Student leaders are given a great deal of responsibility and are expected to model professional behavior and conduct. Whether you are a club president, resident advisor, or student government member, your use of social media must be thought out and well planned. While many college students will post every thought or complaint that comes to mind, student leaders must consciously monitor what they post via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media avenues. Student leaders must also be cognizant that any information they post is public so supervisors, university administrators, potential employers, and many others can now view what has been posted.
With that being said, here are five smart protocols to help guide student leaders in their use of social media:
- Do not post something publicly that you would not discuss with your members – As a student leader, you represent a whole host of varied and diverse interests of those individuals that you serve. Your personal opinions may not represent the opinions of the entire group. Posting something that you would not discuss with you group could turn members against you.
- Do not use social media to undermine your advisor or university administrators – While it may not be uncommon for you to disagree with the decisions and / or opinions of your advisors or university administrators, how you handle your personal opinions is going to set you apart from others. Posting an underhanded and negative comment will most likely anger your advisor, definitely won’t win you any favors, and it could cost you the respect of those that look to you for leadership. Online cheapshots will only make you look foolish; don’t create an online crusade. Likewise, do not create a “fake” account to complain and whine anonymously. If you have something to say, do so privately or as a discussion topic during a regularly scheduled meeting. Good leaders have integrity and courage to be proactive with difficult and uncomfortable circumstances.
- Avoid posting personal and “inside jokes” – The easiest way to alienate others is by not including them in the fun. A good leader is inclusive and makes everyone feel a part of the group. Posting jokes that only a select few individuals can appreciate and understand on organization-related pages undermines your ability to create and maintain team cohesion.
- Respect confidentiality – As a student leader, you will most certainly be trusted with information related to finances, upcoming decisions and announcements, and personal data. Other students are not privy to this information, and it is important that you keep it to yourself and not post it using social media. You should also use special care when chatting online or through text when it relates to sensitive information, because you may not always be communicating with the person you think you are. One mistake can have far-reaching consequences. And as a general rule of thumb, do not discuss confidential information online.
- When in doubt, ask your advisor – If you have a question or concern related to posting information online, have a discussion with your advisor or supervisor. Seek clarification and understanding before proceeding forward because it is always better to be safe than sorry.
What are some other protocols and / or practices that you utilize on your campus related to student leaders using social media? Please share your comments below.