Social Media Toolkit
Social networking is a great way to keep in touch, share your views and become part of the global debate.
Prospective students, current students, staff, alumni and the wider academic community can all get involved in social networks, whether it is adding your expert opinion to a current issue or starting a group page for your club or society.
Research has shown that individuals feel more connected and empowered to communicate directly with large organisations by becoming part of an online community.
Social media channels are informal, instant and available to anyone, so it is important that the University promotes a responsible attitude to participation to staff and students alike.
This guidance applies to any facility for online publication and commentary, including blogs, wikis, and social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube.
Any media that allows individuals to create and publish their own online content is in scope. This guidance is in addition to and complements any existing or future policies regarding the use of technology, computers, e-mail and the internet. For example HR policies (staff), Academic Regulations (students) and use of IT policies (all).
Hints and tips
Best practices for a successful social media presence
The University tone of voice should be approachable, professional and authoritative. The tone should be conversational and warm: keep it friendly and accessible and write in the first person wherever possible. Avoid trying too hard to be "cool". There is nothing that turns off an audience more on the web than an older generation (even slightly) attempting this. All audiences expect reputable organisations to reflect authority in the language used.
Social media presences require diligent care and housekeeping. If you do not have the time or resources to check in on these sites at least a few minutes each day and to post fresh content several times a week, reconsider setting up a social media presence at this time. Your site is only as interesting as your last post – if that post is several months old, visitors will consider it dead.
As a consumer as well as a producer of social media, offer comments on interesting posts and share the good work of others using your channels. Social media is not (only) about sharing your news and success, it’s about sharing information that is of interest to your readers and viewers. Avoid too much self promotion or "marketese" as this will serve to alienate your audience.
When commenting as part of your job, be sure to indicate who you are and your affiliation with Robert Gordon University. If you see a post that you think requires or would benefit from an official Robert Gordon University response, please contact the Communications Office.
Be an expert
The best way to be interesting, stay out of trouble, and have fun is to write about what you know. There is a good chance of being embarrassed by a leading academic expert, or of being boring if you write about topics you are not knowledgeable about.
If you post anything in your role as a Robert Gordon University employee, it will reflect on the institution. Be professional and respectful at all times in your social media channel. Do not engage in arguments or overly-heated debates.
If you are blogging / tweeting / Facebooking in your capacity as a staff member for Robert Gordon University, then make this very clear. One of the great benefits of social media is that the individuals maintaining social media sites personalise large and complex institutions such as Robert Gordon University.
Use your own “voice.” Do not ghost write posts for managers or senior staff. Though the account will be anonymous (i.e. no named staff will be running it) it is helpful to define a hypothetical “voice” so that contributions from multiple sources are presented in a consistent tone (including consistent use of first and second person).
Being a consumer of social media is essential to your ability to be a successful producer of social media content. “Listen” to online conversations on your preferred tools – be they blogs, Twitter, Facebook or anything else – to maintain a clear and current understanding of what is relevant and of interest to the community.
Be prepared to accept and respond to comments. A social media site without comments isn’t very social. To protect your site, you may wish to moderate all comments before posting. Understand that not all comments will be positive, and respond to negative comments professionally and by providing any additional information that may help resolve the issue. Post a disclaimer on your site stating you reserve the right to remove inappropriate comments. Remove those comments containing vulgar language, those that attack any one group or individual and those that are obviously spam.
One of the great benefits of social media is the ability to share information almost instantly with a global audience. This timeliness is also one of the expectations of that audience. Be prepared to move quickly in response to new developments, announcements, or emergencies with relevant information on your site. A short amount of accurate information delivered at the right time can sometimes be more valuable than a full report delivered well after the issue has passed.
Remember, quality matters and everything you do online can and will live forever
Use a spell-checker. If you're setting up a blog and are not design orientated, ask someone who is whether your blog looks appealing, and take their advice on how to improve it.
Think before you post, remembering that anything you share within social media, even within a closed network, is not private. It can and will be shared, stored and spread globally. Don’t post anything online you wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing on the front page of the newspaper, or on the BBC Web site.
Robert Gordon University employees are free to publish or comment via social media, following this guidance.
