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Social Media Guidelines

so·cial me·di·a
noun

interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.

Social media platforms include FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn, and many others.

Guidelines

Caltech’s social media guidelines are set forth to serve as a touchstone to help all members of the Caltech community who use social media to promote the work and culture of the institute. These guidelines are intended to be considered together with, and do not replace, existing policies or procedures.

For those members of the Caltech community who manage or maintain social media accounts specifically to represent Caltech entities (such as academic or administrative units, labs, or clubs), there are additional expectations of you and additional resources available to you.

For everyone in the Caltech community

Be respectful

Positive and negative content are legitimate parts of any conversation. It’s okay to accept the good and bad, but not the ugly. Know your audience and consider how your post could affect them -- before you post. And don’t tell other people’s secrets or violate their intellectual property rights. Make sure you understand Caltech’s policies on electronic resources, harassment, etc.

Always keep in mind Caltech’s Honor Code, which states that "no member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community." 

Be authentic

Represent yourself accurately and be transparent about your role at Caltech if it pertains. Admit when you make mistakes and correct inaccurate information. Consider that you are in an academic environment.

Be engaged

Social media provides a place to foster community and conversation – be part of that!

Be aware

Social media is “real life.” How you behave and communicate should be no different than you would via e-mail, public speech, classroom lecture, conversation with friends, or a poster on a wall. Anything considered inappropriate offline is likely also inappropriate online. When in doubt about whether to share or not, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Publishing on a social network is still publishing – if you don’t want something shared rapidly with the world, better to not post online.

For those representing Caltech entities

Be on-brand

Remember that you are representing your organization as well as the Institute. Members of the Caltech community may not represent their personal opinions as approved or endorsed by the Institute. The Caltech name and representative symbols may not be used to endorse any opinion, product, private business, cause, or political candidate.

Ensure that anyone following your account knows who you represent. We discourage individuals from using personal accounts as representatives for a division or unit, knowing that people’s roles with the institute may change or cease.

If you are posting from a personal account and identify yourself as being associated with Caltech, please include a disclaimer in your bio that clearly states “the opinions represented here are my own, not those of Caltech.”

Please ensure that you are following the most up-to-date editorial style guidelines and Identity Guide.  

Be prepared

Plan your strategy before launching a new account or campaign – reach out to OSC for help if you need it. Prepare your comment policy and community guidelines before you need them. Ensure at least two Caltech employees have up-to-date access credentials for any account.

Be accurate

If you can’t validate it, don’t post it.

Be responsive

If you maintain an account representing the institution, you are a customer service representative for the brand. Reply to questions, even if the answer is basic, such as “we encourage you to review the information available on Caltech.edu” or “we encourage you to reach out to XYZ for the answer to your question.” You are also expected to actively moderate comments (when/where applicable) that may be in violation of the host site’s terms or which may be seen as threatening or harassing.

Be good

Ensure you are aware of and adhering to the terms and conditions set forth by any social network you choose to employ. Be responsible for understanding the basics of copyright law and ensuring you are behaving legally and ethically in regards to other people’s work. Obtain permission before posting a photo of someone.

Be safe

Ensure you are following best practices for safe computing and routinely checking your accounts for any evidence of intrusion. 

Be data-driven

Don’t “spray and pray.” Social networks provide valuable data related to the things you share. Make a plan and regularly review your successes and failures to advance your efforts.

Ask for help

If you are unsure about the appropriateness of a post or find yourself on the receiving end of abuse, threats, or other red-flag behavior, bring your concerns to the Office of Strategic Communications' Social Media Manager or Director of Digital Communications immediately.