Social Media Guidelines for Personal and Professional Use

Social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Instagram are powerful communication tools that impact organizational, professional, and personal reputations. They also easily blur the lines between institutional and personal voices. The office of Marketing and Communications developed the guidelines to help individuals utilize social media channels, on behalf of WOU, and for personal use, in a professional capacity. 

Manage Your Online Identity

Be aware of your association with Western Oregon University in online social networks. Ensure your profile and content are consistent with how you wish to present yourself to colleagues, students, parents, and other constituents.

Also, never provide personal information that scam artists or identity thieves could use against you. It is never a good idea to provide your home address, telephone number, or e-mail address on social media. Stay aware of “phishers” or those who might try to hack your account. In the event of a breach, make sure to reset your password. Always log out of your account when using public computers.

Understand Established Policies

Know and follow all applicable University policies regarding communications, including, but not limited to:

Personal use of social media during work hours should adhere to the Acceptable Use Policy. When in doubt about any of these guidelines and policies, consult with your supervisor.

Know the Law

Respect copyright and fair use laws as well as any other regulations pertaining to your work.

Be Aware of Liability

Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and other online media are great tools for engagement and two-way communication. Given the nature of this two-way, real-time communication, there is the potential for significant risks associated with inappropriate use.

Remember that you are legally liable for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be proprietary, copyrighted, defamatory, libelous, or obscene.

Employers are increasingly conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending any offers. Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you.

If you are unsure about a work-related posting, seek approval from your supervisor or manager before posting it.

Does it Pass the Publicity Test?

If the content of your message would not be acceptable for face-to-face conversation, by phone, or other mediums, it will not be acceptable for a social media site. Ask yourself: would I want to see this published in the newspaper or posted on a billboard tomorrow or 10 years from now?

Use a Disclaimer to Maintain Transparency

If you publish content to any website related to the work you do or subjects associated with the University, clarify that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of Western Oregon University.

Be thoughtful about your posting’s content and potential audiences. Be honest about your identity. Make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the University by using a disclaimer such as:

 “The views expressed on this [blog, website, etc.] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Western Oregon University.”

Maintain Confidentiality

Do not post or share confidential or proprietary information about Western Oregon University, its students and alumni, or your fellow employees. Respect University policies and federal requirements such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects students’ personally identifiable information in educational records.

Think Before You Post

There’s no such thing as a “private” social media site. Search engines can turn up posts and pictures years after the publication date. Comments, photos, or private messages can easily be forwarded or copied. Archival systems save information even if you delete a post. If you feel angry or passionate about a subject, it’s wise to delay posting until you are calm and clear-headed.

Show Respect

Respect your peers. Refrain from publishing content that contains slurs, personal insults or attacks, and/or profanity or obscenity. Do not engage in any conduct on a social media site that would not be acceptable in a Western Oregon University workplace.

Be a Valued Community Member

If you engage in a Facebook page post or comment on someone’s blog, make sure you are contributing valuable insights. Don’t post information about topics like WOU events or a book you’ve authored unless you are sure it will be of interest to readers. Self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being banned from websites or groups.

Protect the brand

The WOU logo cannot be modified or used for personal endorsements. The WOU name cannot be used to promote a product, cause, political party, or candidate. When in doubt, contact the Marketing & Communications Office at