There is a reputational risk to Robert Gordon University if contributions to social media from employees or students are perceived as detrimental to the University. Publication and commentary on social media therefore carries similar obligations to any other kind of publication or commentary. You must not post content or take any action in social media that infringes or violates someone else's rights or is defamatory, insulting or offensive to another individual in any way. All uses of social media must follow the same ethical standards that Robert Gordon University employees must otherwise follow, which are contained in contracts of employment.
Setting up social media
Robert Gordon University's Directorate of Marketing, Communications and Student Recruitment is responsible for setting up and maintaining the main University-wide social media sites e.g. Facebook. More guidance on this is contained in Guidance on managing social media for the University.
Assistance in setting up social media accounts and their settings can be obtained from the Directorate. If you wish to use the University's name within the account identity, approval should be gained first from the Directorate (Katherine Pickles). Advice on best practice is contained in the Hints and tips section.
Protect Proprietary or Confidential Information
Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Robert Gordon University, students, employees, or alumni. Confidential information includes unpublished details about confidential or planned projects, courses or new products in development, financial information, research, and trade secrets. Employees must follow the applicable UK legislation as well as all applicable University privacy and confidentiality policies. Each social media provider will also require adherence to their own terms and conditions of use which may go further to protect the individual. Employees who share confidential information do so at the risk of disciplinary action or termination of employment.
If you are unsure about any aspect of Information Governance, please contact the University Records Manager, Keith Fraser.
Respect copyright laws
It is critical that you show proper respect for the laws governing copyright and fair use or fair dealing of copyrighted material owned by others, including Robert Gordon University's own copyrights and brands. You should never quote more than short excerpts of someone else's work, and always attribute such work to the original author/source. It is good general practice to link to others' work rather than reproduce it.
Terms of service
Obey the Terms of Service of any social media platform employed.
Robert Gordon University students are free to publish or comment via social media, following this guidance.
There is a reputational risk to Robert Gordon University if contributions to social media from students are perceived as detrimental to the University and staff. Publication and commentary on social media therefore carries similar obligations to any other kind of publication or commentary. You must not post content or take any action in social media that infringes or violates someone else's rights or is defamatory, insulting or offensive to another individual in any way. All uses of social media must follow the same ethical standards that Robert Gordon University students must otherwise follow which are contained in Academic Regulations A3 - Section 2: Student Misconduct Procedure.
Protect Proprietary or Confidential Information
Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Robert Gordon University, students, employees, or alumni. Confidential information includes unpublished details about confidential or planned projects, courses or new products in development, financial information, research, and trade secrets. Students must follow the applicable UK legislation as well as all applicable University privacy and confidentiality policies. Each social media provider will also require adherence to their own terms and conditions of use which may go further to protect the individual. Students who share confidential information do so at the risk of disciplinary action or termination.
Respect copyright laws
It is critical that you show proper respect for the laws governing copyright and fair use or fair dealing of copyrighted material owned by others, including Robert Gordon University’s own copyrights and brands. You should never quote more than short excerpts of someone else's work, and always attribute such work to the original author/source. It is good general practice to link to others' work rather than reproduce it.
Terms of service
Obey the Terms of Service of any social media platform employed.
Guidance on managing social media for the University
If you post on behalf of an official university unit, the following guidance applies in addition to the previous guidance.
Notify the University
Departments or University units that have a social media page or would like to start one should contact the marketing or central web team in the Marketing Communications and Student Recruitment Directorate to ensure all institutional social media sites coordinate with other Robert Gordon University pages. For every official social media presence a social media plan should be devised. Approval must be gained to use the University branding.
All institutional pages must have a full-time appointed employee who is identified as being responsible for content. Ideally, this should be the unit head of the department although a delegated colleague may be the person actually contributing to it.
Individual school/department/special interest pages associated with Robert Gordon University must have a plan in place for managing the account in the event that the main account holder is absent.
Acknowledge who you are
If you are representing Robert Gordon University when posting on a social media platform, acknowledge this.
Have a plan
Departments should consider their messages, audiences, and goals, as well as a strategy for keeping information on social media sites up-to-date. A checklist of considerations is available in Hints and tips.
