Social Media Policy

Approved by: Senior Staff

Approval Date: August 22, 2022

 

Related Documents:

Primary Office Responsible for Administering this Policy:

  • Office of Communications

Revision History:

  • Last updated: May 17, 2022
Contact: Stephanie Ramírez, Associate Director of Social and New Media

Social Media Policy

This policy is intended to help Amherst College staff, faculty and students who want to create and manage social media presences as College representatives on behalf of their academic or administrative departments. The Office of Communications maintains the official Amherst College accounts on various social media sites—including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and TikTok—and leads the overall College social media strategy. All social media accounts associated with Amherst College must comply with this social media policy.

If you have questions or suggestions about this policy or starting and/or managing social media accounts at Amherst, please contact social@amherst.edu or fill out a Social Media Request Form.

Note that other policies of the College may also apply to social media depending on the context, for example, the Acceptable Use Policy and the Trademark and Visual Identity Policy.

Launching New Accounts

Before creating a social media account on any platform for your academic or administrative department, you must contact the Office of Communications by completing a Social Media Request Form or emailing social@amherst.edu. Communications will help guide you in determining the most effective way to get your message across—whether it’s by creating a new account, utilizing an existing one or looking to other forms of communication. Before considering a new account, think about whether the College’s main accounts or other Amherst-affiliated accounts can meet your needs to communicate news, announcements, research, programs, etc., to the Amherst community.

Assigning Responsibility

All official College accounts must be registered with the Office of Communications and overseen by a staff or faculty member, who are ultimately responsible for approving and publishing content and managing the account. While students may create content on behalf of College departments or units, they are ultimately not responsible for the account’s content. Before launching any new account, consider whether you have the staff needed to keep your platforms frequently updated with unique and compelling content.

Student Groups

Social media accounts that are administered by current students on behalf of student-run clubs, organizations, classes (including class years), or initiatives are not sponsored by the College, and the College disclaims responsibility for the content they share.

If you are managing a student group account: 

  • Identify the account as student-run in the “bio” or “about” section.
  • Refrain from using Amherst’s official icon or logo in the avatar or cover images.
  • Remember that if you identify your Amherst affiliation, anything you post can reflect on the College.
  • Understand and adhere to each platform’s terms and conditions.
  • Contact social@amherst.edu or complete a Social Media Request Form to submit events, stories or images for promotion on official College accounts.

Accessibility

Amherst believes strongly in diversity, equity and inclusion and applies those values to our social media platforms. This work includes accessibility. To be recognized as an official College account, account managers are expected to follow these best practices:

Alternate Text: Social media platforms and management tools—including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn—allow for alternative text (or alt text) on images. Alt text is the description of an image that a screen reader uses to accurately describe it aloud to blind and visually impaired users. Images shared on College accounts are expected to include alt text. 

Text on Graphics: Because blind and visually impaired users often need a screen reader to access content online, account managers are expected to be mindful of the amount of text they include in graphics. Keep text on a graphic to a minimum, including on quote graphics, posters for events and informational content. Be sure that whatever text is on the image is also included in the alternate text and/or the caption. 

Captions: Any video shared on an official College account that includes audio or dialogue is expected to include closed or open captions, which benefit those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Closed captions can be turned off when viewing a video and may be used on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Open captions cannot be turned off when viewing a video and may be used on Instagram. For guidance on captions or for recommendations on the best captioning tools, please contact social@amherst.edu

Camel Case: Account managers are expected to abide by Camel Case, the method of capitalizing each word in a multi-word hashtag, for example, writing #AmherstCollege instead of #amherstcollege in a post or caption. The reason for using this format is that, in Camel Case, screen readers will understand that the hashtag contains multiple words and read them aloud correctly. If the words in a hashtag are not in Camel Case, the screen reader interprets it and reads it aloud as a single word.

Emoji Use: Use emojis in moderation because emoji descriptions are read aloud to blind and visually impaired users. Utilize one or two emojis, at the beginning or end of sentences in a post or caption.

Personal Use

Amherst does not seek to limit personal use of social media by faculty, staff or students. If you maintain a personal social media presence but there is no indication that you represent Amherst College, either by text or photos, you need not consult with the Office of Communications or be concerned with this policy.

If, however, your social media presence is representing your Amherst department, group, organization or activity, you are also representing your own professional reputation and the College. Even on your personal site, if you indicate that you are an Amherst faculty or staff member, visitors to the site may perceive that you are speaking for your department or the College, and it may be hard to contend otherwise if you are not explicit about that fact.

If you discuss professional issues on your personal social media site, we recommend you include a sentence similar to this one in your “bio” or “about” section: “The views expressed on this account are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Amherst College.”

Faculty or staff members who manage social media as representatives of Amherst are responsible for following all normal expectations for professional behavior as representatives of the College. Social media postings, including comments and responses, can be shared and stored by millions around the world.

For more information on Internet and computer usage at Amherst, view the Acceptable Use Policy.

It is important to note that use of the College’s name, wordmark or other institutionally identifiable information should meet the standards set forth in the Acceptable Use Policy, the Trademark and Visual Identity Policy, and this social media policy as well.

Use of Amherst brand elements on personal or non-affiliated accounts in any way, such as utilizing an Amherst logo, is prohibited, as they may be interpreted as representing the College.


Social Media Guidelines and Best Practices