Social media guidelines for staff
Loughborough University recognises the benefits and opportunities that social media can bring to individuals and the institution.
As an organisation we encourage employees to use social media responsibly to communicate, engage, build relationships, share news and innovate. However, there are potential risks associated with the use of social media which could impact the University’s reputation, cause harm or breach other relevant University policies.
These guidelines are intended to minimise the risks involved in using social media and provide guidance to Loughborough University staff on how to safely use social media to maximise the benefits whilst avoiding associated risks.
For the purpose of these guidelines, social media is defined as a type of interactive online media that allows parties to communicate instantly. This includes but is not limited to social forums/channels, blogs, video-and image sharing websites and similar.
Social media channels include but are not limited to:
While social networks can help break down structural barriers to equality they can also heighten inequality by excluding people in some marginalised groups who don’t have easy access. It’s important that you think about the audience you are trying to reach – sometimes social media won’t be the most appropriate medium.
These guidelines apply to all employees of Loughborough University who use social media professionally and personally. For the purpose of this document, three types of accounts will be considered - an official University account, an individual professional account and an individual personal account.
- Official account - an account that is created and used on behalf of the University, for example a departmental account.
- Individual professional account – an account created for an individual that more closely relates to their role within the University and their work. This account is typically used for networking, sharing university updates, and connecting with stakeholders or colleagues.
- Individual Personal Account - Personal accounts are created by an individual to share personal views and for personal communication only. Personal communications include all communications that are set up to represent own views such as a personal Twitter account or a personal blog.
These guidelines apply to all use of social media whether that be during, or outside of working hours. The guidance covers the use of social media from all devices including University-owned and personal equipment.
Purpose of these guidelines
- Advise and inform employees on how to use social media effectively, safely and appropriately
- Encourage employees to engage with social media and help amplify the University’s messages
- Reduce the potential for security breaches
- Help protect and maintain the reputation and brand identity of the University
- Respect academic freedom and its application to social media use
- Outline processes for escalation of issues or concerns
Other Loughborough University policies to be considered
Main policies related to this guidance
It is important that these guidelines should be read and adhered to in conjunction with the following University policies:
- IT Acceptable Use Policy
- Loughborough University Data Protection Policy
- Loughborough University brand guidelines
- Harassment and bullying policy
- Academic Freedom guidelines
- Conduct and capability policies
- Safeguarding policy
- Copyright policy
- Data protection policy
- Software policy
- Grievance Procedure
- Staff Disciplinary Policy and Procedure
All policies are available on the University’s policy gateway.
The right to erasure (the right to be forgotten)
In line with Loughborough University’s Data Protection Policy, an individual can request the University erases their personal data. This may include the removal of social media posts from accounts managed by the University containing personal data such as a name or job title. However, the University is unable to remove social media posts containing personal data from accounts not managed or owned by the University.
Sharing lecture content on social media
The University recognises that on occasion it may be beneficial for lectures to be uploaded onto social media, e.g. YouTube. If a colleague wishes to upload their material onto a social media website, they must discuss and agree the arrangements with their Associate Dean for Education and Student Experience in the first instance.
The University will normally agree to such requests provided that the social media site is recognised as appropriate for the content concerned, (usually the University’s YouTube channel), the material is uploaded onto University software as normal and that the content only represents a small proportion (<10%) of the module.
Official University accounts
These guidelines are designed for members of staff using social media on behalf of the University through official University accounts.
An official Loughborough University account will represent an area of the University and the administrators for that account are responsible for the content, monitoring and management of these accounts.
All official Loughborough University accounts will use ‘Lboro’ or its derivatives in the username and should have an avatar and associated identity created by the University Creative and Print Services to ensure it is within our Visual Identity Guidelines.
Creating an official University account
If you’re looking to create a new official Loughborough University social media account, you must first secure the permission of your line manager, who should also read these guidelines and consider the appropriateness of your request. You must then inform the Web and Digital Team to discuss goals and strategies. A member of the team will ask you to fill in a Social Media Worksheet to help support you with your goals.
The Web and Digital Team should be provided with an e-mail address, phone number and names of both the lead contact and a back-up contact who have access to the account.
It is important to understand that the lead contact is directly responsible for the digital security of the account. You should follow IT Services’ advice when creating security credentials.
Official University accounts should start with ‘@Lboro’ (Twitter, Instagram) or ‘Loughborough University’ (Facebook, LinkedIn) in the channel name unless it has been agreed that an alternative name would be more appropriate. Contact the Web and Digital Team for guidance on an appropriate avatar and cover image.
Official University account management
All official University social media accounts must adhere to these guidelines and the University’s Visual Identity guidelines with the account profile clearly stating who they are and how they are associated with the University.
It is important all social media accounts are kept up to date, posted from regularly and are monitored frequently. Questions from the audience should be responded to promptly within working hours with up-to-date information. If you are unsure how to answer a question on social media, please direct the individual to the relevant department or contact the Web and Digital team for guidance.
All content and engagements shared should be up to date and relevant. Please ensure links are working, content is consistent with the University brand, and posts are checked before publishing to avoid communication errors that may be harmful. All social posts on accounts that represent the University should also be appropriate for the audience and great care taken not damage the University’s reputation or bring it into disrepute.
