Information Technology Services

Social Media Policy and Guidelines

Definition of Social Media

Social Media: Includes all methods of interaction online in all forms of user generated and distributed content, including but not limited to, blogs, social networking sites (facebook, twitter, myspace), and wikis.

Professional Use: Refers to using social media to advance a segment or function of Bethel University as part of your job responsibilities.

Personal Use: Refers to things you may do to socialize or advance yourself personally, although this may include some professional activities such as networking or promoting your academic research or writing.


It is in Bethel University’s interest—and we believe, in each employee’s interest—to be aware of and participate in social media—the information, interactions, and idea exchange available via the internet. As an institute of higher education, we believe in the importance of open exchange, learning, and honest discourse.

In addition, Bethel University has always encouraged employees to be champions on behalf of the organization by spreading the word about Bethel’s mission, vision, and values. The rapidly growing phenomenon of blogging, social networks, and other forms of online electronic publishing are emerging as unprecedented opportunities for outreach, information-sharing, and advocacy.

The goal of this policy is to guide employees regarding how their use of social media interacts with their responsibilities as a Bethel employee, with the goal of ensuring positive experiences and consistent brand representation for the university. This policy is not related to student or prospective student use of social computing.

Personal Use

While social media offers great opportunities for Bethel University employees to communicate and collaborate, both internally and externally, it also brings equally great responsibilities. Social media blurs the lines between personal and professional as no other technology has before. By virtue of identifying yourself as a Bethel University employee within a social network, you are now connected to your colleagues, managers, and even Bethel University’s students, prospective students, donors, parents, and other friends.

As an employee of Bethel University, your online postings always have the potential to impact the university, even those you make on a personal level. As such, please conduct your online engagement in accordance with Bethel’s Covenant for Life Together, the Employee Handbook, and the Bethel Network and Computer Acceptable-use Policy.

Your online postings should always represent your personal point of view and not necessarily that of Bethel University. When posting your point of view, you should neither claim nor imply you are speaking on Bethel University’s behalf. When appropriate, please be clear to indicate that the views expressed on your posts are your own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bethel University.

Professional Use

As mentioned above, professional use refers to using social media to advance a part or activity of Bethel University, such as a department (i.e., alumni, admissions, biology), as part of your job responsibilities. The guidelines in this area are meant to ensure consistency and quality in representation of Bethel University in social media, and also to ensure that departments and offices are not creating redundancies, or sending competing or mixed messages to valued Bethel audiences.

  1. Representing Bethel University as a whole is reserved for the Office of Communications and Marketing and the Office of the President. No unauthorized person or group should seek to speak for the university or secure an account or name that represents the entirety of Bethel University.
  2. Representing segments of Bethel University (i.e., admissions, alumni, church ministries) are best done by the office most closely related to these functions. Those seeking to represent their area in social media should first contact the Office of Communications and Marketing, which will advise on naming (to avoid duplication and ambiguity both internally and externally) and provide best practice tips and resources for representing a segment of Bethel University. In addition, the Office of Communications and Marketing will maintain a list of official social media accounts, the offices that maintain them, and contact information for each. If an office or department already has an official group or account at the time of this policy creation, please contact the Office of Communications and Marketing.
  3. Accounts created for offices and departments should not be tied to employee personal information—email addresses, passwords, etc. Rather, accounts should be established that can be shared by multiple individuals in each area. This will ensure smooth transitions for the accounts as employees change over time.
  4. If use of a Bethel University logo is desired, contact the Office of Communications and Marketing, which will supply an approved and appropriately sized logo. Do not resize, crop, personalize, or otherwise distort the university logo.
  5. Any online advertising (paid and free) needs to be approved by the Office of Communications and Marketing for consistency and quality.
  6. Any use of photography must adhere to photography use guidelines established by the Office of Communications and Marketing.
  7. Remember that you are legally responsible for anything you post online. Ensure you abide by copyright and fair use laws. Always cite sources and references and, whenever possible, link back to them.
  8. Online postings should not disclose any information that is confidential or proprietary to the university, or to any third party that has disclosed information to Bethel University.
  9. If a member of the news media or a blogger contacts you about an online posting that concerns the business of Bethel University, please refer that person to the Office of Communications and Marketing.
  10. If you make an error, be up front about your mistake and correct it quickly. In a blog, if you choose to modify an earlier post, make it clear that you have done so. The key with social media is to be as transparent as possible.

Bethel University gratefully acknowledges the following sources in the creation of its social computing policy:

Easter Seals