The mission of the Williston Northampton School is to educate students to live with purpose, passion, and integrity. Those ideals also extend into the world of social media, where both the tools—and the challenges they create—continue to rapidly evolve.
Williston supports the creative and innovative use of social media by its community members in a way that reflects the best of what online spheres have to offer—interesting, informative content that sparks honest, thoughtful, and respectful commentary.
These guidelines are designed to help Williston community members who contribute to either personal or school-related social media do so in a respectful, professional, and relevant way that both protects their own reputations and that of the school. The guidelines are a working document, and will be revised as social media opportunities continue to grow and change.
Keep in mind that the Communications Office regularly reviews all forms of social media with respect to the school. If you discover any inappropriate or inaccurate content, please contact the Communications Office right away.
Be transparent. Be honest about who you are. If you are posting as a Williston representative, say so. If you’re posting on your own time, but belong to the Williston community, say that, too. Never disguise who you are, for the purpose of promoting the school or any other reason.
Be accurate. Make sure you have all the facts before you post and that you’re citing proper sources. It’s better to verify the information first than have to post a correction later. Remember that you are personally responsible for any content you publish on blogs, feeds, or other platforms.
Admit mistakes. Being thoughtful before you post is paramount, but don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes. Be upfront. Make corrections quickly. If you’ve modified an earlier post to correct an error, make sure that’s also clear.
Be respectful. Exercise good judgment when you’re posting online. Refrain from comments that can be interpreted as demeaning, inflammatory, or insulting. Not only is this polite, but under most acceptable use policies, users can be banned for harassment, whether explicit or implied.
Be a valued member. Take a moment before you post and ask yourself, “Am I adding to this conversation?” Make sure that you’re submitting insights that will further the dialogue. There’s a fine line between healthy debate and inflammatory remarks. Be careful, considerate, and remember that not every criticism deserves a response.
Consider your audience. Consider carefully before you publish. Talk to other readers like you would talk to real people. Don’t be afraid to convey your own personality and say what’s on your mind, but try to post content that’s positive, open-ended, and invites response and comments.
Be thoughtful. There’s no such thing as private in social media. What you put on social media may be difficult to remove. Posts and images (even hidden ones) can turn up in search engines. Comments (even those you delete) can be forwarded or copied. Make sure you’re aware of privacy settings on social media sites, but understand that what you post will be available to a much wider audience than you might anticipate.
Respect copyright and fair use. As with any other sources, always give people proper credit for their work. Put captions on photos, add links to original material, include a hat tip (h/t) if the idea came from another place, and quote sources where appropriate. Make sure you have the right to use something before you use it.
Maintain confidentiality. Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Williston, its students, or employees. This includes posting personally identifying information about potential job candidates or posting about other campus visitors without their knowledge. Use good ethical judgment and follow federal and school policies.
Plan with us. Let us know before you create a school-related Twitter feed, Facebook page, blog or other social media site. Because we know what already exists—and regularly review social media with respect to the school—the Communications Office can help you be consistent with other media and avoid duplicating efforts. We can also help with technical aspects of site and make sure your content is fully promoted across all platforms.
Don’t forget your day job. Social media is wonderful, but it can be distracting. Make sure that your online activities enhance, not detract from, your work. If you work at Williston, make sure to maintain your personal sites on your own time using non-Williston computers.