Social Media at the California Charter Schools Association
These are the official guidelines for social media at CCSA. If you're an CCSA employee or contractor creating or contributing to blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds, or any other kind of social media both on and off myschool.org--these guidelines are for you. We expect all who participate in social media on behalf of CCSA to be trained, to understand and to follow these guidelines. Failure to do so could put your future participation at risk. The Communications Team will keep you informed of any changes to these guidelines as technologies evolve and new social networking tools emerge.
Social Media Philosophy
CCSA's social media philosophy is to use social media tools to execute the mission of leading "the charter public school movement in California in order to increase the number of students attending high quality charter schools." To that end, our goal is to create an empowered online community for charter school supporters by endeavoring to:
Energize our Brand
As part of an effort to reach a new generation of members and supporters, CCSA will use social media tools, most frequently Facebook and Twitter, to update the community about Association services and charter schools in fun and, when appropriate, humorous, ways.
Technology gives people greater access to unfiltered information, but people also get to choose what information they want to receive. If CCSA wants to reach these users, we have to provide not only the information we want them to have, such as how to learn more about Association products and services, but also information they find interesting and useful. This will result in increased visibility for CCSA and charter schools in the community. And because social media is about sharing information, it is very likely that the on-line community will take our messages and distribute them to their own networks.
Provide Reliable Information Resources to the Public
CCSA is recognized as one of the leaders in the charter school movement across the county. The information disseminated by our organization is accurate and social media will not change that. What social media will enable us to do is reach audiences that didn't know they needed our services. We can use these new tools to promote our organization in unique ways, such as referencing articles about charter schools' needs and linking to CCSA resources to help.
Engage Our Employees, Members, and Supporters
Having a Facebook or Twitter presence not only reminds our supporters that we are an active part of the community, but also enables us to reach potential members, parents and donors who may not be as familiar with us.
In order to create that community, CCSA employees who oversee social media sites should aim to:
- Be interesting. Distributing boring information, or important information in a boring manner, is the quickest way to be ignored in the social media landscape.
- Post regularly. Providing regular updates will remind the public that we are a vital part of the community and help stake our on-line presence.
- Encourage interactivity. Social media is a two-way street. We will seek to promote reader input and respond quickly to any query received via our social media sites.
Rules of Engagement
Be transparent. Your honesty--or dishonesty--will be quickly noticed in the social media environment. If you are blogging about your work at CCSA, use your real name, identify that you work for CCSA, and be clear about your role. If you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, be the first to point it out.
Be judicious. Make sure your efforts to be transparent don't violate CCSA's privacy, confidentiality, and legal guidelines for external speech. Ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to CCSA. All statements must be true and not misleading and all claims must be substantiated and approved. Please never comment on anything related to legal matters, litigation, or any parties we are in litigation with without the appropriate approval. If you want to write about the opposition, make sure you know what you are talking about and that you have the appropriate permission. Also be smart about protecting yourself, your privacy, and CCSA Confidential information. What you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully.
501(c)(3) Limitations. CCSA is a 501(c)(3) organization; CCSA and individuals communicating on behalf of CCSA may not take positions on political candidates. Additionally, posts or comments from political organizations which are clearly campaign postings or advertisements, or which might be interpreted or understood as support or endorsement by CCSA of a candidate will be removed.
Write what you know. Make sure you write and post about your areas of expertise, especially as related to CCSA and our work. If you are writing about a topic that CCSA is involved with but you are not the CCSA expert on the topic, you should make this clear to your readers. And write in the first person. If you publish to a website outside CCSA, please use a disclaimer something like this: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent CCSA's position or opinions." Also, please respect brand, trademark, copyright, fair use, confidentiality, and financial disclosure laws. If you have any questions about these, please contact our CCSA legal team. Remember, you may be personally responsible for your content.
Perception is reality. In online social networks, the lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred. Just by identifying yourself as an CCSA employee, you are creating perceptions about your expertise and about CCSA by our members, funders, and the general public-and perceptions about you by your colleagues and managers. Do us all proud. Be sure that all content associated with you is consistent with your work and with CCSA's values and professional standards.
It's a conversation. Talk to your readers like you would talk to real people in professional situations. In other words, avoid overly pedantic or "composed" language. Don't be afraid to bring in your own personality and say what's on your mind. Consider content that's open-ended and invites response. Encourage comments. You can also broaden the conversation by citing others who are blogging about the same topic and allowing your content to be shared or syndicated.
Are you adding value? There are millions of words out there. The best way to get yours read is to write things that people will value. Social communication from CCSA should help our customers, partners, and co-workers. It should be thought-provoking and build a sense of community. If it helps people improve knowledge or skills, do their jobs, solve problems, or better understand the charter school movement--then it's adding value. Your Responsibility. What you write is ultimately your responsibility. Participation in social computing on behalf of CCSA is not a right but an opportunity, so please treat it seriously and with respect. Failure to abide by these guidelines and the CCSA Employee Handbook could put your participation at risk. Contact Meagan Fox or Peri Lynn Turnbull for more information. Please also follow the terms and conditions for any third-party sites.
Create some excitement. As part of the charter school movement, CCSA is making important contributions to students in California, to the future of education, and to public dialogue on a broad range of issues. Our activities are increasingly focused on high-value innovation. Let's share with the world the exciting things we're learning and doing--and open up the channels to learn from others.
Be a Leader. There can be a fine line between healthy debate and incendiary reaction. Do not denigrate those who disagree with us or CCSA. Nor do you need to respond to every criticism or barb. Try to frame what you write to invite differing points of view without inflaming others. Some topics--like politics or religion--slide more easily into sensitive territory. So be careful and considerate. Once the words are out there, you can't really get them back. And once an inflammatory discussion gets going, it's hard to stop.
Did you make a mistake? 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.
If it gives you pause, pause. If you're about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, don't shrug it off and hit 'send.' Take a minute to review these guidelines and try to figure out what's bothering you, then fix it. If you're still unsure, contact Peri Lynn Turnbull or Legal. Ultimately, what you publish is yours--as is the responsibility. So be sure.
When You Engage
Emerging platforms for online collaboration are fundamentally changing the way we work, offering new ways to engage with members, colleagues, and the world at large. It's a new model for interaction and we believe social computing can help you to build stronger, more successful relationships. And it's a way for you to take part in broad conversations related to the work we are doing at CCSA and the things we care about.
If you participate in social media, please follow these guiding principles:
- Stick to your area of expertise and provide unique, individual perspectives on what's going on at CCSA and in the world.
- Post meaningful, respectful comments--in other words, no spam and no remarks that are off-topic or offensive.
- Always pause and think before posting. That said, reply to comments in a timely manner, when a response is appropriate.
- Respect proprietary information and content, and confidentiality.
- When disagreeing with others' opinions, keep it appropriate and polite.
*CCSA appreciates Intel Corporation's permission to modify and use these guidelines. *
Last updated April 12, 2010