Digital content must be respectful of others and official accounts must not criticise, argue, discriminate, or post hateful messages regarding colleagues, students, customers, partners or competitors. All posts must be in line with this guidance and other University policies outlined in this document.
When managing the account, it is important that all staff members with access to the social media accounts understand these guidelines and relevant laws. This includes, but is not limited to, ensuring that posts do not breach confidentiality, copyright or infringe intellectual property.
For more guidance on copyright, please see the University’s Copyright Policy.
If a mistake is made when posting to an official University account and content is shared that is not accurate or was not intended to be shared, please remove the post immediately and contact the Web and Digital team or IT services.
Social media accounts are at risk of a security breach which may lead to loss of access to the channel and potential for significant reputational damage. To reduce the chance of this happening, please ensure the following steps are in place:
- At least two members of staff have access to the account login details
- Ensure the password is strong and secure – seek advice from IT Services if you are unsure how to do this
- Use multi-factor authentication where available
- Regularly check devices that are logged in to each channel and remove any inactive devices
- Ensure all access is removed when a staff member leaves and passwords are changed
- Have a full log of all staff with access to the account’s password
- Use a Loughborough University email address to create the account and where possible use a shared email address rather than an individual’s address
- Where other colleagues or students are granted temporary access to an official account, ensure they have read these guidelines and the account’s password is changed for the ‘takeover’ period
If you believe an official account has been compromised, please notify the Web and Digital team and IT Services immediately.
For general guidance on staying safe online, please see guidance from IT Services.
Raising issues and crisis communications
If an official social media post or account attracts a number of negative comments or it is not clear how best to respond to an enquiry that may impact the University’s reputation, staff should look to escalate this and also flag immediately with our Web and Digital team. A member of the team will then advise you how to proceed.
All University responses and statements will be released through the central University social media channels (Loughborough University/@lborouniversity) and the University website where necessary. Official University accounts or individual’s accounts should not share University statements or responses to emergency communications without central co-ordination.
If staff managing a University account wish to speak out on issues that may be controversial or on issues of national or global importance, then they should contact the Corporate Communications team for guidance or look to amplify any existing content on the issue that has been posted via central University channels.
Individual’s personal and professional accounts
Loughborough University is aware of the opportunities social media can provide for colleagues’ professional activity and encourage staff to use social media for this purpose. At the same time, staff should be aware that social media blurs the line between the professional and the personal.
Personal accounts without mention of the University still have, by indirect association, the potential to bring the institution into disrepute if used inappropriately or maliciously and so care should be taken.
When posting to individual accounts, careful consideration should be made about the appropriateness of the content and if the post could bring the University into disrepute. Use common sense and good judgement.
Be aware of your association with Loughborough University and ensure your profile and related content is consistent with how you wish to present yourself. It is recommended that individual accounts should not:
- Share anything you do not wish to be in the public domain. This includes content posted on private accounts with limited access to the public
- Share anything you would not be willing to say in person to another individual at the University or in your personal life
- Engage in any illegal activity
- Break the social media channels’ rules or terms of service
- Share anything discriminatory, hateful, violent or oppressive
- Bring the University into disrepute by sharing content that is not consistent with the University’s institutional values or reputation as an inclusive, tolerant and anti -discriminatory institution.
It is recommended that all staff members become familiar with each individual social media platform’s privacy settings and put them in place where necessary. However even with high privacy settings in place, staff should be aware they are never completely in control of who shares, views, screenshots or archives your content posted to third-party platforms.
For further general guidance regarding staying safe online, please see guidance from IT Services.
The University does not pro-actively monitor individual’s accounts, however if a concern is raised regarding digital content posted on a staff member’s professional or personal social media account that go against University guidelines, the University has the right to investigate and request the removal of content. Depending on the situation and content of post(s), the matter may also be addressed through the University disciplinary procedure.
The Web and Digital team are here to support all staff using social media professionally. If you would like support or further guidance on the use of social media, please contact the Web and Digital team.
Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom
The University encourages the use of social media in the interests of learning, teaching and research, including business and community engagement partnerships.
These guidelines do not intend to affect or limit freedom of speech or academic freedom within the law and employees are encouraged to use social media to engage in academic exploration and promote healthy academic debate.
Academic freedom ensures that staff, while engaged in the provision of learning, teaching or research in accordance with their terms and conditions of service, have freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom, and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges.
Whilst the tradition of academic freedom will be fully respected, this also requires responsible, appropriate and legal use of the social media channels available to University staff, and they should adhere to the guidelines outlined here and other relating University policies.
Staff are expected to behave respectfully and professionally when exercising academic freedom. Caution should be taken where comments made on social media stray outside of areas of expertise and extreme care needed if commenting on an area where you are not a recognised expert.
These guidelines should be read in conjunction with the University’s guidance relating to Academic Freedom.
Law and legislation
For both individual and official accounts, staff should make themselves aware of relevant legislation when posting on social media. These include:
- Malicious falsehood
- Intellectual property/infringement
- Malicious Communications Act 1988
- Section 127, Communications Act 2003
- Computer Misuse Act 1990