Social media guidelines

These guidelines mainly cover the appropriate use by individuals representing their faculty, department or unit. They do not supplant any University Policies, Procedures and Guidelines. They also apply to students who have permission to post on university social media sites. 

While intended to guide social media managers, these guidelines  may also benefit employee or student groups and individuals who maintain and monitor professional and personal sites. 

Faculty, staff and students are expected to conduct themselves according to ethical and behavioural standards that promote an environment of respect, trust and inclusion, where academic excellence can flourish. (See Policies and Regulations

It is important that before starting or continuing your social media activities you review to ensure consistent standards are upheld in the use of these vehicles. Intended to be a living document they will continue to evolve with community feedback. Be sure to check out our list of other helpful resources, including existing McGill policies and general basic tips for various platforms.

Employees, students using social media 
Social media is a great way to stay in touch with colleagues, but can have serious consequences when used without taking precautions. Be sure to read ITs Protect your privacy on social media. Keep in mind that when sharing to a page, a group or profile, whether public or private, any personal information shared about you or anyone mentioned could be captured and shared elsewhere.

We encourage you to explore ways in which social media can help you do your job. Even when you are personally engaging on social media, an affiliation with the University on your profile has the ability to affect the university as a whole.  

In personal posts, you should identify yourself as a faculty or staff member. However, please be clear that you are sharing your personal views as a member of the higher education community, not as a formal representative of McGill. 

McGill Faculties / Departments / Units 
If you are looking to create an account, contact the Social Media team to discuss the social media guidelines at the University, as well as strategy, goals, messaging and best practices, and to request a McGill avatar. 

We will provide some training to new Faculty Social Media Managers, and advise any unit manager. 

When considering opening a social media platform, make sure a strategy is in place for long-term maintenance with goals. 

What are my goals? Who is my audience? What do I want to communicate and how? Can I achieve my goals working with the Faculty? What is the best way to reach my audience? What's the best platform for me? Do we have the resources, both current and long-term? How will we monitor? How will we measure our success? 

The basics:

Use common sense. 
Be aware of privacy issues. 
Play nice, and be honest. 

What to post:  

Watch and follow other similar, successful pages. What types of things do they post? 

  • Interesting upcoming events (lectures, conferences, outings, etc) 

  • Awards or kudos to people or groups in your faculty/department to celebrate your community 

  • (Good) photography and videos are a big draw 

Use the 5-3-2 rule, which states that for every 10 posts you publish: 

  • 5 should be curation - sharing others’ content 

  • 3 should be creation - relevant content you’ve produced yourself 

  • 2 should be humanization - personal, fun and relaxed content that humanizes your unit. 

Compose your posts carefully and thoughtfully. Ask yourself: Could it in any way offend or harm the reputation of the university or members of our community? Not sure? Ask us. 

What to avoid: 

  • Pushing an agenda with controversial topics. You may have strong feelings on a topic, but remember, you are representing your dept./faculty/university. The collective does not have an opinion. Don't take a position or stance on any news about or affecting the University. Opinions may come from individuals in our community, but are never represented as the University, its faculty or its department voice. When we share an opinion of one of our community members, we indicate or tag it as an “Opinion 

  • Your content shouldn’t be an advertisement but more informative, helpful 

  • Irrelevant viral posts, negative or derogatory content 

  • Posts with spelling or grammatical errors 

  • Inconsistent voice in your content. Your social media profiles are an extension of your unit, and although you’re restricted by the format of the social platform you’re posting to, you still have creative control over your voice and tone. When you’re planning out your social content, revisit your personas. Think about what they would be saying on social media and how they’d be saying it. Make sure that the content you publish stays as close to these styles and themes as possible. 

  • Posting the same message across social networks. All social networks are different. They speak to different demographics, and they each lend themselves to different content. LinkedIn is usually more copy-heavy and formal, Instagram is mainly visual and informal, while Twitter is more suited to bite-sized tidbits and emojis and GIFs. Tailor your content to suit each one. 

  • Unaccredited content. Next time you see some content you’d like to share, use it as an opportunity to connect. Click the “share” button on that content so that its source will automatically be included in your post. Alternatively, post the content to your profile and include the social media handle of the source 

  • Hashtag-stuffed content. If you stuff your social content with too many hashtags, then you’ll risk making your post unreadable, and diluting the importance of the more relevant ones. Next time you post, do some hashtag research first to ensure that the ones you’ve selected are relevant to your audience, and to your content - and that you’re following up to date best practices.   

Post regularly 

Feed your followers. A page or feed that's updated sporadically won't hold much interest nor gain you new followers. And, it reflects poorly on the University when unit/department/faculty pages are not maintained. If used consistently, your social media platforms become a key communication and engagement tool for your unit. 

How much posting is enough? What is too much? Depends on the content or the platform you're using. Try it out. Are you getting responses or engagement? More followers? Losing followers? If, for whatever reason, you are no longer using your department/faculty social media account, disable, unpublish or delete your account, and let us know. 

The right person for the job 

Success in social media requires the right personality. Select someone who enjoys interacting with others, has good judgment, good writing skills and has experience on the platforms.  

Safety online 

One of the best ways to protect yourself online is to use a strong, unique password. Never use your McGill email password for your social media accounts. Weak passwords are easily guessed and can lead to serious consequences, such as identity theft, the loss of confidential data, and in some cases compromised systems. See here for some tips on how to create a strong, secure password. Each social media account must have at least two (+) staff members as administrators and a central communications silent administrator. Use a McGill service email account on social media platforms for password recovery. (Ensure that the sign-on credentials are passed on when someone leaves a position and that the log-ins are reset). Provide a temporary password and reset after Instagram takeovers. If assigning casual employees or interns to update social media accounts, pay strict attention to their work and if possible approve posts before publishing. 

Contests 

Many use contests as part of their social media efforts to increase engagement. Contests through such platforms are still governed by legislation and rules that must be followed. Managers should be aware of the particular rules and restrictions of the different social media platforms. In Quebec, the Act respecting Lotteries, Publicity Contests and Amusement Machines and the Rules respecting Publicity Contests set out the requirements that must be followed when organizing a publicity contest where the total value of the prizes is greater than $100. 

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updated December 2020 -LD

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