Social media - is your personal profile professional?

Unless you curate your profile carefully, your online presence may reflect on the institution you work for as well.

Social media is a powerful tool that allows us to express our identity through what we “like” and the campaigns and issues we support. But being connected can blur a line between what’s personal and what’s professional in our lives.

Some of us can’t escape being associated with what we do and where we work. Work can turn up in our online comments, our photos, and our connections.

When that association is obvious, we need to make sure we are protecting our professional reputation and that of the University.

The basic rules of social media etiquette are a good start

  • Be polite and respectful. Don’t post or endorse material that is defamatory, violates the privacy or rights of others (bullying, discrimination), breaches copyright or any other laws. Online comments carry the same legal risks as other forms of communications. And they can reach a wider audience, are more difficult to remove, and are easily searchable.
  • Use appropriate channels to resolve complaints. Social media is not an appropriate forum to air grievances and could open you up to defamation charges. If you have a complaint against a colleague and can’t speak directly to the person involved, discuss your situation with your manager or follow HR procedures.
  • Maintain confidentiality. Don’t share any work-related information that isn’t publicly available, and pay particular care to guard information that is confidential, private or sensitive. Even private messages sent through social media platforms can’t be considered secure.
  • Avoid discussing University business on social media. See our previous blog on why University communications should always be through University systems.

Protecting the University’s reputation

The University of Adelaide is distinguished in the world as a top-ranking higher education institution. It promotes values such as honesty, respect and fairness in all activities. Where you’re associated with the University on social media, you’re expected to model these values too.

When your connection with the University is clearly identifiable, take care to:

  • Use your online presence to support the University, not to damage it. Consider carefully before posting any comments or images that reference the University’s brand or your colleagues – should you edit or crop?
  • Speak within your authority. Be careful not to give the impression that you’re speaking on behalf of the University.
  • Avoid displaying the University logo in your images.
  • Abide by University policies related to social media use.

Employment relationships are based on mutual trust, confidence and respect, no matter the context.

Your obligations as an employee under the University’s Enterprise Agreement and Code of Conduct may still apply, even when you are using a personal social media account. See our previous blog - Be Social media aware - take care with what you share.

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