UACES Facebook U of A Extension Social Media Policies & Best Practices

Extension Social Media Policies & Best Practices

Welcome to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service social media directory. Share, engage and connect with us.

Red social media warning box reading: A word of caution: social media is a commitment. Too often social media endeavors fail because they start off strong but fall slat. If you do not have daily content to provide or do not have the time to interact with your followers on a daily basis, you are better off filtering your information through official Extension social media channels.

Decide if Social Media is Right for Your Group

Please consider the following before creating a new Extension-affiliated social media account:

  1. What is the primary goal of this social media account? How will you measure those goals?
  2. Are there any other social media accounts with which your new account will compete? Is there really a need for this separate account?
  3. What other marketing channels are you currently using and how are they working? How will social media be used differently?
  4. Who is going to manage the account? And what happens if and when the selected admin graduates or leaves the group? How will your succession planning work?
  5. What content will you share, and do you have a strategic plan in place to schedule and create this content?
  6. How often will the account be checked for feedback? And who will be charged with responding to feedback?
  7. Will your social media account provide valuable content to its users on a consistent basis, and who will create this content?
  8. How will you promote the account to gain a following?

It is important to note that over the past year a surprising number of abandoned Extension related social media accounts have been uncovered.. For this reason, we strongly caution groups from being too eager to create accounts that will not be maintained. If an account has just a few followers or friends and there are no timely updates, it is most likely not worth the time and effort.

Because of the planning and work involved in the aforementioned considerations, we strongly suggest contributing to the conversation/community via the existing, official Extension social media accounts. Please take to heart these concerns; it is not good for your group or your audience to simply "set it and forget it."

Social Media Guidelines

The purpose of the social media usage of the Cooperative Extension Service is to further our mission to provide research-based information through non-formal education to help Arkansans improve their economic well-being and the quality of their lives.

These guidelines govern the publication of and commentary on social media by employees of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (“UACES”) and its related entities. UACES employees may publish or comment via social media tools in accordance with these guidelines. UACES employees are subject to these guidelines to the extent they identify themselves or are recognized as a UACES employee and engage in the use of social media tools as part of their job.

The Social Media Committee is a group of faculty and staff who meet regularly to discuss and plan UACES social media efforts. The committee researches and evaluates social media platforms, provides information on best practices, makes recommendations for training, advises when questions arise, and maintains the social media registry. The Social Media Committee is under the leadership of  Amy Cole, Website Program Manager and Digital Principal. 

Send questions, suggestions, or comments regarding social media to: Amy Cole, accole@uaex.edu 

Social Media Channels

For the purposes of these guidelines, social media relates to any medium for online publication and commentary, including but not limited to blogs and social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Additional social media outlets may be used. A full list of Extension’s registered social media sites is available at www.uaex.edu/social-media/default.aspx.

Official Policies

Social media usage at UACES is governed by all official policies. Read the policies before engaging in any social media campaign as part of your official duties. All uses of social media must follow the professional ethical standards expected of UACES employees. These guidelines are in addition to, and complement, any existing policies or guidelines regarding the use of technology, computers, e-mail and the internet.

Specific policies of interest related to social media include but are not limited to:
University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
Brand Identity and Logo Standards and Guidelines

University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
Code of Ethics
PMGS-09-4 Policy and Management Guidelines Division of Agriculture

System Management, Office Management, Employee Conduct
Policy Number: C.E.S.P. 4-11
New: 3-6-2012
Replaces C.E.S.P. 4-10 and C.E.S.P. 4-6

System Management, Office Management, Computer and Network Use
Policy Number: C.E.S.P. 4-19
Date Revised: 4-20-2012
Supersedes: 8-20-2009

System Management, Office Management, Management of E-mail
Policy Number: C.E.S.P. 4-25
Date Revised: 8-20-2009
Supersedes: 1-16-2003

Civil Rights Compliance, Public Notification of Nondiscrimination
Policy Number: C.E.S.P. 2-4
Date Revised: 12-12-2006
Supersedes: 1-16-2004

Personnel Employment Policies, Political Activities
Policy Number: C.E.S.P. 1-9
Date Revised: 6-3-2004
Supersedes: 4-5-2001

Advertising on behalf of external vendors is prohibited on Extension social media presences.
Be mindful of the policies set by social media sites.

