Social Media Guidelines
- Applies to:
- Current Students
- Full-time faculty
- Approved by:
- Marketing & Communications
- Issued: April 10, 2015
- Last updated: April 18, 2023
Your guidebook for sharing Calvin's story through social media.
Calvin supports the use of social media by faculty, staff, and students to connect with their community as part of their professional affiliation with the University. Our team believes in collaboration, coordination, and cross-divisional promotion with a general philosophy that fewer accounts are stronger and more strategic than many small accounts. Before you launch a social media presence for your school, department, or program, consider whether the university’s main accounts can meet your needs.
These guidelines serve to better inform students, faculty, and staff of the opportunities and outcomes associated with social networking. These guidelines are not intended to be a comprehensive “how to” guide, nor are they meant to encourage individual offices and programs to create their own social media platforms. Rather, these guidelines are intended to help you evaluate whether doing so will help you meet your goals.
Please note: The guidelines in this policy pertain to university-related accounts. For guidelines regarding personal accounts of faculty, staff, and students, please reference the Responsible Use of Technology policy. The use of technology, including social media, in any way that is contradictory to the principles of the university codes of conduct (Faculty Handbook, Staff Handbook, Student Conduct Code) is prohibited. Our communications will reflect not only on the university but also on our witness as Christians.
As a student, faculty, or staff member, your actions online and offline directly and indirectly represent Calvin University. As a community that yields to the leadership of Jesus Christ, Calvin University expects responsible use of technology by enfranchised users. Please be mindful of how your words, actions and images may be perceived, and know your audience before you post.
Marketing and Communications (MarCom) reserves the right to remove comments, messages, or user posts that violate its community guidelines, as outlined below:
- Use of language that includes vulgarities or otherwise conveys hate speech, bullying, discrimination, and/or criminal activity
- Disclosure of legally confidential information
- Copyright or trademark violations
- Promotional posts that advertise people, products, and services, or that make solicitations
- Excessive comments that are unrelated to and/or detract from the conversation surrounding the original post
- Duplicative comments—only the first comment will be retained
Be Mindful of What You Post
Given our current digital age, be mindful that posts can never be totally eradicated because of archival systems, forwards, retweets, screenshots etc. Please think before you post, especially when discussing something potentially sensitive.
- Be respectful
- Be Transparent
- Listen to what your followers are saying
- Be timely
- Be a valued community member
- Monitor comments
- Join in on conversations
When in doubt, feel free to reach out to MarCom: email@example.com.
Policies for Calvin-associated Accounts
To protect the Calvin brand and avoid situations that result in damage to the reputation of the university-in addition to legal (including HIPAA, FERPA, and NCAA compliance) and ethical issues - social media accounts using the Calvin name must be registered with the MarCom Division.
- All accounts will have two employees as administrators.
- Accounts will be registered with a @calvin.edu email address.
- If an employee who is an administrator leaves Calvin or no longer wishes to be an account administrator, it is the department's responsibility to remove that person as administrator and designate another employee to that role.
- Accounts inactive for more than four months will receive a notice to delete the account. In our digital age, it is too easy for inactive accounts to get hacked and produce inappropriate content, which we don’t want especially if “Calvin” appears in the name of the handle.
- If you have accounts that will be managed by student workers, be sure a staff person in your office always has access to them. Students leave and sometimes they take the log-in information with them. Be sure you can still get into your account, even after the student worker has left.
- If you’re planning to use the Calvin logo in your social handle, please adhere to Calvin University’s Brand Guidelines.
- If you have an account that is no longer active, or you come across an account that may have been made by a student in the past and you’ve lost access to the account, we would like to help resolve these issues.
Additionally, in your work with social media, please be aware of the following pages and policies that guide and govern Calvin’s identity and community.
Calvin University Content Pillars
We plan our content calendar with these pillars in mind: Christian faith, academic excellence, mission, student life, athletics, and messaging that supports enrollment and advancement. Stories about research initiatives, campus events, celebrations, and partnerships, as well as profiles for students, alumni, and faculty, are prioritized in content planning to support these pillars.
Registering Calvin Accounts
Registering a New Account
If you’ve decided that creating a new account is in your department’s best interest, you have the capacity to create consistent content, and you’ve decided which social media platform is best for your audience, the next step is to register your account.
To register an account, please send the username and password details to MarCom and the contact information of the person who will be overseeing the account.
Registering an Existing Account
If you have an account that is no longer active, or you come across an account that may have been made by a student in the past and you’ve lost access to the account, please reach out to us so that we can help resolve these issues.
Please note: Calvin main channels will only amplify content from registered accounts who are following social media guidelines.
Are you thinking of making a new account?
Here are some questions to help you determine whether you should start a new social media account:
- What are the goals of the program or department?
- Will creating a social media handle help or hinder these goals?
- Who is our audience?
- Will having a social media presence target my audience more than through Calvin University and university-associated social handles?
- Could the content we want to offer be shared through existing social media accounts?
- Does my program or department currently have the resources to commit to using social media on a regular basis?
- Would we be able to guarantee long-term resources for social media?
Discussing these questions can often bring clarity on the importance of social media for a group, program, or department. If you would like help in determining whether social media is strategic, considering your goals, please contact MarCom: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accessible social media gives an equal opportunity for people with disabilities to interact with content, communicate their needs, and most importantly find a community to share experiences with. It is important for everybody – no matter their identities – to feel seen by brands they wish to do business with. Please think about such things when you post:
- Adding Alt text to photos
- Capitalize the first letter of each word in a hashtag
- Ex. #WeAreCalvin not #wearecalvin
- Adding captions to videos
- Pay attention to color contrast for readability
Please adhere to Calvin University brand guidelines when creating content on social media.
The MarCom team has resources available for visual and graphic design needs; feel free to reach out to us so we can provide you with the proper training.
We allow university departments and programs to advertise through Calvin University's main social platforms using their own budget dollars. Costs are varied but targeted social media advertising can be achieved with as little as $50. With this approach we work directly with the program or department to create an advertising strategy that aligns with their goals and adheres to our social media policy. These too are considered on a case-by-case basis.
If you would like to run digital advertisements through Calvin University’s main accounts, please fill out this form and MarCom will connect with you to go over your goals and strategies.
Tips and tricks
Maybe you want to start an account but you’re not sure which handle is best for your audience. Enjoy these tips and tricks to make the most of your Calvin-related social media presence in some of today’s top channels.
Facebook is a social network designed for building community. If you’re looking to engage with a particular audience, this might be the platform for you!
Twitter is a social network designed for conversations. If you desire to put out information that is timely, this might be the platform for you!
Instagram and Instagram Reels
Instagram is a social network designed for sharing images primarily, and with the rise of Reels, has become a channel to share video as well.
LinkedIn is a social network designed to help users network professionally online. It is currently growing among Gen Z as they begin to enter the workforce.
Other Social Media Handles
We would prefer to consult with you before opening social handles such as:
(For all above platforms)
- Determine consistent hashtags. Avoid creating random hashtags for each post.
- Utilize key university-wide hashtags:
- #KnightsForLife (alumni)
- #CalvinBound (admissions)
- Departments and offices
- Course code: