Spelman College has nearly 13,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter. The College has garnered upward of 275,000 views on YouTube, Flickr and this digital publication. Those numbers are just for the social media pages for the main campus. Take into account the more than two dozen other social media profiles for the College’s departments and organizations, and the hundreds of thousands of interactions in Spelman’s digital space can be astounding.

A lot of that interaction involves students, many of whom engage in social media in nearly every aspect of their lives.

“It helps me instantly connect to my peers, the news, events around campus, and opportunities for both my career and artistic interests,” said Kimberlee Malone, C’2013, who uses Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, where she’s found graduate school opportunities.

“Entire movements have become widespread with the use of social media. Twitter was instrumental in the international participation of young people in the Egyptian revolution and in the execution of Troy Davis. Without social media, I am confident that the rapid globalization we have experienced in the past few years would not have taken place so quickly.”

The benefits of connecting online are plentiful, but it’s the “social” aspect of social media where some find themselves in trouble.

“I’ve mainly seen classmates embarrass themselves on social media sites by having inappropriate pictures, getting caught up in drama that was only caused through social media, and being too open with their personal life,” said DaNai Black, C’2013.

There are cases that attracted national attention because full-time employment offers and internships have been rescinded, and people have lost employment because of information on social media, according to Kimberly Ferguson, dean of students in the Division of Student Affairs. The division’s goal is to educate students about the pitfalls of having inappropriate information on social medial.

To raise awareness in the student community, one of the College’s attorneys, Jessica Wong was brought in at the beginning of this year to address the 170 student leaders in a training session specifically on social media.

“We try to make sure we do as much education as possible. Plus, Dr. Tatum is online. I am online. Faculty members and potential employers are on these sites,” said Ferguson, admitting that sometimes students are surprised when she responds to them on social media sites.

“This is about more than having a good time. This is about you jeopardizing scholarships, internships and job opportunities. How you portray yourself and who you associate with says something about your character and people are making decisions about you based on your social media behavior.”

When Student Affairs was developing their Standards of Excellence Honor Code in 2010, it was a student – Black – who suggested including social networking in the code that every student is required to sign. Also, students are provided with a guide to decorum and other materials that speak to the importance of being prudent when using social media. These directives support the College’s official social media policy that governs not just the students, but also the faculty and staff. To protect the brand, the policy details rules and regulations regarding everything from copyrights to transparency and proprietary information.

View Spelman’s social media policy.

Share your career moves and win! Be sure to join Inside Spelman’s Tweet Chat on Wednesday, October. 19, from noon to 1 p.m. to share how you landed your dream job, internship or career opportunity. The best tweet wins!

— Joyce E. Davis is the editor of Inside Spelman and associate director of Publications in the Office of Communications.