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Downloadable VPA Social Media Guidelines PDF 136KB

The College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Office of Communications has created a set of guidelines for those who are involved in the creation and maintenance of social media accounts associated with VPA. If you have any questions about the guidelines below, please contact Erica Blust at esblust@syr.edu.

The Guidelines

While we understand that rules that govern social media are its antithesis, this document is a means of sharing core brand and social media guidance for those involved in creating/maintaining social media accounts associated with VPA and its schools, departments, programs, classes, and clubs/groups (sanctioned or otherwise).
These are guiding principles for the activities of the college.

VPA’s Social Media Statement


VPA embraces the use of social media. Social media provides a valuable tool for developing and maintaining relationships with students, alumni, donors, parents, and the global community. Social media affords VPA a forum to engage in discussions and share insights, news, and experiences. We value the two-way conversation and welcome this opportunity to receive feedback.

Remember that the goals of VPA social media should correlate with our mission, vision, and values and:

  • Establish/maintain the “vibrancy of VPA”–a place and community of people who create a brand together that’s bigger than each maintain independently
  • Engage prospective students
  • Establish relationships with incoming students
  • Maintain relationships with current students, alumni, and friends/donors
  • Share news and promote events (exhibitions, lectures, performances, etc.)
  • Share exciting and unique content
  • Reach a wider, more diverse audience
  • Learn about the target community and its needs/interests
  • Educate the public about the overall awesomeness of VPA

Both in professional and institutional roles, VPA employees and students should follow the same behavioral standards online as they would in real life. The same ethics, laws, professional expectations, and guidelines for interacting with each other, students, parents, alumni, donors, media, and other University constituents apply online as in the real world.

Social media includes web- and mobile-based technologies that are used to turn communication into interactive dialogue among organizations, communities, and individuals. Social media allows us to share our story via words, images, and video.
Currently, the social media platforms used most regularly by VPA are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. As social media continues to grow, VPA will evaluate the advantages of new and different platforms. Links to all current VPA social media accounts may be found on the footer (bottom) of the college website, vpa.syr.edu.

General Guidelines


If you are involved in creating/maintaining social media accounts associated with VPA and its schools, departments, programs, classes, and clubs/groups, keep in mind VPA’s mission and vision:

  • Mission: the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University is committed to the education of cultural leaders who will engage and inspire audiences through performance, visual art, design, scholarship, and commentary. We provide the tools for self-discovery and risk-taking in an environment that thrives on critical thought and action.
  • Vision: the vision of the College of Visual and Performing Arts is founded upon the belief that art and scholarship can affect change.

Respect copyright and fair use laws. When citing the work of another person or organization, professional bloggers, like journalists, will use proper attribution as well as a link (if applicable). Trademarks such as logos, slogans, and digital content (art, music, photos, etc.) may require permission from the copyright owner. It is your responsibility to seek that permission if you intend to use any such trademarked content.

Be honest about your identity. If you choose to post about VPA on your personal time, please identify yourself. Never hide your identity for the purpose of promoting VPA through social media.

Create a system with a backup plan. If an unexpected situation arises it is important that multiple individuals have access to existing social media accounts. We have had situations in the past where individuals were unable to access important accounts.

Do not post material that is harassing, obscene, defamatory, libelous, threatening, hateful, or embarrassing to any person or entity. Do not post words, jokes, or comments based on an individual’s gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age, or religion. Posts should be dignified and in good taste and should not contain vulgar or obscene words or images. Make sure that your conduct is consistent with the policies of the University. (University policies may be found at supolicies.syr.edu.)

Think before you post, remembering that anything you share within social media--even within a closed network--is not private. It can and will be shared, stored, and spread globally. Don’t post anything online you wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing on the front page of the newspaper.

Anything you post in your role as a VPA representative reflects on the institution. Be professional and respectful at all times on your social media site. Do not engage in arguments or extensive debates on the site.

We all make them. When you do, correct them promptly.

Starting Something New

If your area/class/group within VPA would like to use social media, first consider whether or not it is the right channel to accomplish your goals. If it is, check to make sure your area/class/group doesn’t already have an existing account that you can use. Once you have an account, be familiar with these guidelines to minimize any potential inconsistencies/degradation to our brand values. It is our hope that all VPA social media sites:

  • have a particular goal/mission
  • have a particular audience in mind
  • have a strategy for keeping information up-to-date and a process to ensure ongoing activity
  • have a process for measuring success
  • have cover/profile imagery/icons that are aligned with the VPA brand*

So that all accounts either maintain relevance and timeliness or are closed, it is suggested that all accounts have no less than two administrators. If students create and/or assume responsibility for accounts, there should be several students from different years listed as administrators and/or a faculty/staff administrator.

Any outgoing administrator should be replaced by another who will succeed the remaining administrators so there is consistency in the maintenance of the account.

If and when any account becomes inappropriate, irrelevant and/or unkempt, VPA will take actions to remove the account to avoid irreparable damage to the college/brand.

*To obtain branded profile images for your account, contact Erica Blust, esblust@syr.edu.

Handling Negative Posts


When you’ve developed a vibrant social media community, it’s inevitable that you’ll get some negative posts. Most of these posts, handled well, create an opportunity to strengthen your community by solving a problem or generating a good discussion. Some may require a team response. Here’s an overview of what to do.

It’s important to be calm, thoughtful, and strategic when dealing with a negative post. The person who wrote the post is often upset and may have launched a personal attack; never respond in kind. Take the time to consider whether and how to respond.

Make sure you know the facts and current University policies and procedures related to the post. Contact a supervisor in the affected area. He or she may have handled similar issues before and can help you craft a response. In some cases, you may want to send an e-mail to the person who wrote the post to get additional facts.

Often people who are upset simply want to know their complaint has been heard. Saying “I’m sorry that you’re unhappy. How can I help?” can go a long way toward turning a complaint into a conversation.

An apology conveys that the University has done something wrong. If you, your supervisor, and the supervisor of the affected area agree that a mistake was made, then an apology is appropriate.

In many cases, the person who wrote the post will be willing to talk with you if you provide your work email address. This is important to preserve people’s privacy or to get all the facts before finding a resolution. If you and the person work out a solution, consider whether to add a post that you successfully resolved the situation.

Social media depends on conversations to thrive. And one of social media’s great strengths is its ability to help identify issues. It’s good practice to thank people for their posts, even if their post is a complaint or otherwise negative. Use judgment here—you don’t want to thank someone for posting something that violates community guidelines—but saying thanks is a way to underscore VPA’s commitment to personal attention and civil discussion. 

Sometimes social media posts are so brief that they can be misunderstood. Make sure your intent is clear. You also may want to be sure you understood the intent of the person who posted. If the person seems really upset or the topic is sensitive, you may want to do this offline.

Often a broad, hostile statement draws no attention at all. Keep an eye on it, and if no conversation develops, leave it alone. You may want to contact the person privately to see if you can provide assistance. 

Frequently, other members of your social media community will spontaneously rise to the University’s defense with counterarguments and useful information. Allow time for this to happen. 

Every social media channel—Facebook, YouTube, etc.—has rules in its Terms of Service regarding hate speech, harassment, and similar attacks. Cite these rules when you remove such posts and, if necessary, block repeat offenders. 

When the option is available, place a disclaimer on your social media networks that describes your own code of conduct and what you may do if broken. (See VPA’s Facebook page as an example.)