Social media guidelines for staff
Social media refers to digital channels used to share views, video, experiences, comments and so forth. Some of these sites are also called 'social networks'. The most common social media platforms are, but not exclusively, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Flickr.
The following guidelines aim to encourage good practice in the responsible use of social media when communicating on one of the University’s official social media channels or commenting on University matters through the use of other channels. While acknowledging the right of staff to freedom of expression, the University has an obligation to protect the reputation of both individual members of staff and the institution as a whole.
These guidelines apply to activities undertaken by staff on sites run by third party providers. It does not apply to webpages hosted by the University of Kent.
These apply to all staff using University official social media channels. The University reserves the right to take appropriate action if staff members publish content that does not adhere to the content of this document. There is also a note concerning the use of personal/unofficial channels. Members of staff are reminded that they are expected to operate within both the law and the University policy framework in their interactions with social media just as much as in all other aspects of their working life. The below policies and guidelines are of particular importance:
- Human Resources: policies, procedures and associated documents
- IT regulations
- Data Protection policies
What to do, and what to avoid
Whilst not providing an exhaustive list of things you should and should not do, members of staff are encouraged to:
- Use social media where it offers real value to their students/customers, colleagues or clients;
- Only offer advice, support or comment on topics that are within their area of expertise or responsibility as a University employee;
- Be aware of the varied nature of their potential readership –which may include potential, current or past students, colleagues or research/business partners;
- Be transparent - make sure that their official channel is obviously official, and that readers/correspondents are in no doubt that the author of the content is an employee of the University;
- Keep work and personal/official social media accounts and profiles separate;
- Exercise good judgement when entering any debates or offering opinions - be restrained when interacting with, and responding to, potentially contentious posts on social media sites;
- Take effective precautions when utilising social networking sites to ensure their own personal safety and to protect against identity theft;
- Manage login and account information responsibly. Whilst there will need to be different models for different sites and teams, share team account information where appropriate and keep individual account information private;
- Inform the Alumni Relations team if they wish to establish a social media channel for alumni of their school or centre;
- Inform the Press Office if they receive a press query regarding the content of their social media channel which relates to the University.
Staff should not...
Staff should avoid publishing material:
- That is liable to cause offence, including pornographic material or abusive language;
- That could be described as harassment or bullying as defined by the University’s Dignity at Work and Study Policy;
- That could be considered defamatory;
- That breaches copyright;
- That discriminates on the grounds of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, age, marital status, political or religious belief or contravenes the University’s Equality and Diversity Policy;
- That reveals information which is confidential to the University or which is not in the public domain - consult your manager if you are unsure;
- That reveals personal information about a University member of staff, student, client or customer (data, contact details or photographs) without their permission;
- That damages the reputation of the University - consult your manager if you are unsure whether content is appropriate.
Personal and unofficial channels
The University has no reason to be interested in staff unofficial/personal social media activity that does not mention the University of Kent, its activities or the member of staff’s relationship to it.
However, comments made by staff concerning University activities or business using their unofficial/personal social media channels may be considered subject to the guidelines above for official channels particularly if:
- The member of staff is clearly identified as being a member of University of Kent staff in the conversation, channel title or their profile information;
- Any claims are made to be speaking in a professional capacity or on behalf of the University;
In general, on unofficial/personal channels:
- Please do not use the University’s name, logos or branding elements in the name, avatar/picture, or profile information of your channel;
- If you wish to make it known that you are a Kent employee, where appropriate use a disclaimer such as ‘the views contained here are my personal views and do not represent the views of the University of Kent’.
Visit our media channels section to see which official University of Kent accounts are already in use.
An official channel is deemed to be an account whose primary use is to support:
- the work of a University initiative, organisational unit/group or
- an individual’s profile and activities as a University of Kent employee.