Obey copyright law.

If you have questions about policies or social media practices, contact (point person for social media).

Getting Started

Before engaging in work-related social media, employees must register their social media accounts (individually) with UACES at 501-671-2304. Designate who will be responsible for the account and ensure you have a backup person in your department and approval from a supervisor before starting to post.  All accounts will be listed in the UACES social media directory.

Social media accounts for UACES entities, including 4-H, EHC, Master Gardeners and any other entity representing UACES, should be set up by the county agent or specialist. In the event an account is set up by a club member for the entire group, a county agent or specialist must be added as an administrator to maintain settings and controls as set forth in these guidelines.

If you need assistance choosing a social media platform or setting up an account, please contact Amy Cole, accole@uaex.edu.

Privacy

It's not permissible to post confidential information. Think before you post. Be mindful of posting personal information you wouldn't want clients or co-workers to know. Don't post anything you wouldn't say in public. What's posted online is online forever. It's not just about the organization but also about protecting your own online reputation as well. Don't talk negatively about anyone, especially co-workers or competitors.

Your posts should never include:

• Sensitive financial or legal information.
• Confidential information.
• Sensitive or personal medical information that would violate HIPPA regulations.

Protect minors. When posting photos of 4-H youth or other minors, follow this format: First Name, First Initial of Last Name, County; ex.: Joe S., Anywhere County.

Protect your own privacy. Privacy settings on social media platforms should be set to allow anyone to see professional profile information.

Honesty

Make it clear that you are blogging/Tweeting/Facebooking, etc. in your role as an employee of UACES. Individuals’ use of social media can help to personalize the organization to the public.

Don't be afraid to be yourself, but do so respectfully. This includes not only the obvious (no ethnic slurs, offensive comments, defamatory comments, personal insults, obscenity, etc.), but also proper consideration of privacy and of topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory - such as politics and religion.

Nothing gains you notice in social media more than honesty - or dishonesty. Do not say anything that is dishonest, untrue or misleading. If you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, point it out.

If you make an error, be up front about your mistake and correct it quickly. If you choose to modify an earlier post, make it clear you have done so. If someone accuses you of posting something improper (such as their copyrighted material or a defamatory comment about them), deal with it quickly.

Quality

The quality of your posts reflects on your professional reputation and on the organization. Use clear, concise writing. Spell and grammar check. Proofread before posing. Use appropriate photos and properly edit them. If you have any doubt or need training, contact Amy Cole (501-671-2304).

Remember the mission of UACES is to provide research-based information to the public. Focus on providing non-biased, reliable, up-to-date information. Remember that writing for the web is different than writing fact sheets or journal articles. See “Tips for Writing for the Web” to make the most of your social media efforts.

When posting in your professional role, avoid making claims that may appear to endorse commercial products or services, political parties or viewpoints or religious affiliations.

Response

Social media requires regular attention. Check your sites at least a few minutes each day. Post fresh content several times a week. People will lose interest if your site isn’t kept current.

Be prepared to accept and respond to comments on your site. At the very minimum, comments should be monitored regularly. Some sites offer an option to moderate comments before they are posted. Consider moderating comments when this option is available.

Comments that are completely inappropriate can be hidden or removed. Post the following statement on your official UACES social media outlets:

We reserve the right to remove all offensive and unrelated comments on our social media outlets. You may contact Amy Cole, 501-671-2304.

Understand that not all comments will be positive, and respond to negative comments professionally and respectfully, and by providing additional information that may help resolve the issue. If you see a post that you think needs an official UACES response, please contact 501-671-2304.

If you are commenting on someone else’s site as an official part of your job, be sure to indicate who you are and your affiliation with the UACES. Leave only constructive, helpful comments.

Emergency Communication

If an emergency is unfolding, please do not post speculative information about the situation on your site. For proper emergency communications response, please refer to our communications department. If you discover erroneous information about an unfolding crisis, please contact Mary Hightower, 501-671-2126.