Guidelines When Posting as an Individual

Bellevue College uses social media to supplement traditional press and marketing efforts. Employees are encouraged to share college news and events that are a matter of public record with their family and friends. While the guidelines below apply to those instances where there is the potential for confusion about your role as a Bellevue College agent/expert versus personal opinion, they are good to keep in mind for all social media interactions.

A view of BC's campus on a sunny day.

General Guidelines

Linking straight to the information source is an effective way to help promote the mission of Bellevue College and build community.

When you are using social media for personal purposes and might be perceived as an agent/expert of Bellevue College, you need to make sure it is clear to the audience that you are not representing the position of the college or Bellevue College policy.

When posting to a social media site, you should:

Do No Harm

Let your social networking do no harm to Bellevue College or to yourself, whether you’re navigating those networks on the job or off.

Does It Pass the Publicity Test?

If the content of your message would not be acceptable for face-to-face conversation, over the telephone, or in another medium, it will not be acceptable for a social networking site. Ask yourself, would I want to see this published in the newspaper or posted on a billboard tomorrow or 10 years from now?

Be Aware of Liability

You are personally responsible for the content you publish on blogs, wikis, or any other form of user-generated content. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be copyright infringement, defamatory, proprietary, libelous, or obscene (as defined by the courts). Increasingly, employers are conducting web searches on job candidates before extending offers. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time—be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you.

Maintain Transparency

The line between professional and personal business is sometimes blurred—be thoughtful about your posting’s content and potential audiences. Be honest about your identity. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as a BC faculty or staff member. However, please be clear that you are sharing your views as an individual, not as a representative of Bellevue College. If you identify yourself as a member of the BC community, ensure your profile and related content are consistent with how you wish to present yourself to colleagues.

Be a Valued Member

If you join a social network, make sure you are contributing valuable insights. Don’t hijack the discussion and redirect by posting self-/organizational-promoting information. Self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being banned from websites or groups.

Think Before You Post

There’s no such thing as a “private” social media site. Search engines can turn up posts and pictures years after the publication date. Comments can be forwarded or copied. Archival systems save information even if you delete a post. If you feel angry or passionate about a subject, it’s wise to delay posting until you are calm and clear-headed. Only post pictures that you would be comfortable sharing with the general public (current and future peers, employers, etc.).

Take the High Ground

If you identify your affiliation with Bellevue College in your comments, readers may associate you with the college, even with the disclaimer that your views are your own. Remember that you’re most likely to build a high-quality following if you discuss ideas and situations civilly. Don’t pick fights online.

Respect Your Audience

Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in BC’s community. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered sensitive, such as politics and religion. You are more likely to achieve your goals if you are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person.

Correct Mistakes

If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and be quick with your correction. If you’re posting to a blog, you may choose to modify an earlier post—just make it clear that you have done so.

Monitor Comments

Most people who maintain social media sites welcome comments—it builds credibility and community. However, you may be able to set your site so that you can review and approve comments before they appear. This allows you to respond in a timely way to comments. It also allows you to delete spam comments and to block any individuals who repeatedly post offensive or frivolous comments.

Protect Your Identity

While you should be honest about yourself, don’t provide personal information that scam artists or identity thieves could use. Don’t list your home address or telephone number. It is a good idea to create a separate email address that is used only with social media sites.

A common practice among individuals who write about the industry in which they work is to include a disclaimer on their site, usually on their “About Me” page. If you discuss higher education on your own social media site, we suggest you include a sentence similar to this: “The views expressed on this [blog, website] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bellevue College.” This is particularly important if you could be perceived to be in a leadership role at BC.

Don’t Use the BC Logo or Make Endorsements.

Do not use any Bellevue College marks or images on your personal online sites.

Do not use BC’s name to promote or endorse any product, cause, or political party or candidate.