Gardner-Webb University enthusiastically supports its employees’ and officially recognized student clubs and organizations’ use of social media to bolster campus productivity and to facilitate conversations with key audiences. This page outlines both expectations and best practices for Gardner-Webb employees and officially recognized student clubs and organizations. For more information regarding social media use, Gardner-Webb University enthusiastically supports its employees’ and officially recognized student clubs and organizations’ use of social media to bolster campus productivity and to facilitate conversations with key audiences. This page outlines both expectations and best practices for Gardner-Webb employees and officially recognized student clubs and organizations. For more information regarding social media use, contact a member of the social media team.

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).”

Basic Expectations

The following describe basic expectations and requirements for all employees and student clubs and organizations who make use of social media.  Specifically, this Policy applies to all University accounts (departments, colleges, athletic teams). This policy applies to the accounts of recognized student clubs and organizations. This policy also applies to personal accounts to the extent they are (a) used in connection with or in furtherance of the University’s programs, activities or initiatives; or (b) used in connection with student organization/club activities, initiatives, viewpoints and information. This policy also sets forth guidelines we should all follow to avoid the appearance that our purely personal views are those of the University.

  • 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 faculty handbook.
  • Protect confidential and proprietary 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 can be held responsible for anything they post to social media sites, especially behavior that violates well-accepted standards for faculty and staff professional behavior.  These standards include, but are not limited to, the faculty handbook (II.9) and the personnel policy manual (2.3).
  • Remember to identify personal views as one’s own on your personal accounts. 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. OR simply “Opinions are my own.”
  • On student organization and clubs accounts, the following phrase must be included in some permanent location on their page(s) “The views or opinions expressed here do not represent the views and opinions of Gardner-Webb University.”
  • Respect copyright and fair use. When posting, employees and student clubs and organizations must 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 and student organizations and clubs 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, or 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. Employees must act 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 or student groups 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 prepare graduates for leadership and service in their professional careers and in their personal lives. Employees and student groups 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 and student clubs and organizations, 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 and student clubs and organizations 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 and student clubs and organizations can promote Gardner-Webb’s news and accomplishments by sharing content posted by top-level social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter,  Instagram, and YouTube or linking to the University’s website. Employees and student clubs and organizations should refrain from commenting on any legal matters involving the University; instead, contact the office of University Marketing and Communications for guidance.
  • Be accurate. Prior to posting information, 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. Be honest about your identity, clarifying whether you 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, student clubs and organizations and University accounts must register their social media accounts with the Office of Web Communications and in the case of a student club or organization page, also with the Assistant Director of Student Engagement. You will be asked to share administrative access with a staff member in the Office of Web Communications, who will use these credentials when the page’s content violates these guidelines, when it is necessary to ensure the University’s appropriate response to a crisis situation or simply to provide content continuity in the event that administrators leave that role. To register your page, complete the form below: