Best Practices for Social Media in Home Care

OPHC1This information was part of a Continuing Education Unit at a regular meeting of the OPHC.  Feel free to use it to enhance your agency.


Where You Can Go- Key Social Media Outlets

Social Network

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • MySpace


  • Instagram
  • Tumblr
  • Flikr
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube

Location Based

  • Google Places
  • Yelp
  • Foursquare
  • Yahoo Places
  • Cityof?.com



How You Should Prepare- Build a Good Foundation

  • Set social media policies and guidelines- Know who has permission to post for your company in social media outlets, when and what they can or cannot post. Be careful not to violate HIPAA guidelines when posting in Social Media Outlets.


  • Have a clear mission- Be Focused- Nobody has time to waste. Take a look at your strategy and review the reasons your business is implementing a social media marketing plan. What do you want out of social activities? Are you trying to drive people to your website, your blog, or your Facebook page? Create the number of social media channels that meaningfully extend the focus of your business. Only create channels that enhance the brand message without diluting it. And make sure you have the capacity to keep all the channels relevant.


  • Set your goals. Are you trying to communicate a campaign; promote your business, and event or your mission in general; connect with clients or staff; create a community for fans; or increase overall awareness and recognition of your business? Your goals should be SMART:Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. Common social media goals include: increased traffic to website, reputation management, brand awareness, search engine rankings, and thought leadership.


  • Form a strategy. Identify purpose, who you want to reach (audience), types of content you intend to share and overarching goals. From there start with one social media outlet, such as creating a fan page on Facebook, and develop a presence.


  • Have good tools- This means more than just having a good computer. It also might include a flip camera for creating information videos, automated software for posting to Twitter, or graphics programs for helping produce quality images for use in Social media.


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How You Should Act- Be a Good Internet Citizen

  • Be authentic. Social media is all about people connecting with people. Remember to humanize your social media interactions. On social networks it is okay to use an exclamation point and phrases such as “check it out” rather than “read more.”


  • Be accurate. Make sure you have all of the facts before you post. Cite and link to sources whenever possible to help build a community. It also doesn’t hurt to spell-check your content before posting. If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly. This will earn you respect in the online community.


  • Be respectful. Respect for the dignity of others and to the civil and thoughtful discussion of opposing ideas is critical. Feel free to respectfully disagree with a position but please do not propagate online confrontation as it reflects poorly on both the individual and CSU.


  • Be positive. A good rule of thumb: if you would not say it in person, don’t say it online. Be transparent and admit when you’re wrong online.


  • Encourage open conversation. Listen to people and respond to as many comments as possible with constructive feedback. Allow negative comments, delete the spam, and seek to respond rather than censor.


  • Allow comments. Even the negative ones. A good philosophy for comments is to encourage thoughtful discussion, debate and differing viewpoints, with the understanding that all comments made must be civil, respectful, and appropriate for your audience. If comments are lewd, libelous, incite violence or are otherwise hurtful or hateful speech directed at either individuals or groups, CSU employees who serve as account administrators reserve the right to delete such comments.


General Rules of Thumb- Success In A Nutshell

  • Treat your network kindly. Don’t Abuse your networks in Social Media.  Don’t continue to send emails out every hour on the hour. It’s annoying and clutters up one’s inbox. If you don’t hear back from an individual right away, give them some time. If you post something, post something of significance that your network can actually use, like a great social media link you just found or some sort of tip, advice or quote you find significant.
  • Use extreme caution & wisdom in what you post or promote. Assume everything you write online will become public.
  • Perception is reality. Beware of perceptions.  Your social media presence IS reality.
  • Check it out. Independently authenticate anything found on a social networking site. Also, conduct research. Before starting a social media campaign, research other organizations on social media networks for ideas on what works and what doesn’t.
  • Jump in. Be an active user. Listen to conversations, engage with comments, answer questions, and keep your account fresh with regular posts. To engage people, ask questions and respond to comments. Post pictures. People enjoy seeing photographs and are likely to share them, making your social media efforts that much more visible. Share content that your users will enjoy, such as industry news or relevant tips, and not just information about your products or services. Also, remember the social in social media. Comment on other pages and share other people’s content. Engaging with other people makes them more likely to comment on your pages.
  • Copyrights- Be careful about copyrighted material. See attachment regarding your responsibility.
  • When marketing-use a first name– If you want someone to actually respond back to you, you need to make your connection more personable. Using their first name is a great way to start!
  • Play by the rules– Be respectful of group and community rules. Follow the terms of use of the social platform you are using.
  •  Add a profile picture– Everyone likes to “see” who they are talking to. It’s easy to do and having a picture on file does make you look more reputable and professional.


