5. Guidelines for Professional Use

from the PrISM Best Practices Guide

The following social media guidelines pertain to participating in a social media forum as an individual rendering their professional opinion.  These guidelines differ from what might best practices for those operating in “official use” (defined above) or personal use (i.e.  Personal content on privately maintained social media platforms)

  • Communicating within one’s scope of expertise is consistent with expectations of responsible conduct of “professional” social media engagement.

    Example:  A molecular biologist specializing in infectious diseases commenting on appropriateness of tests or treatments for plague is a good example of professional use.  This same individual commenting on the psychological effects of plague may be a poor example of professional use, as this is beyond the individuals scope of expertise.

  • The Health Science Center values its personnel engaging in professional social media use.  With this recognition comes the responsibility of the individual to represent himself or herself in appropriate, professional manner.

    As a general rule, content is appropriate for professional social media use if you would be willing to convey that same content in a professional meeting at the Health Science Center, while wearing your official employee badge.  If it is something you would not say to your supervisor, students, patients, or administrators in person, they it is not appropriate for social media either.

  • Be transparent in representing your affiliation during professional use.  You gain credibility by your affiliation with the Health Science Center, and in turn, the HSC further advances its mission by your contribution of you as content experts.

    It is a recommended practice to identify your affiliation with the Health Science Center when engaging in professional use. It is a recommended practice to allow the audience to distinguish profession versus official use, consider including a disclaimer such as, “While I work for the UT Health Science Center, I am not an official spokesperson, and the following comments represent my own professional opinion,” or similar statement.

  • Be consistent in the way your present your professional profile.  Your profile and content should be consistent in the manner you wish to present yourself to colleagues, students, parents, alumni and others.  It is easy to track a user profile across different social media platforms, so avoid mixing official, profession, and personnel identities.

    Example: If you use the handle CancerDoc357on twitter in a professional use format, do not use this same handle to post personal yahoo reviews that are NOT of a professional tone.  This could provide linkage between your different online “voices” (i.e. professional and personal) that you may wish be kept separate.

  • Always write as though your postings could be made accessible to everyone and could be available in perpetuity.
  • University policy is just as applicable in social media realm as in other domains of communication, and these guidelines do not supersede University policy.  The purpose of these guidelines is to give guidance to personnel on how to effectively use social media in the context of existing university and federal policies.  The following are some important policies to review and consider:

Proceed to Section 6: Links and References
Return to Section 4: Guidelines for Official Use

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