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Social Media Polaroid Icons, Top tips for interacting with social media sites

There are lots of things to consider when interacting online, including content, language and general behaviour.

These top tips, in the form of DO and DON'T suggestions, will help you to stay safe online and avoid any unnecessary confrontation or damage to reputation.


  • Know and follow the university’s Social Media Guidance and student conduct policies.

  • Know that you are personally responsible for the content you publish online and be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time – protect yours and the university’s privacy and reputation and don’t act in any way that might harm this.

  • Identify yourself—name and, when relevant, role—when you discuss the University online. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the university.

  • Respect copyright, IP, fair use and financial disclosure laws.

  • Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective. The University of Cumbria brand is best represented by its people and what you publish may reflect on that brand.

  • Use blogging and other social media to establish expertise and positive reputation. Active use of blogging, micro-blogging, discussion forums, etc. can be good for your visibility in your field, and can help to reinforce the university's reputation as an open and transparent organisation that is an engaging participant in academic and other debate.

  • Use social networking for informal discussions and collaboration with distant colleagues, and for interacting with those working in your field.

  • When responding to queries, redirect enquirers to the University of Cumbria website as the official, definitive source of information. Please direct enquiries to specific pages on the website or to the email address of a person or department that can help.

  • Be open about who you are when making factual corrections or other contributions. If you are confident about the content of your contributions – identify yourself. If you are not confident about the content; then it should not be posted.

  • Remember the university voice (friendly, approachable, professional, authoritative). The tone should be conversational and warm: keep the tone friendly and accessible and write in the first person wherever possible.

  • Become a useful member of any online community you join or create: if you only ever use social media to promote your own activities you run the risk of alienating your target audiences.

  • Make the commitment to respond promptly. Social media is all about timely interaction: don't set something going if you're not going to take part; if you respond, be prepared for follow-up interaction.

  • Contact the university's Communications Office for advice if you've been contacted by the press about posts on a social media site, to ensure you make the best of the opportunity.

  • Have an exit strategy: a social media site you're using might close, change its terms and conditions, lose its following, start charging, etc. and you should be prepared for what to do if this should happen. Contact the university's webteam for advice on this matter.

  • Seek advice from your Line Manager / Personal Academic Tutor if you have any queries about your social media activities.


  • Don't put anything online that you wouldn't feel comfortable with seeing in a newspaper.

  • Don't disclose any personal information beyond your name, specialism(s) and role. Your personal privacy and identity should be protected.

  • Don't disclose any personal information about others. Their privacy should also be protected.

  • Don't identify another person as being a member of university staff or alumni – until they have identified themselves in that position. It is not your choice to build another person’s online identity.

  • Don't provide confidential or other proprietary information and never discuss the university’s business performance or other sensitive matters publicly. Remember: News spreads quickly on the internet and mistakes are difficult to fix.

  • Don't discuss topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory – such as politics and religion.

  • Do not take part in any activity that may be illegal or questionable.

  • Don't use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in the university’s workplace.

  • Don't pick or get involved in fights, be the first to admit to your own mistakes. Consult the university's Communications Office if you have an issue that you feel you cannot resolve.

  • Don’t wade into potentially heated and controversial discussions. It's usually far better for our users to defend our reputation than for us to appear defensive and/or confrontational.

  • Don’t establish a presence on a social media site and then leave it unused.

  • Don’t spread yourself too thinly. You can reasonably only maintain a full presence on one or two social media sites.

  • Don’t bombard (spam) social media sites with promotional messages. Where it is appropriate to directly promote yourself or the University; be aware that blatant self-promotion is likely to alienate more users than it wins over.

  • Don’t masquerade as someone else or use alternative online identities to support or promote your views and/or arguments.

  • Don't use the university logo unless approved to do so.

  • IMPORTANT: Many social media sites allow membership from the age of 13. Many of our prospective / future students are currently aged under 18. You must NOT breach any of the laws or university rules with regards to knowingly communicating with minors. If you have any doubts:

    • Staff: Contact your Line Manager.
    • Students: Contact your Personal Academic Tutor.
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