Phone: 8313 3000
Fax: 8313 5775
Level 9, 9 Gawler Place
The University of Adelaide
SA 5005 Australia
Social Media Etiquette and Obligations
General principles for using social media
The rules don't change just because you're using social media: remember that the same standards apply online as in real life - including laws, University policies, behavioural expectations and the rules of common courtesy - and so do the same consequences for breaching them, including student or staff disciplinary processes in the University setting. The following principles provide some additional guidance specifically relevant to social media use:
- Be respectful, genuine and credible.
- Remember each social media platform is different. Make sure you understand the nuances and accepted communication style of each tool, before you jump in and start posting.
- Remember social media spreads far and wide - please therefore post appropriately. If you wouldn't shout something out to a room full of 100 people, you shouldn't post it online either.
- If you make a mistake, admit it and fix it quickly.
- Maintain your online presence. Having outdated or unresponsive content on a social media page is arguably more compromising than having no presence at all.
- Maintain confidentiality. Social media is inherently unsecure and
far-reaching in its audience. Don't share any confidential, private or
sensitive information through social media.
- Protect your own safety and privacy. Consider your own privacy
and safety before broadcasting real-time details about where you are or
what you are doing. Make sure you fully understand the privacy settings
you have for limiting who can see your information or posts.
- Be aware of liability. You are responsible for you own posts, and
they are almost impossible to erase. Be sure that what you post won't
come back to haunt you later.
- Think about how your posts might affect other people. If you
write something negative or inflammatory about someone on a social media
site, the whole community can see it - so it may have a much greater
impact on others, even though you may not see that impact first hand. If
you wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't post it online.
- Think about what capacity you are acting in. If you are acting in
an official University capacity, or as a person with a University
connection, see the additional guidance below. If you are acting in your
personal capacity, be sure to make that clear (especially where people
might get confused as to whether or not you are speaking on behalf of
Extra things to keep in mind when using social media in a University capacity
- Distinguish between your personal and professional capacity. Make
it clear when you are not speaking on behalf of the University. If an
issue relates to your University role and you are commenting on it, you
should identify yourself and your connection to the University. You must
then behave as the University directs through policies, Codes and
- If you are both a student and a staff member, be sure to distinguish between your roles.
- Act within your authority. Just as you need authority to speak on
behalf of the University to the media or outside entities, you need
authority to speak as a University representative on social media sites.
- Use your online presence to promote the University and not to damage it.
- Staff should exercise careful judgment when interacting with students
on social media sites. The guiding principles should be the same as for
your relationships with students in the non-online world, including
that you do not exert undue influence (or give the perception of
exerting undue influence, or make the student feel like they are being
- Something posted on a social media site is still a written communication,
so the same legal ramifications can flow, such as defamation, trade
practices/fair trading violations or breach of privacy or
confidentiality - and because it's written in a permanent forum, it has
the same evidentiary value as a more formal, hard copy communication.
Check with Legal and Risk Branch before you post something on behalf of
the University if you are unsure whether your post could have legal
- Respect the University's branding. Structure and design your
University social media communications in a way that complies with the
Branding & Visual Identity Policy and the Code of Conduct.
- Reach out to others across the University who are maintaining social media sites or posts,
especially when they are targeted to the same audience. Work together
to ensure a consistent tone and approach (a clear "University voice").
- Ask yourself whether there is anyone who you should keep informed
about your social media communications on behalf of the University.
Think about who you would cc on the same communication if it was in hard
copy or email form - the same people probably should be informed about
your social media posting.