Social media policies

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Most organizations today need to consider social media policies to provide guidance to employees
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Last Update

  • Updated.jpg This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, February 2018


See also Privacy in social networks | Social media evaluation | Social media landscape | The use of social media in higher education | What health librarians do

"...publishing a social media policy can also serve as a statement of 1) what the organization’s relationship with online communities will be and 2) the related behavioral expectations the company has of its employees. This is a much more powerful communication than simply dusting off what most in an organization should already know (Gomes, 2011). Policy scope - Guidelines for university and private use University vision/ mission - Show how social media use aligns with these......."

Social media policies are a critical part of any social media strategy. This is because social media disrupts how people communicate with each other within organizations but also outside; policies guiding its effective use are increasingly needed in the workplace. At a time when mobile devices and smartphones are everywhere social media is used in ways that radically change our information practices and behaviours. No where is this more apparent than in information-based organizations such as archives, libraries and even health organizations. In the past, it was common to wait weeks to speak to someone about a medical issue but now patients seek answers on the Internet, asking for assistance from peers on health 2.0 websites. Historically, hospitals and physicians sent press releases when announcing new services – now, they push information to their user communities via Twitter (the 24/7 “Here-we-are” banner of global conversation), Facebook and other services. As more organizations draft social media policies to guide users through this new digital-social world, more discussion will be needed to respect personal boundaries that break down because of social media sharing. One of the concomitant challenges in this era is how to create a social media policy that is useful yet does not become restrictive.

Here is an example of a Social media policy generating tool.

Considerations in evaluating social media policies

  • Is a social media policy critical to the institution? Is that convincingly articulated in the policy?
  • What content issues, privacy, freedom of expression and legal points/concerns does the policy cover?
  • Does the policy discuss how to manage your digital presence: is someone in charge of the policy? A committee?
  • Review of effective strategies for assessing policy once it is implemented
  • Review successful policies below at various institutions

Health librarian pathfinders

Medical & health library social media policies

See also Social media policy database

Review article I

  • To determine the social networking practices of directors of anesthesiology residency programs; online and paper survey tool
  • 132 anesthesiology residency program directors in the United States; 13-item survey including dichotomous and multiple choice responses was administered using an online survey tool and a paper survey. Data analysis was conducted by descriptive and analytical statistics (chi-square test). A P-value < 0.05 indicated statistical significance.
  • 50% of anesthesiology program directors responded to the survey (66/132). Policies governing social networking practices were in place for 30.3% (n=20) of the programs' hospitals. The majority of program directors (81.8%, 54) reported never having had an incident involving reprimand of a resident or fellow for inappropriate social networking practices. The majority (66.7%, n=44) of responding programs reported that departments did not provide lectures or educational activities related to appropriate social networking practices. Monitoring of social networking habits of residents/fellows by program directors mainly occurs if they are alerted to a problem (54.5%, n=36). Frequent use of the Internet for conducting searches on a resident applicant was reported by 12.1% (n=8) of program directors, 30.3% (n=20) reported use a few times, and 57.6% (n=38) reported never using the Internet in this capacity.
  • Residency programs should have a written policy related to social media use. Residency program directors should be encouraged to become familiar with the professionalism issues related to social media use in order to serve as adequate resident mentors within this new and problematic aspect of medical ethics and professionalism.

Review article II

  • as authorities attempt to use social media, practices can get entrenched in regulatory frameworks
  • usage by authorities touches on regulatory elements, some of which are legal; others are embedded in technologies
  • here, 26 Swedish social media policies are analyzed to understand how conflict between transparency and interaction is dealt with in guidelines
  • paper deals with how diversity of social media is understood and public functions identified
  • by analyzing policy strategies in these documents, it's possible to identify four positions based on social media being perceived as problem/possibility or homogeneous/heterogeneous
  • routines of command and control are established to create goals and practices for social media and to discipline activities to remain firmly in an intentional blueprint
  • this disallows activities to adapt to needs through interaction with citizens; however, paper identifies participatory strategies that are either aimed at increased quality of community services or extending marketability of municipal brand

Review article III

  • single-site qualitative study addresses challenges associated with use of social media by university administrators, faculty and staff (Wandel, 2007)
  • a case study analysis of a university with a social media policy for university employees; describes development and implementation of social media policy for staff, faculty, and administrators and data gathered from Sophia University's websites and documents
  • two research questions: 1) How did SU develop a social media policy governing social networking practices? a) What was the context for developing a social media policy? b) What role did faculty and administrators play in developing a social media policy? c) What are the key components in a social media policy? d) What were the primary concerns and goals of the social media policy developers? 2) How has the social media policy been implemented? a) Have the intended outcomes of the social media policy at Sophia University been achieved? b) How have employees interpreted and experienced their social media policy?

Review article IV

  • article reviews the social media presence of medical schools, and identifies whether student policies explicitly address social media
  • 132 accredited US medical school websites were evaluated by two investigators (March 2010) on Facebook and Twitter
  • all (100% n=132) medical schools had some presence; 95.45% (126/132) used Facebook; 25.76% (34/132) had official pages, 71.21% (94/132) had student groups; 54.55% (72/132) had alumni groups; 10.6% of medical schools (14/132) had Twitter accounts
  • 128 of 132 medical schools (96.97%) had student guidelines or policies; 13 schools (10.16%) had policies that mention social media; 38.46% (5/13) of guidelines included statements about what is inappropriate re: certain behaviors; 53.85% (7/13) encouraged thoughtful and responsible usage
  • most US medical schools have a Facebook presence but no policies re: student social networking; what is appropriate or not
  • policies that inform conduct must be considered; policies at medical schools can provide a blueprint for others

University social media policies & guidelines

Australian government

Archives, libraries and museums

Hospitals & related organizations

US Military

US State resources

Private sector

Government best practices

United Kingdom

Best Practices Toolkit

Checklists to help employees and agencies learn appropriate and transparent ways to interact with and on social media



Personal tools