The following are guidelines for administrators who represent Boston College through social media. They were developed by the Office of University Communications, which oversees the University's official social media presence and chairs BC's Social Media Council.

These guidelines provide tips for creating successful social media channels and for representing Boston College in an appropriate, authentic, transparent, and secure way. They also include cautions about potential pitfalls.

This page is an ongoing project; guidelines will be revised or updated as new social media platforms emerge, best practices evolve, or new concerns arise.

If you are a BC social media manager and you have a suggestion or question, please email social@bc.edu.

Social media should be part of a broader communication strategy. Consider the following questions, ideally before you launch a new channel, but even when it is already established.

  • What do you hope to achieve?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What channels would reach them most effectively?
  • Do you have the resources and commitment to run these channels well?
  • Are other related departments already doing something similar?
  • Do you need multiple channels? Would fewer, stronger channels be better?

 

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Instagram Photo: @madisonpolkowitz

Respond to inquiries and comments directed toward your channels wherever possible. Engagement is more effective than pushing out information. Proactive ways to engage an audience include:

  • Asking questions
  • Commenting on the information you're posting
  • Soliciting photos or feedback (if appropriate)
  • Retweeting or commenting on other posts
  • Developing a personality; avoiding robotic posts

 

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Instagram Photo: @bdweix

Don't guess or speculate about the answer to a University-related question or share information related to BC from unverified sources. If it is inaccurate, you risk starting or giving credence to a rumor.

  • If it's a question, either determine and relay the correct answer or refer the questioner to the appropriate website or department.
  • If someone posts something inaccurate to your site, politely correct it or remove it (if necessary).
  • Proofread posts to avoid typos and errors.
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Instagram Photo: @annalisedeal

Sharing information on social media is public dissemination.

  • Do not release confidential or proprietary information related to Boston College, its staff, students, alumni, or any member of the University community.
  • Do not allow fans or followers to reveal their private information during an exchange on an open channel. Take it offline if necessary.
  • Do not any release any campus news or information prematurely. If you're not sure, check first.
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Instagram Photo: @ibizhao

Remember that all posts on channels run by BC departments reflect on the University. Ground rules for any site that hosts conversations should be clearly posted and followed. Even if a poster is being rude or annoying, the response on behalf of BC should be courteous. Avoid appearing to endorse flame posts by others through retweets or other shares.

It is also important to be aware of the world around you. Do not post during times that would make you appear to be out of touch with current events and happenings.

  • For example, do not post a joyful photo in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack, or on the flipside, a serious or sad post during BC’s biggest game of the year.
  • If you schedule posts, always be aware of the dates and times you have messages planned. Be sure to remove or reschedule them if needed.

 

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Instagram Photo: @maddiewphotography

Regular evaluations of your efforts should be carried out to improve content and strategy, as well as to learn more about your audience. Analyze engagement on popular posts, both positive and negative, look at what was successful and what did not meet expectations, and be willing to change strategies and come up with new ideas. Social media is a lot of trial and error. It is not a project, but an ongoing effort.

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Instagram Photo: @christian.cavaliere

Based on the social media guidelines, it is clear that social media accounts need a good deal of attention by today’s common usage. Your department must have the resources and manpower to allocate to this endeavor.

Many University practitioners use students and/or graduate students to aid in the process. While this may be necessary, avoid total reliance on the student body.

  • A Boston College faculty or staff member must have administrative privileges to all accounts and is ultimately responsible for the content.
  • A plan should be prepared for summer and winter breaks when students are not available so the accounts do not go quiet for long periods of time.
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Instagram Photo: @phimasphotos

In an event of any emergency on campus, we ask that all social media accounts affiliated with the University refrain from posting and direct followers to the official Boston College accounts. Updates will also be posted on the Boston College Police and BC Emergency Management channels.

The following posts should be used on both Facebook and Twitter: “For updates on the current situation on campus, follow @BostonCollege. Thank you.”

Those in charge of social media accounts at Boston College should do the following:

  • Remove all schedule social media posts until the end of the crisis.
  • Refrain from posting on social media channels after referring followers to @BostonCollege.
  • Retweet and share any posts regarding the crisis from the official Boston College accounts and the BC Police and Emergency Management accounts.
  • Do not spread unverified facts or posts.
  • If you are unsure how to handle a situation or post, reach out to the social media team.
  • If you see a social media post that could be helpful in a crisis or investigation, contact the Boston College Police Department: 617-552-4444.

In critical situations, social media managers who are registered with OUC will be alerted via email and on the Social Media Council Facebook page.  

If you have questions about Boston College’s social media crisis communication plan, please reach out to Zanna Ollove, ollove@bc.edu.

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Instagram Photo: @kristian_singh

Crisis Communcation Social Media Accounts
@BostonCollege [Twitter]
/BostonCollege [Facebook]
@BCPoliceDept [Twitter]
/BCPolice [Facebook]
@BC_OEM [Twitter]
/BCEmergency [Facebook]