1. Introduction

1.1 Lamar University is committed to making the best use of all available technology and innovation. This includes using all reasonable and cost-effective means to improve communication and interaction with the individuals and communities we serve.

1.2 Social media is a general term used to reference sites and activity on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or any other virtual hub where users interact. Other popular social media sites include, but are not limited to, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Flickr, WordPress and FourSquare.

1.3 Lamar University is a comprehensive public institution educating a diverse student body, preparing students for leadership and lifelong learning in a multicultural world, and enhancing the future of Southeast Texas, the state, the nation, and the world through teaching, research and creative activity, and service. Students and employees are encouraged to embrace social media sites as easy-access venues for streamlining and enriching engagement and communication.

1.4 To avoid major mistakes which could result in reputational, legal, and ethical issues, and misuse/abuse of well-functioning social media relationships, potential risks must be managed through a common-sense approach and framework and the proactive monitoring of the development of such applications. 

1.5 These guidelines must be read and adhered to in conjunction with all other information provided by Lamar University on the use of social media.

2. Definition of social media

2.1 For the purposes of these guidelines, social media is a type of interactive online media that allows parties to communicate instantly with each other or to share data in a public forum. This includes e-mail, online social forums, blogs, video and image-sharing websites and similar facilities.

2.2 There are many more forms of social media than could be listed here as this is a constantly changing area. Employees and students must follow these guidelines in relation to any university-affliliated social media that they use.

3. Legal

3.1 The use of social media must follow all applicable federal and state laws as well as system and university regulations and policies. Laws such as FERPA, and HIPAA must be followed along with all applicable NCAA regulations. Any content and/or online activity created by an individual or site moderator that violates these ordinances, or contains/leads to the release of a student’s private personal information is strictly prohibited and will be removed. 

3.2 FERPA: "The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education." (read more…)

3.3 Employees and contractors of Lamar University may not engage in any conversations or post any information regarding student records. Examples of student records include, but are not limited to, names, admission status, GPA, Social Security number, Student ID number, and any/all other information that would be covered by FERPA. All such communication with students or prospective students must be conducted using secure discussion platforms. Direct message applications through social media sites are not considered secure discussion platforms and must not be used as such.

3.4 Protect confidential medical records as specified by HIPAA: “The Privacy Rule protects all ‘individually identifiable health information’ held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper or oral.” Examples of protected information include, but are not limited to, “…the individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition, the provision of health care to the individual, or, the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual, and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe can be used to identify the individual.” (read more...)

3.5 The world of social media has changed the face of communication and recruitment in collegiate sports and all Lamar University employees must abide by NCAA regulations when interacting and communicating on social media platforms. Employees must refrain from knowingly contacting prospective student-athletes on social media platforms.

3.6 The university does not endorse or use any social network Internet communication service or media sharing service as a secure means of communication for online business transactions or matters involving personal information. The university will not ask for, nor should an individual send, credit card or payment information, classified information, privileged information, private information or information subject to non-disclosure agreements via any social network Internet communication service. 

3.7 As a site administrator or user of any type, Lamar University employees and students are required to obey the terms of use of all social media platforms and comply with applicable university policies as well as federal and state laws. 

4. Use of social media

4.1 Where the university encourages employees to make reasonable and appropriate use of social media websites as part of their work, it is recognized that it is an important part of how the university communicates with its audience and allows communication and networking between staff and university stakeholders.

4.2 Employees may, with explicit prior approval from their supervisor, contribute to the university's social media activities, for example by writing blog posts, managing social media accounts and running official social communications account for the university in accordance with the standards defined by the Lamar University Department of Marketing Communications.

4.3 Use of personal devices, such as laptops, tablets and mobile telephones, to access social media websites while at work is governed by policies set forth by the Office of Human Resources. Employees must adhere to those policies.

4.4 Employees must be aware at all times that while contributing to Lamar University's social media activities, they are representing the university. Employees who use social media as part of their job must adhere to the following safeguards:

  • All communications must have a purpose and a benefit to the university.
  • Supervisor approval must be secured before embarking on a public campaign using social media.
  • Links to source material are required. This will help reduce the possibility of misinformation and it will increase traffic.
  • All content must be reviewed for accuracy, with special attention to spelling and grammar. The content may not violate university, state or federal regulations, specifically those related to protected classes of individuals.
  • Privacy settings must be set to ensure maximum privacy and publishing of updates only to the intended audiences.

4.5 Lamar University employee communication through social media must not:

  • Breach confidentiality:
    • Reveal confidential intellectual property or information owned by Lamar University; or
    • Give away confidential information about an individual (such as a colleague or partner contact) or organization (such as a partner institution); or
    • Discuss the university's internal workings (such as agreements that it is reaching with partner institutions/customers or its future business plans that have not been communicated to the public).
  • Do anything that could be considered discriminatory against, or bullying or harassment of, any individual:
    • Make offensive or derogatory comments relating to sex, gender, race (including nationality), disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age; or
    • Use social media to bully another individual; or
    • Post images that are discriminatory and/or offensive or links to such content.
  • Bring Lamar University into disrepute:
    • Criticize or argue with students, customers, colleagues, partners, or competitors; or
    • Make defamatory comments about individuals or other organizations or groups; or
    • Post images that are inappropriate or links to inappropriate content.
  • Breach copyright:
    • Use someone else's images or content without permission; or
    • Failure to give acknowledgment where permission has been given.

