Library Social Media Guidelines

At my last (non-library) job, we were actually beginning to implement social media more, so I did have a bit of a chance to work on a social media policy, albeit an unofficial one. Many of those guidelines could translate to a library, as well.

Identify yourself as a library employee. We want to be candid about who is posting from and to our accounts. If you are using a library related social media account or you are using your personal account to comment on our profile or blog, be open about the fact that you are employed by the library.

When posting as a library employee, avoid using the account as a platform for your own agenda. Your personal political, religious, and social views are not necessarily those of the library or its users, therefore it is inappropriate to use the library account to espouse those. Please reserve that kind of posting for your personal, non-library account and use the library account for library-related posting only.

Keep your library posting and personal posting separate. If you do identify yourself as a library employee on your personal account, include a disclaimer stating that you are not posting on behalf of the library and that your views are your own.

Maintain a professional attitude when posting. Be polite when responding to commenters, even if those commenters are not polite to you. Avoid engaging in any online fights. Be respectful of the library users and your coworkers. Remember that you are representing the library.

Don’t disclose any sensitive information. If something isn’t supposed to be public knowledge, do not share it on the library’s accounts or your personal accounts.

Make sure what you post is accurate. Any information you post should be double-checked to ensure that it is factual and/or contains the correct scheduling information if needed.

Use common sense when posting. Remember that nothing on the internet is every truly private, nor can it ever truly be deleted. If you are unsure whether you should post something, check with your superior before doing so.

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4 responses

  1. I love that you included a “common sense clause” in your guidelines here. I think for some, this seems rather obvious, but in light of some of the things people say on Facebook or Twitter, it never hurts to reinforce the idea of utilizing a little common sense when posting. I also think it is very important to identify yourself as an employee of the library when posting comments on blogs, etc. This is another tangent of transparency, and hiding that you are an employee of the library might make patrons feel like the employee was posting just to give the library better reputation, and fluffing comments. In addition, tone and attitude are important to remember. Readers can get the wrong impression so it is important to make sure that your tone is not rude or can be misconstrued as rude… I always say that if you have a doubt about the tone, have someone else proofread it to make sure it’s nothing but professional and polite!

  2. Hi Kim,

    I like your policy. It’s clear without being too detailed.

    We have a social media policy where I work: don’t post anything about our organization on your personal site without asking someone first. It’s so vague, I don’t actually know what I am supposed to do or not do! I even “unliked” our organizational page so that I wouldn’t accidentally share something. I also limited my timeline to my collegues, which is probably a good idea anyway.

    I came across this article on Mashable that I thought might be interesting: http://mashable.com/2012/06/14/reporter-remove-facebook-post/

    1. Thanks for the link- when I followed it I came across this related article that I think is also very interesting http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/176957/why-your-news-organizations-social-media-policy-may-be-illegal/

      I’m not sure if the legal protections apply to all workers, but it seems like an area that is still subject to a lot of debate and that it isn’t really clear what specific social media activities an employer can forbid.

      It seems unreasonable that employers would forbid someone from even mentioning where they are employed- that information is requested all the time and people reveal it in casual conversation (unless they are super secret agents or something classified!). And encouraging employees to “like” the employer could have a positive effect in that they would appear more popular and could also convey information to employees as well as customers that would raise morale and encourage loyalty.

  3. Hi Kim! I really enjoyed reading these guidelines. In my opinion, the second point sounds like it would be the hardest to adhere to, and potentially the most disastrous for the company. When I was younger, I used to ignore disclaimers like “Person does not reflect the opinions of Company,” but now I see how important it is to keep personal and company ideologies separate. There is a very fine line between attaching a personable face to an organization and knowing when you have said too much. Unfortunately, this is not something we can learn by trial and error, which I think is one of the most intimidating aspects of social media today.

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