes creating an e-mail list or Twitter account may reach the audience better.


  • Be timely with your posts.  
  • Monitor comments on your Facebook page daily and respond to any comments that warrant such.
  • Encourage two-way communication.
  • Delete comments that are inappropriate.  
  • Your main banner image for Facebook should be at least 850 pixels wide and very high quality. If you need a photo to use, you may use a photo from TSU's Flickr page
  • Respect copyright law.  (read more)
  • Follow the Student Handbook (especially regarding academic honesty and student code of conduct) and any/all regular applicable student policies, standards of conduct, and applicable law. Please review.
  • Staff must adhere to the Personnel Handbook for standards of conduct on social media.
  • You are encouraged to link to your source material ANY TIME you are able. This will help reduce the possibility of misinformation and it will also drive traffic.





  • Try to use "Tennessee State University" when naming your account. This helps to distinguish us from other universities that also have the acronym "TSU."
  • Avoid acronyms. Your web audience might not be familiar with your particular acronyms.
  • If your department or unit name is too long to use in its full form, abbreviate it as necessary; but be sure to use the full name and "Tennessee State University" in your description.




Social media usage at Tennessee State is governed by the same policies that govern all other electronic communications.  Be certain to read the Electronic Communications Policy  before engaging in any social media posting as part of your official duties at Tennessee State University.

Advertising on behalf of external vendors is prohibited on Tennessee State University websites and social media channels (with the exception of Tennessee State University Athletics).

All social media sites also have policies about how the social media site uses your content. Review those before beginning your social media site.


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