4.6 Be respectful. If an audience member posts an upsetting comment, administrators should take a period of time to before replying to ensure the response is rational and professional. Social media is a place for discussion. It is a priority of Lamar University to ensure that stakeholders recognize LU accounts as legitimate forums for constructive communication with the university.

4.6 Employees must follow the terms of use for each social media platform. Social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, evolve constantly and it is the responsibility of every social media administrator to stay up-to-date on these terms.

5. Monitoring use of social media during work time

5.1 Lamar University reserves the right to monitor employees' Internet usage in accordance with the Information Security Policy. The university considers that valid reasons for checking an employee's Internet usage include suspicions that the employee has:

  • been spending an excessive amount of time using social media websites for non-work-related activity; or
  • acted in a way that is in breach of the rules set out in these guidelines.

5.2 Lamar University reserves the right to monitor and, within specific guidelines as defined within the Information Security Policy and associated IT policies retain information that it has gathered on employees' use of the Internet.

5.3 Access to particular social media websites may be withdrawn in any case of misuse.

6. Personal social media use

6.1 Lamar University recognizes that many employees make use of social media in a personal capacity. While they are not acting on behalf of the university, employees should be aware that they can appear to represent Lamar University if they are recognized as an employee.

6.2 Employees are permitted to indicate that they work for Lamar University. The employee's online profile (for example, the name of a blog or a Twitter name) may contain the university's name only if the content is focused to the area in which the employee works and it has been approved by the university's social media manager.

6.3 Employees who discuss their opinions related Lamar University on social media (for example, giving opinions on their specialization, department, college, or the sector in which the University operates), should include on their profile a statement along the following lines: "The views I express here are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer."

6.4 Lamar University strongly advises that the communications that employees make using personal social media comply with all of the requirements of section four and seven.

7. Registering your social media site

7.1 All university-affiliated social media sites are required to register with the Department of Marketing Communications. To register your site, please fill out the Social Media Registration Form. Registering your site will allow it to be added to the Lamar University Social Media Directory and recognized as an official Lamar University account.

7.2 Administrator rights for official university sites should only be assigned to permanent university employees. The assignment of certain duties to a temporary or student employee must be approved in advance by the Department of Marketing Communications. Send any requests to Social Media Manager.

7.3 All sites must have a minimum of 2 administrators. It is preferred that the LU Social Media Manager be included as one of the secondary administrators. Please contact the Social Media Manager for more information or to discuss how to meet these requirements.

8. Creating a social media profile

8.1 Photos: It is a best practice to obtain a photo release form from any individual identifiable in the photos you share. This can be done via written note, email or the standard photo release form. Please refer to the university's main social media accounts when thinking about the quality of your images. It is also recommended that all posted photos be edited to the following specifications: 

  • 72dpi resolution
  • .JPG or .PNG format

8.2 Logos: Where applicable, use the logo that best reflects the image and content being posted. Departmental/divisional and institutional logos are encouraged for posts pertaining to a particular area. The standard Lamar University logo can, upon approval from the Department of Marketing Communications, be used if the content pertains to more than one entity, such as recruitment material or campus photos. Refer to the university visual standards guide and the athletic visual standards guide for details on correct logo usage.

8.3 Profile logo/photo: The LU star logo by itself is prohibited for use on social media outside of the university's main social media profiles. Departments, programs and organizations can, however, use their institutional logo with the star included. Logos may not be altered including, but not limited to, the alteration of placement and changes in fonts or colors. Either the profile or cover photo of university social media accounts must show affiliation with the university's brand. Assistance in finding a suitable image can be found by contacting the university's Social Media Manager.

8.4 Account usernames/display names: Employees should develop unique and appropriate usernames and display names that accurately describe the department, program or organization. Employee managed sites are required to use some form of Lamar University in the site title. For example: “Lamar University Department of Physics,” or “ LU Department of Physics.” Named colleges and departments must be referred to using the approved name. Due to specific terms of use, the creation of a Lamar University affiliated Snapchat account is expressly prohibited before contacting the university Social Media Manager.

8.5 Proper Name: Lamar University must be referred to properly on all social media platforms in usernames, display names, descriptions, posts and pages. Use only the following approved versions of proper names for Lamar University:

  • Lamar University
  • LamarUniversity
  • LU
  • Lamar U
  • LamarU
  • Lamar Univ.
  • LamarUniv
  • Lamar University Cardinals
  • Lamar University Cards
  • LU Cardinals
  • LU Cards

The following versions are prohibited:

  • Lamar
  • Lamar Beaumont
  • Lamar State College Beaumont
  • Lamar Cardinals
  • Lamar Cards

8.6 Branding: Reinforce the university voice and brand by using approved Lamar University Branding Messages.

8.7 Profanity: No profanity of any kind is allowed on posts whether directly posted by the page, or shared from another page.

8.8 Political, racial & moral stances: Social media pages are to avoid addressing political, racial or morally motivated topics. No stance should be taken for or against an issue. Pages and posts should never endorse or denounce any political candidates whether holding office or running for office. Violating this section could result in removal of administrator access to the social media pages in question. 

8.9 Strategy: Social media is fun but must be used only with a plan. Employees considering a social media site should contact the Lamar University Social Media Manager.

Disclaimer: This Social Media Policy does not address paid social media advertisements (ads on social media sites promoting your entity, or ads promoting your entity's social media sites). For information on ad policy, contact the Department of Marketing Communications.

The Department of Marketing Communications reserves the right to alter, update or add to this policy at any time.

 Additional Reading

Do You Need a Social Media Account?

Getting Started with Social Media