A checklist for your plan is available to download:
Link back to the University
Whenever possible, link back to the Robert Gordon University web site. Ideally, posts should be very brief, redirecting a visitor to content that resides within the RGU web environment. When linking to a news article about the University, check first to see whether you can link to a release on the Robert Gordon University news item instead of to a publication or other media outlet. Check with the central web team if a ‘friendly’ URL is desired for your page.
Protect the institutional voice
Posts on social media sites should protect the University’s institutional voice by remaining professional in tone and in good taste. No individual Robert Gordon University unit should construe its social media site as representing the University as a whole. Consider this when naming pages or accounts, selecting a profile picture or icon, and selecting content to post—names, profile images, and posts should all be clearly linked to the particular department or unit rather than to the institution as a whole.
Ambassadors of the University
Student ambassadors are employees of the University and as such, the guidance which applies to staff will also apply to them. Alumni Ambassadors are not employees, however their agreement to assist the University also covers contributions to social media.
Using the University's branding
You must not set up a Facebook, Twitter or other Social Media presence using the branding of the University without gaining prior permission.
There are some instances where less formality is required and where you may wish to create an account directly aimed at students from a certain year, group or society.
The use of the University's brand is carefully monitored and should not be used in any locations or for any purpose that might damage RGU's reputation.
Prior permission to use the brand and logo must be obtained from the University's Director of Marketing, Communications and Student Recruitment.
Please email email@example.com explaining your request.
Be very careful about setting up a Facebook or Twitter presence that might be seen as insensitive to particular groups of students. Online bullying is as offensive as any other form of inappropriate behaviour and posting defamatory or obscene comments about fellow students or staff will come within the scope of the University's Academic Regulations for students or Code of Conduct for staff.
Breaching these regulations will result in the disciplinary action outlined.
- Please refer to Academic Regulations A3 - Section 2: Student Misconduct Procedure 6.2.1 Non-Academic Misconduct section (iv), (i).
Social media privacy issues
How do you protect your online privacy?
When you register for a social networking account, you'll be asked for certain personal details and should be advised how this information will be used - in other words, what will be public and what will be private on your profile.
If you have a public profile, it can be seen by anyone searching the social networking site and might also be available to people searching for profiles using a search engine, such as Google. On the other hand, a private profile allows only invited friends and members of chosen networks to view your content.
Social networks do change their privacy settings regularly, especially Facebook. They usually advise you but it is all to easy too click 'ignore' or to delete the emails.
The best advice is:
- READ their updates and TAKE ACTION.
The default settings in Facebook tend to be 'public' so if you don't take action there is the chance that items you post on friends profiles/timelines will be open for any of their friends to view or even for everyone to view, depending on their corresponding settings.
Be in control of your own data or contributions at all times.
How to succeed with social media
There is plenty of advice out there on how to engage with social media effectively and appropriately. Here are a selection of sites which can help you beyond getting started.
If you have any good links to suggest, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A video from ACAS on using social media in the workplace.
The university will be expanding its LinkedIn presence and this information from LinkedIn provides useful advice to institutions and students on how to develop their LinkedIn presence.
Mashable is the largest independent online news site dedicated to covering digital culture, social media and technology.
An interesting infographic from Mashable on the use of Social Media in recruitment, to make you aware of how your online presence might be used:
A listing of social media policies - mainly from the US.
A popular technology blog, known for offering insightful analysis about each day's Internet industry news, including social media news.
Social Media Examiner, the world’s largest online social media magazine, is designed to help businesses discover how to best use social media tools like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with customers, generate more brand awareness and increase sales.
The Shorty Awards are a worldwide effort to engage hundreds of thousands of Twitter users to identify the best people and organisations on social media, culminating in a blockbuster ceremony in New York City.
The blog of Rey Junco, an American college professor and researcher who studies how social media use affects college students.
Aimed at helping you protect your personal information online. Useful for any age - although pitched at 'young people'.
An article from the Guardian Higher Education Network: Ernesto Priego explores the ethics of live-tweeting academic events and provides 10 points to bear in mind when navigating this emerging social media minefield.
Too embarrassed to admit that you haven't a clue about Twitter, what it is or how to use it? Check out this very short video which explains it in simple terms.