Guidelines for social media use

The following social media guidelines have been reviewed and approved by all academic and administrative leadership at the University of Colorado Denver, March 2018.

Social media and the University of Colorado Denver

Social media is "any tool or service that uses the Internet to facilitate conversations."1 When used appropriately and strategically, social media allows people to connect in productive two-way conversations and creates unique online communities of engagement and information exchange. Although specific social media tools will evolve, current social media platforms include email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, Ping, LinkedIn and blogs. All university employees are expected to be familiar with and behave in accordance with CU Denver and CU System Social Media Guidelines.

The following guidelines serve as a resource to help you maximize the benefits of social media for professional and educational experiences without compromising academic, professional or university integrity.

Thinking about starting social media accounts If you’re interested in launching social media accounts please contact University Communications. We’ll provide you a consultation and recommend the best course of action for your university department, program or center.

You do have the ability to submit your content to University Communications in lieu of starting your own social accounts. This is often the best choice for many interested in better communication with the campus community.

When experiencing a social media crisis situation University Communications will assist with social media accounts and take steps to mitigate damage to the university brand when appropriate. This includes all school/college accounts across the CU Denver campus. The department will be granted access to those accounts in advance to allow quick assistance during a crisis. Schools and colleges should contact University Communications to establish access.

If you’re located deeper within the university community (e.g. program, department, center, etc.,) and you’d like to request the resources of University Communications during a brand crisis, immediately contact the digital engagement team within the department. Contact information can be found on the University Communications website. 

Basic standards


  • Have authorization to post on your department’s behalf
  • Follow all university policies
  • Protect confidential and proprietary information
  • Respect copyright and fair use
  • Ensure the security of your social media account
  • Be transparent
  • Be respectful and thoughtful
  • Be consistent and timely
  • Strive for accuracy
  • Refer to the University Communications website for proper social media branding and naming conventions
  • Prominently list the university on the social media site and not only the name of the department
  • Avoid punctuation such as periods and underscores (_) when naming the account
  • Make sure your privacy settings appropriately safeguard against inappropriate viewing and sharing
  • Be aware that your affiliation with a specific program, department or center is public knowledge whether you disclose it or not. Even personal social media posts can be inappropriately associated with the university.


  • Post private, restricted or sensitive information
  • Post pictures of patients, parts of patients, names of patients, or any likeness of a patient (e.g. name, a medical record number, screenshots of EMR), even if they give you express permission
  • Post an unprofessional comment regarding a colleague, including a student, nurse, resident, faculty, consultant, another hospital, educator, or administrator, or anything that could be taken out of context and damaging to the university’s reputation
  • Engage in arguments or negative dialogue when someone disagrees with your post
  • Represent your personal views as those of the university
  • Use the stand-alone logo of the university as your sole image
  • Use images that are too small to easily recognize in a browser or on mobile devices
  • Design your own department logo that is not recognizable as being affiliated with the University of Colorado – Contact University Communications for assistance and approval of all marks
  • Use the university logo or any other university images or iconography on personal social media sites
  • Post anything discussed in settings where privacy or confidentiality is expected (e.g. private meetings)
  • Discuss a situation involving named or pictured individuals on social media. As a guideline, do not post anything that you would not present in any public forum
  • Assume anything electronic is private:  social media communications related to university business may be considered public and obtained by request under Colorado Open Records Act

General guidelines for social media use

One unique and valued aspect of social media is its virtual community. To be a valued member of the social media community, you should strive to offer valuable information, listen before engaging, and use respect when discussing differences. The following guidelines can enhance your experience as a social media community member.

Exhibit respect for community members: To be a valued member of the online community, you should exhibit respect for fellow community members. Differences in opinion can result in valuable conversation, which can lead to learning. To create an environment that fosters productive and mutually-beneficial conversation, strictly avoid obscene, threatening, defamatory, illegal or any conduct that violates university behavioral policies. Additionally, show proper consideration for others' privacy, and maintain a high level of respect for others when engaging in topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory, such as politics and religion. Think before you post, and consider the effect your comments might have on other members of your community. Whether you are representing the university or your personal being, respectful engagement will elevate your online experience and add value to the conversation.

