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

Be friendly

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. 

Be active

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.

Be interesting

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.

Be respectful

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.

Be transparent

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).

Be connected

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 vigilant

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.

Be timely

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.

Staff guidance

RGU staff are encouraged to use social media and advised to follow this guidance.

There is a reputational risk to the university if content posted online by students is perceived as detrimental.

  • Publication and commentary on social media should therefore be published responsibly in line with off-line behaviour.
  • 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. 
  • All uses of social media must follow the same ethical standards that RGU employees must follow, which are contained in contracts of employment.
  • RGU's Directorate of Marketing, Communications and Student Recruitment is responsible for setting up and maintaining main university-wide social media sites e.g. Facebook. More guidance on this is contained in Guidance on managing social media for the university.
  • If you would like to set up a social media account for your department/school advice 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. 
  • Complete our short form to alert us to your new account and get advice on the best options.

Setting up social media

Protect Proprietary or Confidential Information

  • You must not post confidential or proprietary information about RGU, its 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 RGU'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.

Student guidance

RGU students are encouraged to use social media and advised to follow this guidance.

There is a reputational risk to the university if content posted online by students is perceived as detrimental.

  • Publication and commentary on social media therefore be published responsibly in line with off-line behaviour.
  • 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. 
  • All uses of social media must follow the same ethical standards that RGU students must follow. 
  • These are contained in Academic Regulations:

A3 - Section 2: Student Misconduct Procedure

Protect confidential information

  • You must not post confidential or proprietary information about RGU, its students, employees, or alumni.
  • Confidential information includes unpublished details about planned projects, courses or new products in development, financial information and research.
  • Students must follow 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 of copyrighted material owned by others, including RGU’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 or source. It is good practice to link to others' work rather than reproduce it.
  • The library provides more information on copyright issues.

Policy on copyright

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 account please read the following guidance.

Centrally managed accounts

Check the list of centrally managed accounts.

Using one of the pre-existing channels may be preferable to setting up a new page or group. The centrally managed accounts have already grown a sizable audience and are managed by experienced and trained staff.  

Notify the university

  • If you still feel that you wish to manage your own university profile, departments or university units that would like to set one up should complete our short form to advise us of your intentions.
  • Ensure that any pre-existing accounts are also notified to the Directorate of Marketing, Communication and Student Recruitment.
  • This will ensure all institutional social media sites co-ordinate with other RGU pages.
  • A plan should be devised for every RGU social media account and approval must be gained to use the university’s branding. 

Responsibility

  • All social media accounts must have a full-time appointed employee who is identified as being responsible for content and engagement.
  • Each team responsible for an account must also have a plan in place for managing the account in the event that the main account holder is absent.
  • The Directorate of Marketing, Communications and Student Recruitment is required to have an overview of all social media accounts. Additionally, it is preferable for a member of the Directorate to be added to the account managers to ensure continuity.

Plan ahead

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.

Download Social media strategy - checklist for staff

Link back to the university

  • Ideally, posts should be brief and point followers to content hosted on RGU’s website.
  • When linking to a news article about the university, check first to see whether you can link to a release on the RGU site before considering external sources.

Protect RGU's reputation and voice

  • Posts on social media sites should protect the university’s institutional voice by remaining professional in tone and in good taste.
  • No individual RGU social media account should construe its page as representing the university as a whole.
  • Consider this when naming 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.

RGU Ambassadors

Student ambassadors are RGU employees and as such, this 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.

More information on the use of the brand (internal only)

Please use our short form to request the use of the brand

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 k.g.pickles@rgu.ac.uk.

 


Social Media in the Workplace

A video from ACAS on using social media in the workplace.

LinkedIn for Universities

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 Social Media

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: 

Online Database of Social Media Governance

A listing of social media policies - mainly from the US.

Read Write Web

A popular technology blog, known for offering insightful analysis about each day's Internet industry news, including social media news.

Social Media Examiner

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

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.

Social Media in Higher Education

The blog of Rey Junco, an American college professor and researcher who studies how social media use affects college students.

Information Commissioner's Office - youth advice

Aimed at helping you protect your personal information online. Useful for any age - although pitched at 'young people'.

Live Tweeting from Conferences

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.

What is Twitter?

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.


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