Professional Use of Social Media

These guidelines do not apply to employee internet activities that do not identify an employee or faculty member with URMC and are purely personal. However, all official social media platforms (YouTube channels, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc.) representing URMC entities must be initiated and/or authorized by URMC Marketing and URMC Public Relations & Communications (PR). 

Considering a Social Media Presence for your Department or Program?

If a department or a faculty member wishes to establish a departmental or individual social media site that purports to represent URMC, they must do so in ways that preserve and promote URMC’s reputation – in terms of content, tone and visual presentation.

Therefore, to ensure that a consistent brand and voice is presented online, all official social media platforms (YouTube channels, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc.) that purport to represent URMC entities must be initiated and/or authorized by URMC Marketing and URMC Public Relations & Communications (PR). Any pre-existing, public-facing social media account branded with or referencing URMC will be subject to review by PR and Marketing and may be amended or removed by PR or Marketing. Social media sites approved by PR or Marketing may be removed if users fail to follow these guidelines and/or any other limits imposed by PR or Marketing.

Before you make the decision to engage in social networking for your department or program, consider these important questions:

  • Who are you trying to engage? Your audience may or may not be plugged into a particular social media platform. Figuring out who you want to have conversation with – and which online communities they use (if any) – will help determine which platforms are best for you.
  • What’s your goal? Are you looking for a periodic, one-way communications (e.g., promoting events, or sending out news about your department)? If so, a news release, website or an eNewsletter might be a better choice. However, if you’re prepared for an active, ongoing conversation, a Facebook page or Twitter account might be a good fit – as long as you have time and content necessary for keeping up a back-and-forth dialogue. (If your communication need is more short-term, you may always send news and announcements to urmctoday@urmc.rochester.edu or your designated PR liaison.  We can help you determine how best to publicize that information.)  
  • How much time can you commit?  Building and maintaining a successful social media presence takes time – at least two hours a day to build a great Facebook community, for instance, and more if you’re planning to build a dynamic blog. You also need the resources to promote the site.  Aside from workload, you also have to strike the right tone (friendly, but polished), and you must be prepared to seek help when a conversation steers into a direction that may require involvement from HR, PR, Security or other URMC officers.
  • Who will manage the site?  All URMC-sponsored social media platforms must have an accountable individual, a “Content Manager” who is accountable for daily monitoring of the site, overseeing the quality of its content and the frequency with which it is updated.

Getting Approval (Applying for a Social Media Application)

To apply for a social media application, read the terms below and then fill out the application form linked here. A PR or Marketing representative from our Social Media Practices Team* will contact you to review your application. (Please note: If your application is for a Facebook page, and that page’s creation is approved, that same Social Media Practices Team representative should be added as a page administrator. This measure is for security and access purposes only – not for actively managing or supplying page content.)

Applicants may be required to “apprentice” by providing content to official URMC sites.  Based on quality and frequency of posts, a decision will then be made about whether the content presented warrants its own social media presence.

Upon signing your Content Owner agreement form, linked here, you are agreeing to the terms below:

Terms for URMC Social Media Account

If you or your department applies for a social media account and you are named a “Content Owner,” you are responsible for posting content and maintaining compliance with URMC policies including those related to HIPAA, Human Subjects Protection, Conflict of Interest, Security, Safety, Non-endorsement, and Human Resources; you're also responsible for ensuring that your content is accurate, protects intellectual property and privacy, and that any comments are respectful/adhere to basic URMC policies. Naturally, this requires close daily monitoring (for Facebook, we strongly recommend leveraging a smartphone "Pages" app wired with push notifications--or configuring your admin panel settings so that comments are mailed to an email account you check daily; More monitoring tips can be found here).

Content Owners must sign an agreement form. Content owners also should be familiar with other applicable University IT policies (available for review on the University IT website). 

