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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Getting Started with Social Media: A Guide for Nonprofit Organizations and Government Agencies: Creating an Acceptable Use Policy

Guide to resources and information about making a case for social media and developing a plan for which tools to use.

For Further Reading

Determine Whether Your Organization Needs a Policy

Organizations need to have a conversation about social media and its implications. Social media doesn't usually create new behaviors. It amplifies existing ones. If you have policies governing the following, you may not need a social media policy

  • Confidentiality of information
  • Appropriate Behavior - Interpersonal Conflict, Harassment
  • Who acts as a spokesperson on behalf of the organization
  • Protection of personal information
  • Internet Use Policy
  • Approvals on Web communications
  • Use of logo or representation of brand by outside stakeholders
  • Intellectual property rights and other legal issues

Some other questions to ask:

  • If the lines between your organizational/personal presence are squishy,  what is appropriate conduct? 
  • Does your organization need something more formal than "using common sense?
  •  As the organization's leader and if you aren't comfortable or have first-hand experience with social media, how do you trust your staff?

Crafting an Appropriate Use Policy

Consider the following when crafting an acceptable use policy:

  • Build on your existing public communications/media policy
  • Look at examples from other similar organizations (Online Database of Social Media Policies)
  • Consider whether the policy applies to volunteers as well as paid staff