Social Media Guidelines

Gardner-Webb University enthusiastically supports its employees’ use of social media to bolster workplace productivity and to facilitate conversations with key audiences. This page outlines both expectations and best practices for institutional and personal use for Gardner-Webb employees. For more information regarding social media use, contact a member of the social media teamcreate new email.

Follow Gardner-Webb on Social Media

Social Media Definitions

Merriam-Webster defines social media as “forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos)”. Examples of social media include popular networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, blogs, wikis, and forums, all of which contain user-generated media.

Basic Expectations

The following describe basic expectations and requirements for all employees who make use of social media:

  • Academic Freedom. Gardner-Webb University encourages its faculty to be active participants in social networks and values and promotes the academic freedom of our faculty members. Nothing in these guidelines shall be interpreted as infringement or revision of the statement on Academic Freedom and Responsibility as published in the  opens in a new windowfaculty handbook.opens PDF file
  • Protect confidential and propietary information. Employees may not post confidential or proprietary information about Gardner-Webb, its students, employees, or alumni. For example, employees must follow all applicable federal requirements such as FERPA, HIPAA, and NCAA regulations, adhering to all applicable University privacy and confidentiality policies. Policies include, but are not limited to:
  • You are personally responsible for the content you publish on social media. Follow the same behavioral standards online as in real life. The same laws, professional expectations, and guidelines for interacting with students, parents, alumni, donors, media and any other University constituents apply online as they do in other areas of life. Employees must be mindful that they represent the University in all their social interactions and can be held liable for anything they post to social media sites, especially behavior that violates faculty and staff guidelines for professional behavior as outlined in the faculty handbook (II.9) and the personnel policy manual (2.3).
  • Remember to identify views as one’s own. If employees identify themselves as Gardner-Webb faculty or staff members, it must be clear that views expressed are not necessarily those of the institution. Employees may consider adding the following phrase in some permanent location on their page(s): The views expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of my employer, Gardner-Webb University.
  • Respect copyright and fair use. When posting, employees comply with the copyright and intellectual property rights of others and of the University. For guidance about fair use or copyrighted material, employees should contact the Dover Memorial Library staff.
  • Gardner-Webb logos may not be used for endorsements. Employees may not use the Gardner-Webb logo or any other University images or iconography on personal endorsements, such as to promote a product, cause, political party, or candidate, on social media sites without written permission from the Division of University Communications and Marketing. There are a select number of approved images and logos designed for faculty, staff, students and alumni to share on personal sites, and these items can be obtained by contacting the Division of University Communications and Marketing.
  • Respect University time and property. University computers and time on the job are reserved for University-related business as approved by supervisors and in accordance with the Technology Services Computer and Acceptable Use Policy. 
  • Terms of Service. Employees must observe the Terms of Service of any social media platform.

Best Practices

The following guidelines represent best practices which all employees are strongly encouraged to observe:

  • Be responsible stewards of the University’s voice. If employees post on behalf of Gardner-Webb, the tone and content of those posts should be consistent with Gardner-Webb’s greater purpose, which is to advance the Kingdom of God through Christian higher education. Employees should exercise good judgement and common sense, representing Gardner-Webb’s mission through thoughtful and professional online activity.
  • Monitor comments, and respond respectfully and appropriately. Welcoming and responding to comments is a good faith effort to promote conversation, which is the greatest benefit of social media use. Employees, however, can set up some sites to review and approve comments before they appear. Whenever possible, employees should refrain from deleting comments, even if the comments are unfavorable to Gardner-Webb. Instead, employees should seek to respond with thoughtful, appropriate answers, remembering that the tone of a response reflects upon the University’s voice. If you choose to delete comments of others, employees should have a policy on unacceptable posts that is easy for viewers to see.  For example, you can say that the following comments are subject to editing or rejection:
    • Comments including blatant profanity, racist, sexist or derogatory content;
    • Product advertisements;
    • Political support;
    • Comments that are off topic or SPAM;
    • Comments that make personal attacks on an individual.
  • Be aware of audience. Employees should remember that a social media presence can easily be made available to the public and consider this before publishing to ensure that any post(s) will not alienate, harm, or provoke any of Gardner-Webb’s key audiences, including prospective and current students, parents, current employees, alumni, colleagues, and industry peers. In doing so, employees should choose appropriate means (e.g. tone, medium) for reaching an intended audience.
  • Be an advocate for the University. Whenever possible, employees can promote Gardner-Webb’s news and accomplishments by sharing content posted by top-level social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or linking to the University’s website. Employees should refrain from commenting on any legal matters that are available online; instead, contact the Office of University Relations for guidance.
  • Be accurate. Prior to posting information, employees should make every effort to ensure that information is accurate by verifying information with a source first rather than posting a retraction later. Any unintentional errors should be corrected quickly and visibly by commenting on or updating the post with correct information.
  • Be transparent and authentic. Employees should be honest about their identity, clarifying if they are authorized by a supervisor to represent Gardner-Webb in social media. Employees should never hide their identity for the purpose of promoting or disparaging Gardner-Webb.
  • Be relevant. Social media sites are meant to be interactive, current and engaging. If employees find a site that is not relevant (i.e. has few posts or receives little traffic), contact the Office of Web & Digital Communications for guidance.
  • Register your site as an official University page. In order to secure official University recognition, and to benefit from the University’s promotion of your content, students and employees should register these pages with the Office of Web Communications. You will be asked to share administrative access with a staff member in the Office of Web Communications, who will use these credentials only when the page’s content violates these guidelines or when it is necessary to ensure the University’s appropriate response to a crisis situation. To register your page, complete the form below: