General Recommendations

The keys to success in social media are being honest about who you are, being thoughtful before you post, and respecting the purpose and standards of the community where you are posting.

Be transparent. Be honest about your identity. If you are authorized by your supervisor to represent WPI in social media, say so. If you choose to post about WPI on your personal time, please identify yourself as a WPI faculty or staff member. Never hide your identity for the purpose of promoting WPI through social media.

In December 2009, the Federal Trade Commission implemented regulations requiring bloggers and those who write online reviews to reveal if they have been compensated in any way—a free copy of a book, dinner, complementary admission—or have a relationship to a company, product or service they review. Already a "best practice" for most bloggers, such disclosure is now being enforced.

A good resource about transparency in online communities is the Social Media Business Council’s Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit.

Be accurate. Make sure that you have all the facts before you post. It’s better to verify information with a source first than to have to post a correction or retraction later. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible; after all, that’s how you build community.

If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly. This will earn you respect in the online community.

Be respectful. You are more likely to achieve your goals or sway others to your beliefs if you are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person.

Be a valued member. If you join a social network like a Facebook group or comment on someone’s blog, make sure you are contributing valuable insights. Don’t post information about topics like WPI events or a book you’ve authored unless you are sure it will be of interest to readers. Self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being banned from websites or groups.

Be appropriate. Consider the impact of content, links, and photos that you choose to share. Remember that everything you post as a WPI community member affects the university’s reputation.

Consider your audiences. Social media often spans traditional boundaries between professional and personal relationships. Use privacy settings to restrict personal information on otherwise public sites. Choose profile photos and avatars carefully. Be thoughtful about the type of photos you upload.

Think before you post. There’s no such thing as a “private” social media site. Search engines can turn up posts years after the publication date. Comments can be forwarded or copied. Archival systems save information even if you delete a post. If you feel angry or passionate about a subject, it’s wise to delay posting until you are calm and clear-headed.

Maintain confidentiality. Do not post confidential or proprietary information about WPI, its students, its alumni or your fellow employees. Use good ethical judgment and follow university policies and federal requirements, such as FERPA. (LINK on WPI site)

If you discuss a situation involving individuals on a social media site, be sure that they cannot be identified. As a guideline, don’t post anything that violates the privacy of others or that you would not present in a public meeting.

Be considerate when posting, tagging, and captioning photos. Respect the privacy of others.

Respect university time and property. As stated in WPI’s Acceptable Use Policy, university computers and your work time are to be used for university-related business. It’s appropriate to post at work if your comments are directly related to accomplishing work goals, such as seeking sources for information or working with others to resolve a problem. You should maintain your personal sites on your own time using non-WPI computers.