A few weeks I blogged about an article in Harvard Business Review that discussed the dangers of ignoring social media. Academic medical centers are just beginning to realize the power of Facebook, Twitter, and blogging.
Last Saturday I attended a session at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges on social media policy. My own institution provides some blogging space for the faculty, as well as having a presence on Facebook and Twitter. We definitely fall in the upper half of the pack for social media participation; however, I cannot find guidelines anywhere on our website for faculty participation online outside of the university's channels.
The most thoughtful policy example is Vanderbilt Medical Center's Social Media Toolkit. Official sites for the medical center and its components must be applied for and approved via official channels and meet guidelines. If you are representing VUMC, you will play by their rules; that seems fair and just.
What if one of their faculty blogged with Scientopia?
Online social media allow VUMC faculty, staff, and students to engage in professional and personal conversations. These guidelines apply to faculty, staff and students who identify themselves with VUMC and/or use their Vanderbilt email address in social media platforms such as professional society blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. for deliberate professional engagement or casual conversation. These guidelines apply to private and password protected social media platforms as well as to open social platforms.
1. Follow the same VUMC Credo behavior, HIPAA, Conflict of Interest Policy, Privacy and general civil behavior guidelines cited above including respecting copyrights and disclosures, and not revealing proprietary financial, intellectual property, patient care or similar sensitive or private content.
2. If faculty/staff/students identify themselves as a member of the VUMC faculty or staff or student in any online forum and/or use their Vanderbilt email address, faculty/staff/students make it clear that they are not speaking for VUMC, and what they say is representative of their individual personal views and opinions and not necessarily the views and opinions of VUMC.
3. Faculty and staff and students are thoughtful about how they present themselves as a VUMC faculty, staff or student member in online networks. By virtue of self identifying as part of VUMC in such a network, faculty/staff/students connect themselves to, and reflect upon, VUMC colleagues, managers and even VUMC patients and donors.
4. Remember that all content contributed on all platforms becomes immediately searchable and can be immediately shared. This content immediately leaves the contributing individual faculty/staff/students members’ control forever.
5. If someone or some group offers to pay faculty/staff/students for participating in an online forum in their VUMC role, offers advertising for pay and/or for endorsement, this could constitute conflict of interest and VUMC policies and guidelines apply.
6. If someone from the media or press contacts faculty, staff, or students about posts made in online forums that relate to VUMC in any way, faculty/staff/students alert their manager/leadership and contact News & Communications before responding.
7. Job postings follow Vanderbilt’s Human Resources (HR) established processes. Social Media may not be used in place of HR processes.
8. Marketing, News & Communications, VUSM and VUSN provides some official VUMC and/or VUSM and VUSN information that can be appended to social media sites.
So if you identify yourself as a faculty member, even solely through use of their email system, then you are subject to the Vanderbilt policy. If this policy applied to me, I would not be subject to it at WhizBANG! since I do not use an official university email for my correspondence, nor do I identify my institution here. Now, in this day and age, that information is merely a Google Instant Search away (and my name is unusual enough that I will be at the top of the search list). I also include a disclaimer to cover my butt with any of the good folks who send me money for my efforts.
Do you know the social media policy at your institution? Do they have one? Or are they waiting for disaster, like the executive in the HBR article?