Each Content Owner agrees:

  • That only qualified URMC professionals will provide general medical or health information. Social media cannot be used to provide individualized medical advice.
  • To respect copyrights and disclosures.  Content owners are responsible for obtaining the consent of all parties involved in publication of recordings, photos, images, and text.
  • To prevent stagnant conversation. Social media content must be refreshed at least once weekly (blog), three times weekly (Facebook), and four times weekly (Twitter).
  • To use social media efficiently. All social media platforms should have a specific purpose; topics discussed should be relevant to the mission of URMC.
  • If warranted, to respond to comments within 24 hours. Comments should be managed promptly (smartphone apps with push notifications, or configuring your admin profile to receive e-mail alerts, help make sure you don't miss a thing; more monitoring tips can be found here). Comments that are illegal, obscene, defamatory, profane, libelous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful or embarrassing to another person or any other person or entity or that breach confidentiality are not acceptable. Commercial activity unrelated to University business is also not acceptable. Proprietary information may not be disclosed. Content owners agree to take all reasonably possible steps to prevent and eliminate such comments and understand that it may be necessary to discontinue the use of the social media platform if such comments cannot be eliminated or prevented. This does not mean that comments which are negative about URMC should be deleted. As a Content Owner, you agree to involve URMC officers in managing negative or threatening feedback about our organization.
  • To not use URMC social media for partisan political activity. University resources, including information technology resources, are prohibited by law from being used for partisan political activities. Individuals may of course express their opinions on and be involved with partisan political activities, but they should do so as a personal activity. See the University IT policy, posted on University IT website, for more guidance on this topic.
  • To abide by URMC branding guidelines for social media.

*Social Media Practices Team members include: Nicholas Arcieri, Emily Boynton, Teri D’Agostino, Sharon Martinez, Karl Withers, Melanie Stinson, Heather Hare, Owen Zacharias, Gavin Paolucci-Kleinow, and Molly Miles.

Managing Your Platform

In addition to supplying fresh and relevant content, content owners are responsible for moderating obscene, harassing or unacceptable comments, as well as involving the appropriate authorities whenever a “sticky” comment poses a personal threat, violates any law or a URMC policy, or disparages URMC. For help managing issues related to privacy, security, legal concerns and more, please call Public Relations at (585) 275-3676.

Finally, once your account is approved, be sure your new URMC social media platform includes the following “Participant Guidelines”:

Thank you for participating with the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in social networking communities such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

We ask that you treat others with respect, even if disagreements occur. Please do not post material that could be considered an infringement on the rights of others. URMC reserves the right to delete postings, or block users, that it deems to be slanderous, obscene, soliciting, harassing, threatening, or otherwise contrary to these guidelines or UR policies.

Remember that these are public forums and whatever information you share will be viewed by others. Consider this carefully before posting detailed personal medical information. Furthermore, the information provided by URMC on these platforms is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as an endorsement, or a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

If you are an employee of URMC, please remember that all laws and URMC policies apply, including but not limited to Privacy, HIPAA, Security and Safety. We suggest that you take time to review these polices. Please consult your manager if you have questions about the appropriateness of your comment.

By participating with URMC in social networking communities, you agree to comply with these guidelines.

Having Your Platform Indexed in URMC’s Website Footer

All URMC-branded social media platforms approved by the Social Media Team will be listed on URMC’s new index pages (linked off the right-hand side of the footer section on any URMC web page).

Platforms will remain indexed this way for as long as they maintain the minimum standards (e.g., posting frequency, adherence to privacy policies, etc.) set forth in the Content Owner Agreement form. Conversely, platforms that are infrequently updated and/or poorly managed pose liability to the Medical Center, will be removed from the index, and may be asked to close down.

Additionally, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts that attract an especially robust community of fans/users – as described below – will be listed even more prominently on the index page. To qualify for this higher-profile listing, platforms must meet the following requirements:

  • Facebook: Pages with 400 or more fans (“Likes”) – or that demonstrate an exceptionally interactive community (a “Talking About Us” measure that consistently reaches 20 fans or higher) – will be listed more prominently.
  • Twitter: Accounts with 200 or more followers will be listed more prominently.

If you have any questions about your platform’s listing on URMC’s index pages, please contact your assigned Social Media Team member.