Posting on social media

Once you have created your social media account and registered it with Corporate Communications, you are ready to start sharing content and engaging with your audience.

You should already have developed some content as part of your social media strategy. Below are some general notes on best practice when sharing content and interacting with others on social media.

Always remember that posts, comments and material you post on social media sites on behalf of the University carry the same legal status as press releases and formal statements. Social media is an enormously positive and powerful tool, but its use carries great responsibility and can pose risks which in practice are frequently overlooked. If in any doubt about content or risks, please consult Corporate Communications.

Proofread

Use plain English, check grammar and spelling (avoid Americanisation), use a spell checker if you need to. Be approachable, authoritative, informative and always polite. Consider the tone and effect of your words – to the world, you represent the University and are expected to uphold its standards.

Consider the context

Always carefully consider the context of what you are about to post. Is there anything else happening in the world which might make your message or post appear insensitive or crass? Could it have unintended consequences? Check news headlines and University press releases regularly and be aware of recent announcements before you post.

Tone and content

Be interesting. Avoid jargon, lengthy posts, boasting, cheesy marketing or inane comments. Speak about what you know, avoid speculation. Keep content lively, think about what your audience wants to know. Test your ideas on others before you post. Always try to link back to your School or unit webpages or the University webpages. Look for interesting images, graphics or other digital content to accompany text, if appropriate – and make sure they are of good quality. For access to the University’s comprehensive image database, contact Corporate Communications.

Don't auto-generate posts

Avoid linking social media accounts (e.g. Facebook with Twitter) and generating automatic reposts. Instead, use them independently and modify your content to best suit individual platforms.

Be current and active

Try to update your pages and add new content at least once a week. If you cannot commit to one post a week then you should re-evaluate your social media strategy – it is better to have no presence than an out-of-date or inactive one.

Monitor

Monitor your pages regularly, at least once a day. Respond promptly to questions and inquiries and redirect any inquiry which you can’t answer. Increasing numbers of prospective students and other stakeholders are using social media as their first contact with the University.

Moderate

Moderate any offensive or inappropriate comments. If public comments or posts can be made on your platform, it is essential that you have adequate procedures in place to ensure they are monitored and removed if necessary, even out of hours – please make sure your notifications are set to ‘on’ so that you are notified of comments.

Engage diplomatically

Never argue online. The essence of social media is two-way communication. If you are not willing to engage or are not prepared for people to ask questions or post comments, then social media is perhaps not for you. On some platforms, you can amend your privacy or control settings to block comments and questions, but this should always be the exception. Refer any abusive or threatening comments to Corporate Communications.

Use discretion

Do not publish, tweet or post anything on official pages or channels which may bring the University into disrepute or cause embarrassment, unless such material is unavoidable in the course of the norms of academic discourse, research or publication. As a rule, if you would not be comfortable seeing it next to your name on the front page of The Times, don’t post it. If you publish, post, blog or tweet as a private individual, but are identifiable as an employee of the University of St Andrews, it is good practice to ensure that you have a prominent disclaimer stressing that your views and comments are your own and not necessarily those of the University. Please be aware that depending on the content you may still be held responsible for the consequences, even if you have a prominent disclaimer.

Do not break news

Please do not break news or important announcements, or speculate about University business via your channel. All breaking news should be handled by Corporate Communications via the official channels – if in doubt, seek guidance from Corporate Communications.

Please do not post personal updates on official pages – be wary of linked accounts and accidental posting of personal updates on the wrong account.

No third party endorsements

Please do not endorse, support, advertise, link to, criticise or comment upon any external business, third party or individual via official channels without seeking advice or permission from Corporate Communications. This includes “liking” businesses or products on Facebook, but as a general rule does not include following people or organisations on Twitter. Beware of businesses looking for retweets, likes or comments.

Be considerate

Please do not publish confidential or personal information, text, images or video which may threaten the University’s interests or the privacy, safety, reputation and well being of any member of staff, student or private individual. If you are publishing a picture, was it taken in a public place and, if not, have the people in the picture given their permission for its public use?

Give proper accreditation

Please do not publish, copy, tweet or retweet any text or content which may infringe copyright. Have you checked and credited appropriately where necessary?