Avoiding Common Social Media Mistakes

  • Choose well on the sites and number of sites.Only use as many social media sites as you have time to develop. Having accounts for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube will only help your business if you have the time to develop meaningful, site-specific content for each.   Although the capability exists to link sites, say Facebook to Twitter, and have one post appear on both sites, using this strategy has a few drawbacks.
  • Be wise in the amount of time you spend on social media. You could spend all day, every day on social media for your business.  It can become addictive, and not have the ROI that you would hope for.
  • Focus on more than just the number of followers you have.Instead, focus on the level of engagement. Having 50 engaged Facebook fans who comment and like your status updates is better than having 100 fans who never interact with your page. Engaged users are more likely to support your company or buy your products.
  • Make having a social media strategy a priority.Creating a written social media strategy is as important as having a business plan. A sound strategy will increase the likelihood that your efforts will meet success.  Your social media strategy should lay out which sites you’ll use and establish goals for what types of content will appear on each. For example, the plan might outline what percentage of posts will demonstrate your services, versus your industry expertise, company culture and fun side. Your plan might also detail how you’ll handle negative comments and specify the voice or tone you use when posting.
  • Track statistics, track results.Take time out every week or month to analyze the statistics from your various social media sites. What time of day are your customers most active? What types of posts show the highest levels of engagement? Zeroing in on these key statistics and using them to shape your overall social media strategy will make your efforts will make your efforts that much more successful.  Determine what success means for your purpose and goals. Increased traffic to your website? Better communication with prospective students? Number of fans, followers, comments?


Guidelines for posting potentially copyrighted material on your social media accounts

 First, determine who owns the material you want to post. Typical examples of copyright “owners” include:

  • Author of a written work
  • Photographer who took the picture
  • Composer of a song or melody
  • Videographer of a video
  • Journal/publisher of a published work
  • Creator of artwork
  • Programmer of software
  • Employer of any of these people if the work was done in connection with their employment


How do you get permission to post copyrighted material?

  • Contact the owner
  • Contact the Copyright Clearance Center at
  • Contact CSU General Counsel’s office for assistance with CSU-recognized social media accounts at (970) 491-6270


Could posting of the material be considered a “fair use” under the Copyright Act?

Use is likely fair if:

  • Character of the use is nonprofit, educational, or personal
  • Nature of the material used is factual published material
  • Only a small amount of the material will be posted
  • Impact on the market for the material is very small

Use is likely not fair if:

  • Character of the use is commercial (promoting a product or service, charging to access the copyrighted material, advertisements)
  • Nature of the material used is imaginative and/or unpublished
  • The majority of the material will be posted (for example, an entire book or chapter instead of a quoted sentence)
  • Use detrimentally impacts the market for the original
  • Use was “fair” at one time, but has been repeatedly reused or more widely distributed, or the copyright owner has requested that the use be limited or discontinued. For example, use of a portion of a journal article or a photo may have been Fair Use one time, but used annually for the same event or purpose, loses its Fair Use character.


What are the penalties for infringing someone’s copyright?

  • Typically, a copyright holder’s first response to an act of infringement is to send you a “cease and desist” letter demanding that you stop infringement. The copyright holder can go to court to get an injunction or a court order requiring you to remove the infringing material from your account, Web page, or profile. Additionally, a copyright holder can file a claim for actual damages suffered by the copyright holder as a result of your infringement.
  • If the copyright has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, the copyright holder can file a claim for “statutory damages” without proving that the copyright holder was actually harmed by the infringement. An award of statutory damages can be as little as $750 or as much as $30,000. If the copyright holder can prove that you knew the work was protected under the law, an award of damages can be as much as $150,000.


What are the implications of posting copyrighted material on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube?

  • When you post copyrighted materials on these social media websites, such as Facebook, they automatically obtain a license to use those materials, commonly known as an Intellectual Property, or “IP” license. They can use this IP license to share the materials all over the world without your further permission and without paying you any royalties. Some websites also reserve the right to change, commercialize and publicly perform or display the materials. This IP license ends when you delete the materials or terminate your account unless the materials have been shared with others and they have not deleted it. This could mean that the social media website effectively owns a license to use the materials you posted, for whatever purpose it desires, forever.


Questions about copyright?

  • For copyright, fair use and faculty/staff ownership of works at CSU, contact CSU’s General Counsel at (970) 491-6270
  • For online or written license agreements or “click wrap” terms, contact CSU’s Contracting Services at (970) 491-6166
  • For tips on maximizing the benefit of your Facebook, Twitter, or other CSU-recognized social media account; problems with content or use of social media; change of account administrator; reporting misuse of an account; establishing a new account; use of CSU logos, graphics or trademarks, contact CSU’s Social Media Policy Staff.