Guidance and best practice

Social media enables thousands of people to discuss, debate, criticise, praise and embrace the University of Leicester on the internet.

The opportunities that social media communications offer are very exciting – it’s a way for us to take part in a global conversation about the great work that we do, the risks however are much greater than traditional communications mechanisms.

The following guidance is intended to help us mitigate against those risks but also make the most of the opportunities that social media present. It is relevant for members of the University posting in the capacity of a University member (i.e. when posting any social media content which reference their employment at the University) and those posting officially on behalf of the University.

Best Practice

Some Rules

  • Be aware of data protection: do not post confidential information about University students, employees, alumni or partners.
  • Be mindful of copyright and intellectual property rights of others and the University.
  • Use of the University logo effectively endorses a page, blog, comment or tweet. The logo should only be used where the University has an official presence on the internet, for example:

Requests to use the logo should be made to marketing@le.ac.uk.

Guidance

Think twice before posting: The internet is permanent and word spreads fast. If you wouldn’t publish it on the website or say it to the media then don’t post it. Ask for advice.

Make it accurate: Get the facts straight and review content before posting – check for grammatical and spelling errors.

Be transparent: State that you work at the University if posting in an official capacity, or in relation to your work at Leicester. Your honesty will be noted in the social media environment.

Protect the University’s voice: Posts on social media sites should be professional and respectful in tone. If you are posting on behalf of the University, or even in the capacity of a member of the University, what you say will reflect on the University’s reputation.

If posting on an official University social media presence you are representing the University and as a representative have a responsibility that your communications are appropriate (for the audience and in keeping with the University’s values), accurate, respectful of others and the work that the University does.

Know the rules: Become familiar with the terms of service and policies of sites and networks in which you participate.

Made a mistake? If so admit it, correct it, modify it, be honest about it and your correction.

Let us know: If you’re thinking about undertaking social media communications or already have. Knowing what’s out there will enable us to leverage it to our full advantage.

If you wish to establish an official University presence in social media you must speak with someone in the Division of Marketing and Communications first.

Be a scout and let us know about anything you think is particularly significant – either positive or negative.

Optimising social media communications

It’s all about the audience and having a conversation. Social media communication is about sharing, discussing and responding. Audiences on social media will vary according to the type of communication or the site. Journalists use social media as a means to identify news stories, so bear this in mind as well.

Have a plan: Consider your message, audience, goal and have a plan for maintaining your social media communications. Where does your social media communications fit within the broader communications plan?

Content is king: What would motivate your audience to respond positively and share your content with others? Monitor and evaluate which content, or posts, receive the most interactions – enabling you to identify great content for future use. If you create multimedia to post have it reviewed by Multimedia Services first.

Tone of voice: Bearing in mind the guidance above about protecting the University’s voice, social media communications are on the whole more informal than traditional forms of communication. Write in the first and second person, in the active voice, encourage conversation, be approachable in tone. It might be appropriate to be clever (in a witty sense), but not flippant or jokey. 

Link back to the University website if posting in an official University capacity. Ideally posts should be brief and full information should be kept to the University’s website.

Responding to negativity: If in any doubt please seek advice about how to respond, particularly if there is a potential significant impact on University reputation. Please contact either marketing@le.ac.uk or pressoffice@le.ac.uk

Remember that the social media world is all about debate and discussion, we enter into it with that in mind, so think carefully about responding and even whether to respond at all. Be constructive and polite, don’t be defensive.

Personal use vs writing in the capacity of a member of the University

The advice above is aimed at those writing either on behalf of the University in an official capacity (made explicit above) and those writing in the capacity of a member of the University, where their status as such is made clear to the online community. 

If you identify yourself as a University member of staff online, it should be clear that the views expressed are not necessarily those of the institution.

These guidelines are not intended for members of staff using social media for their own personal use, however users may wish to make themselves aware of the various social media privacy policies to protect personal privacy:

Helen Pennack, Head of Marketing Communications, 28 June 2010

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