Social Media

Social Media


The Social Media Guideline provides guidance to University    staff who plan to engage in social media in the capacity as an employee of    Macquarie University.


PurposeTo provide guidance to University staff who plan to engage in social media in the capacity as an employee of Macquarie University.                


“Social media” refers to websites and online media that allow people    to interact, comment, share digital media and participate in discussions.

The following are the most prevalent forms of social media:
  • Social networks eg Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Linkedin
    These websites and networks allow    you to add friends, create groups, participate in discussion and chat and    post digital media such as videos and photos.
  • Blogs eg sites hosted on or powered by Blogger or         Wordpress
    Blogs are websites that    normally feature timely online journal-style content on a particular topic.    Typically they allow and invite comments and feedback.
  • Micro blogs eg Twitter
    Micro blogs allow you as    the user to post short messages that are open and public. You can ‘follow’    the posts of other users, which then appear in your stream.
  • Wikis eg Wikipedia
    Wikis are collaboratively    created repositories of content. Wikis allow users to create and edit new and    existing articles and content.
  • Photo and video sharing eg YouTube, Vimeo,      Flickr, Instagram      and Snapchat
    These websites allow users to post video or photo content. They also allow you to comment or share other people’s contributions
  • Social Bookmarking eg Delicious, Digg, Reddit
    These sites allow users    to share and rate their favourite content and comment on the submissions of    others.
  • Question and Answer sites eg Quora, Yahoo         Answers
    These sites allow users    to post questions and invite answers from the public.
  • Location-based services eg Foursquare
    Location-based services    allow you to ‘check in’ at physical locations, this is then shared online.
There are many reasons for us to be active as an organisation in social media. Examples include:
  • Social media is         often the forum where important social and political discussions are         taking place. As a University we encourage our staff to be an active         part of these discussions particularly as it relates to areas of         expertise.
  • Social media is an         effective channel to communicate our ideas and messages, and can         leverage a powerful ‘multiplication’ effect as content can be shared         with a user’s entire network.
  • There are many         marketing opportunities available through social media and its         widespread use by the audience we wish to reach.
  • Monitoring social         media can give us an insight as an organisation as to how we are         perceived in the community.

As with traditional media, ill-considered comments and poor responses    to particular issues and circumstances can rapidly develop into negative    issues. This can have a damaging effect on our reputation. A particular    nuance of social media is that both negative and positive stories can spread    at a rapid pace and require an organisation to respond at a speed that is    difficult within traditional organisational structures.

Another nuance is that audiences both consume content and participate    in its creation, such that a negative issue can evolve and develop based on    the contributions of others which may or may not have any factual basis.

As a University we strive to be at the cutting edge of new    understanding; we are an environment that encourages freedom of thought and    expression. This necessitates that we are active participants in dialogue and    the exchange of ideas. As a community of free thinkers we are also likely to    be a community with a variety of viewpoints that may or may not agree with    mainstream commentary on issues. At the same time we need to consider the representation    of our organisation that we aim to maintain and promote. As such our ideas do    not exist in isolation, but rather within the organisational community of    Macquarie University whose values need to be respected and embodied.

As a member of staff it is important that you understand your    obligations when commenting in public forums, including through social media.    You are required by the Staff Code of Conduct to comply with the Public    Comment Policy. It is important that you take the time to understand these obligations.

The following points outline some key principles to employ when you    are active in social media:

Speak only on your area of expertise
The Public Comment Policy details the    topics that you are permitted to comment on as an official representative of    the University. You are only to comment or post as an official representative    of Macquarie University on matters that relate directly to your area of    expertise.

Where you are commenting outside your expertise please use a    disclaimer such as “The views expressed are my own and do not necessarily    represent the official views of Macquarie University”

Show respect and be positive
It is important to be aware how quickly online discussion can descend    into negative and potentially reputation damaging argument. On the flip side,    positive and respectful comments are greatly appreciated in the online    sphere. Positive and respectful interaction can often turn those with    negative opinions of Macquarie University into advocates when they experience    genuine human interaction and engagement with their issues. With this in mind    it is important to avoid being negative or argumentative and post and comment    with a respectful and positive tone. Try to avoid tit-for-tat dialogue that    can prolong or deepen a negative issue. It is also helpful to adopt a human    and informal tone that avoids ‘legal’ sounding language.

Be transparent, accurate and honest
Where possible post with your real name and declare your position    within Macquarie University. It is also vital to ensure that your information    is accurate – if you require time to gather facts mention that rather than    post something incorrect that will require a retraction later. Be aware that    any attempt to mislead or obscure the truth within a social media context is    likely to be uncovered and will typically prolong or deepen a negative issue    surrounding the University.

Follow up
Social media provides us with a great gauge as to the perceptions of    our organisation. If you are alerted to an organisational issue please be    diligent in notifying those that may be able to resolve it. If you make any    promises to someone through social media please ensure they are followed up    and resolved.

Use judgement and commonsense
When posting on any social media platform we need to be aware of the consequences of our opinions and the speed with which these can be spread. Before you post, stop and think:
  • Are you         uncomfortable with what you are about to post?
  • Are you         uncomfortable about personally owning and being associated with this         comment?
  • Will this comment         inflame or offend your audience?

If you answered yes to any of these questions reconsider posting, and    think about discussing it with your manager or the online marketing team. You    are responsible for ensuring that your post complies with the Public Comment Policy and you will    be responsible for the consequences of your actions.

Dealing with mistakes
If you realise you have posted something that is wrong, correct it    quickly and publicly. It is far better to own up to mistakes and maintain    transparency than try to cover them up as they are often uncovered.

Perhaps the most difficult area of social media engagement is knowing how to respond to negative opinion or criticism. For a more detailed outline on this topic refer to Social Media Toolkit. However, you should follow these principles:
  • As a general rule         genuine negative feedback should not be deleted. It is far better to         respond positively and constructively.
  • Respond in a timely manner. Negative issues can    become worse if they are left with no response. This can be a challenge    depending on your organisational structure. It is worth considering whether    the appropriate measures are in place to allow a quick response before an    issue arises.
  • If the issue relates         to a real problem, let the commenter know what is being done to resolve         the matter in a friendly manner. If there is something you can do to         assist them, get the ball rolling and let them know what is being done.
  • If a comment is spam         or trolling (an inflammatory comment designed to start a negative         argument) the comment may be ignored or deleted.
  • If a comment uses         profanity or is highly offensive it may be deleted – it is useful to         publish terms of use when you create a social media property.
For advice on best practice with regard to establishing a presence in social media please refer to the Social Media Toolkit.

Guideline Information

Contact Officer
Manager, Online Marketing
Date Approved
15 September 2011
Approval Authority
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Engagement
Date of Commencement
15 September 2011
Amendment History
30 Sept 2019 - Approval Authority updated from Director, Marketing to Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Engagement in accordance with responsibilities per Delegations of Authority Register.
27 April 2016 – added Instagram and Snapchat to Photo and Video Sharing examples.
Date for Next Review
September 2014
Related Documents
Public Comment Policy
Social Media Toolkit
Staff Code of Conduct
Social Media, Social Network, Blog, Wiki
Back to the top of this page