Social media guidelines

Social media plays a key part in the University's engagement with both the internal and greater community. As many staff members use social media as part of their everyday role, these guidelines enable and encourage you to use social media tools in an effective way.

Social media is an important means of engaging with our key stakeholders. As such, these guidelines are primarily intended to enable and encourage you to make new use of social media tools, while providing support, guidance and substantiation to those who already utilise social media on a regular basis. They are also designed to be a useful starting point for anyone wishing to learn about the issues and benefits of using social media.

The guidelines' secondary purpose is to protect the University and individuals within it from any unexpected or undesirable outcomes arising from social media interactions. Inappropriate use of social media can have far-reaching implications.

These guidelines apply to the social media use of all staff, students, contractors and agencies representing the University of Melbourne in any official capacity. They apply to any social media platforms hosted either internally on the University infrastructure or externally by third parties such as Facebook or Twitter. They also apply equally to academic staff using social media as a means to communicate their research and to general staff using social media for campaigns.

These guidelines complement the 'public statements by University staff policy' and the 'requirements relating to public comment' as set out in the 'Appropriate Workplace Behaviour Policy (MPF1328)' as well as the 'Student Conduct Policy (MPF1324)' and the overarching content strategy.

We are committed to upholding the scholarly values of intellectual freedom, honesty, openness and rigour, consistent with the University's vision. The intention of these guidelines is to help you honour these values when representing the University on social media.


Risk management – the establishment of a Risk Management Plan prior to the setup of a social media initiative is recommended to ensure risk controls are effectively implemented and monitored.

Maintenance ­– social media profiles require constant upkeep, and your ability to maintain the profile long term should be considered before establishing a new account.

Administration – an official University of Melbourne or associated social media account may only be administrated by an authorised University of Melbourne representative.

Identity and authenticity – always use an authorised University of Melbourne identity when posting to, or responding from University of Melbourne or associated social media accounts.

Maintain confidentiality – only post publicly available information. Don't disclose or discuss official or classified information, make commitments or engage in activities on behalf of the University of Melbourne unless you are authorised by the appropriate area to do so.

Protect and respect privacy – check the account privacy settings are appropriate for the scope of engagement you wish to undertake. Always protect your own privacy and personal information, and don't share the private details of others. Don't disclose details of private conversations unless you have obtained explicit consent from the relevant parties.

Be impartial – avoid statements that advocate or criticise policies of the University, external organisations, government or political parties. Avoid conflicts of interest through endorsement or criticism of third-party providers, partners, products or services. In line with the Academic Freedom of Expression Policy, the sharing controversial content (eg. research findings or academic opinion) is acceptable; provided that the content is referenced objectively.

Be respectful – be courteous and polite, and sensitive to diversity. Avoid arguments and don't make personal attacks. Do not post obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing, discriminatory or hateful content.

Be accurate – make sure the information you publish is correct and cite sources where appropriate – people may make decisions based on information you post. Only post on your area of expertise and refer to an appropriate University or external resource where necessary.

Consider intellectual property – respect copyright. Always get permission to use words, images or materials online that you do not own. Any use of University of Melbourne or associated branding and logos must receive prior approval.

Accountability – always take responsibility for your actions. If you make a mistake, admit it, and where possible make public corrections. When managing queries, always aim for a resolution in a timely manner, and move the conversation off social media if it escalates by either directing the user to an email, or to one of the University's online resources e.g. 13MELB. When managing complaints or issues, you can contact the Social Media team in the first instance of an escalation for guidance and advice.

Think first – review your content before you post it. Remember that you are responsible for your actions. You should consider the impact your activities could have on yourself and/or the University of Melbourne. Use your common sense and best judgement. If you're not sure, check with your manager first or contact the Social Media team. If in doubt, leave it out.

The Internet is forever: What you publish on the internet can remain public for a long time. Content can also be replicated and shared beyond the original intended audience and sent to recipients who were never expected to see it, or who may view it out of context. You should be aware that according to the terms and conditions of some third-party sites, the content you create is the property of the site where it is posted and so may be re-used in ways which you had not intended.Before you post to a social media site you should understand the tool/platform you are using. It is recommended that you read the terms of service and user guides and look through existing content to get an idea of the posting etiquette and any cultural and behavioural norms associated with the social media platform you intend to engage with.

On your "About" section, you can link to the following Terms of Service, in order to enforce certain rules around appropriate behaviour by users: