Brand & Identity

Social Media Guidelines

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine strongly encourages our Feinberg community members to engage, build networks of like-minded scholars, stay connected, share information, and help us promote the medical school's goals and vision. Social media technologies – blogs, Facebook, and Twitter – are communication tools that create opportunities for us to take part in global conversations and reach out to the broadest possible audience.

The Office of Communications provides the following guiding principles to raise awareness of current best practices and help Feinberg community members participate within social media channels in positive, meaningful ways that reflect well on them and the organization.

Review Northwestern University’s policies related to conduct for more information related to this topic.

Social Media Guiding Principles

  • Be transparent: Identify yourself. This can provide authenticity to your online contributions.
  • Be respectful: Carry the professional norms of any Feinberg office or function onto the social media platforms. Encourage feedback and two-way communication.
  • Be generous: The Internet is about connecting with links. The more you link to relevant material, the more contacts you will make and the more popular your own content will become. The process of hyperlinking and allowing others to contribute content will help you strengthen group membership.
  • Respect other’s privacy: Do not reveal other people’s private information. Avoid tagging photos with individuals’ names without approval.
  • Add value: Contribute your observations, experiences, and opinions related to topics you are passionate about and understand well; cite your sources and separate opinions from facts.
  • Aim for quality: Think about what you want to say before you post your comments. Make your content rich and interesting for others to read and share.
  • Be mindful of context: Don’t chance people taking incomplete thoughts out of context. If you can’t express your full thought in a tweet, use it the tweet to drive traffic to a blog posting where you can use as much detail as needed.
  • Use disclaimers: Make it clear that the views you are expressing are yours alone and not necessarily those of Feinberg. What you write is ultimately your responsibility. If you choose to identify yourself as a Feinberg employee or discuss topics related to the medical school through any social media channels, make it clear that you do not speak on behalf of our organization.
  • Follow copyright laws: Show proper respect for the laws governing copyright and fair use of copyrighted material owned by others. For additional information, refer to these additional resources: Copyright Basics (Northwestern University Library) and the US copyright office.
  • Let the experts respond: If you come across criticism of Feinberg or any instance that might be considered a crisis situation (e.g., a crime or accident related to a student or campus) via a social media platform, please bring it to the attention of Tom Garritano, senior executive director, Office of Communications. He will assess the situation and, when necessary, arrange for the subject matter expert respond to the post. Please do not respond on the school’s behalf.
  • Publish smart: Post to the height of your intelligence and with full knowledge that Google never forgets.
  • Feed it: Once you establish a social media presence, especially if you are doing so as a representative of Feinberg (e.g., a Department Facebook page), you need to invest time in publishing useful content and responding to user comments.

Social media is very powerful, and can have a great impact on professional and personal relationships. Your choices determine if those lasting impacts are positive of negative.

More Information

If you receive media inquiries about Feinberg or requests to arrange interviews, notify Marla Paul, health sciences editor.

If your unit is planning to utilize multiple social media platforms to share information or augment a communication campaign, the Office of Communications can advise you in developing a social media strategy. Please send your inquires to Daniela Petrovska.

The Doctor is Online:
Physician Use, Responsibility, and Opportunity in the Time of Social Media

Special thanks to Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media for sharing this great resource.

This page last updated Nov 20, 2012

Office of Communications
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Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 312-503-8194
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