Key themes for policy and guidance

Through consideration of literature reviewed, analysis of primary and secondary data, case studies and closer examination of policies provided by organisations in response to my MSc study, it is evident that where guidance exists it is variable.

So I have made some suggestions that organisations might find useful.

Professional use policy content:

  • Official accounts should be appropriately branded
  • Be clear on who has access – ensure these individuals are fully trained
  • Be clear when staff will be online to answer queries
  • Do not allow accounts to be a mix of professional and personal – this is the ultimate blurring of boundaries and can create contradiction issues around tone of voice and content
  • Staff who make use of official accounts should have training or at least a discussion around acceptable use
  • Confidential or identifiable information must not be shared e.g. photos and videos, the treatment of patients, police operations.

Personal use content:

  • If in doubt, employers should not be referenced on personal accounts
  • Employer’s logo should not be used, nor should staff post photos taken in the workplace or posing in uniform
  • Privacy settings should be set for ‘friends only ‘and consider from whom ‘friend’ requests are sent
  • Despite privacy settings, content can be shared or saved in formats such as ‘screen dumps’ so do not ever consider that a comment made to ‘friends’ will stay within that circle or that a ‘friend’ may take offence and report content elsewhere
  • Consider any groups you may join and if they are inappropriate to your role or offensive to others
  • Disclaimers around ‘tweets my own views’ or ‘tweets not signifying endorsement’ are pointless and offer no protection
  • Confidential or identifiable information must not be shared e.g. photos and videos, the treatment of patients, police operations
  • Be professional – avoid making disparaging, racist or derogatory comments about your day, colleagues, patients, clients, the public etc that could bring your professionalism or the reputation of your employer into disrepute
  • Always consider how others might react to the content in a post or tweet
  • Avoid comments that could undermine the position or impact the reputation of yourself, your employer or colleagues
  • Workshops should be held for staff to advise on personal social media use, including examples and issues to be aware of.

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