Engage in productive two-way conversation: Because the purpose of social media is to engage in conversation with others through technology, you can think of this as a two-way process of sharing information and listening. The more valuable your information, the more likely people are to listen to what you have to say; the more you listen to others, the better you will understand what the community views as valuable information. Be sure to monitor your social media tool on a regular basis and respond to community members regularly. Additionally, link back to sites and posts provided by your community members to reinforce conversation and involvement.  You are more likely to achieve your goals or sway others to your beliefs if you are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person.

Maintain transparency and authenticity: Maintain a high level of transparency and authenticity in your online interactions with others. Avoid hiding your identity. Not only does obscuring your identity negate the value of social media as a community-building tool , it's also nearly impossible to be truly anonymous when using social media due to tracking devices. Always identify yourself, including your name, and when relevant, your role at the university. If you discuss university-related matters, you should disclose your association with the university. Always write in the first person and make it clear when you are speaking for yourself, rather than on behalf of the institution. Many bloggers will include a disclaimer on their sites, such as "The content of this blog is based on personal opinions and does not reflect the opinions of the University of Colorado." Ensure your profile and related content are consistent with how you wish to present yourself to colleagues. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as a CU staff member, and for example, and sign an electronic petition with your university affiliation. However, please make a disclaimer that you are sharing your personal views and are not speaking as a formal representative of CU, for example, “Opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of [your name]. Content published here does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of CU Denver.”

Post accurate information: All posts and social media interactions should reflect accurate information. Always cite your sources and give credit where it is due. A benefit of social media is the ability to provide links to support your posts. You are responsible 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 copyright infringement, defamatory, proprietary, libelous, or obscene (as defined by the courts). Increasingly, employers are conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending offers.

Adopt a code of ethics: When building a social media site, consider adopting a code of ethics. When developing a community, a code of ethics will let community members know what will and will not be acceptable behavior to exhibit while engaging your community. Do no harm: Let your internet social networking do no harm to the university, the Department, the undergraduate or residency program, patients, or to yourself, whether you are navigating those networks on or off work hours.

Be aware that social media content is not private: Privacy does not exist in social media, so take precautions. Read all privacy agreements posted by social media sites before engaging in social media use. There may be important information in these agreements indicating how your information can be used.  There is no such thing as a “private” social media site: search engines can turn up posts and pictures years after the publication date. Comments can be forwarded or copied. Material posted online can be cut, copied, pasted and saved by members of the online community and in some cases, is used by companies for marketing purposes. 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. Post only pictures that you would be comfortable sharing with the general public (current and future peers, employers, etc.). Be aware that your affiliation with external partner hospitals and department within the University of Colorado are public knowledge whether you disclose it or not. Even personal social media posts can be inappropriately associated with your department and the university. Faculty, staff and trainees are personally responsible for the content they publish on blogs, wikis, or any other form of user-generated content.

Manage your professional electronic footprint 

Make sure it passes the “Sunday morning paper” test: Would you be content with your comments (and your name) being on the front page of the Sunday paper? If not, think twice before posting. Likewise, if the content of your message would not be acceptable for face-to-face conversation, over the telephone, or in another medium, then it is also not acceptable for a social networking site.  Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable to the CU community. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered sensitive. All communications should meet professional standards and remain consistent with university and hospital value behaviors and includes, but is not limited to, comments that may be offensive based on age, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, disability, or veteran's status.

When to use social media: Don’t let social media interfere with your duties as a part of the University of Colorado in any capacity.

1 Solis, B. "Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web" Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ: 2010, 37.

2 Department of the Army, Madigan Healthcare System, Subject: Commander’s Policy #61: Staff Use of Social Media and other Internet Sites.

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