It is the quickest means of keeping up to date with current discussions, influencers and phenomena. By communicating and influencing on social media, we can all promote a worldview based on science.
As employees of the University of Helsinki, we observe the University’s values on social media: truth, Bildung, freedom and community. On social media, we act in a smart, ethical and respectful manner.
The University’s guidelines for social media help establish its digital footprint in a safe and responsible manner. They include instructions, recommendations and information on
In which topics do you have expertise that you would like to communicate and discuss on social media?
We, the employees of the University of Helsinki, serve as experts in a number of roles: as teachers, researchers, influencers and also as specialists in our own field. In all these roles, social media is a useful channel for influencing and networking.
On social media, you can promote the accessibility of research and teaching, share and comment on research findings as well as themes related to teaching and learning, or expand the audiences of science and teaching. On social media, you can, among other activities, act as an expert influencer, develop yourself professionally, network with communities in your field and carry out recruitment. You can become a media outlet yourself, as your group of followers grows.
Identifying the topics important to you, your audience and network as well as your goals in general helps you find the social media channels and groups most relevant to you. To get started, answer the following questions: what, why, to whom and how? Twitter is a channel suited to many experts, while others prefer YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or, say, the more traditional custom of blogging.
In addition to experts in your field, network with those you hope will become interested in the content you are sharing. A social media presence has a significant effect on, for example, how well media outlets and decision-makers acknowledge University researchers and experts.
Social media is based on interaction, so be prepared to listen and participate in discussions. Most discussions on social media are appropriate and positive interaction, but you may also encounter sharp comments and critical views of your work or research topics.
Try to contribute to the discussion from a respectful expert perspective and, as a researcher, on the basis of research. Keep opinions separate from research-based knowledge. Not all discussions have to be won or kept going. Clearly provocative or factually hollow comments can be ignored.
Goal-oriented social media communication requires monitoring, planning your contributions in advance and time for taking part in the discussion. On the other hand, you need not be constantly online.
The University of Helsinki is an institution that is a popular topic of discussion on social media, in addition to which comments are regularly made on behalf of the University. It is in the interest of us all that as members of the University community we promote a worldview that values science, education and skills, using our voice for the benefit of the University of Helsinki.
Your actions on social media have an effect on how you are perceived as an expert and what kind of notion people have of the University of Helsinki as a work community. Even though you are personally responsible for your actions, be prepared to have your activities linked with your professional role. This is why it is extremely difficult to keep professional and personal roles completely separate from each other when using social media.
Consider how you are expressing your opinions. Talk about the University and its community on social media in accordance with good manners – online discussions are always public. Respect your colleagues and the entire community, including students. When offering a critique, do it in a constructive manner. Above all, adhering to good manners is in your own interest.
Remember that you are responsible for what you say on social media, too – and that things said and done outside it may also end up there. If you realise you have made a mistake, try to remedy it immediately. Apologise or publish a correction.
Please do not post any non-public information on social media, including confidential agreements, commercialisation projects in the preparatory stage, personal data related to employment affairs or matters that are still pending.
Not all public information need be posted on social media either. Pay particular attention to information concerning individuals. Although applications for jobs and study places are public once received by the University, no application documents or related information can be published on social media without the consent of the person in question. If, in the process of carrying out your professional duties, you learn about the characteristics, personal circumstances or financial position of another person, remember that disclosing such information to third parties without legal grounds is a punishable offence.
If your colleagues or partners do not wish you to post their photos or information on them on social media, please respect their wishes. Also consider carefully what personal details related to yourself you make public. It is not appropriate to comment on work-related matters pertaining to individual employees or students on social media even in the case of a person sharing confidential information about themselves. If commenting is deemed necessary, it must be on a general level, for example, by explaining University practices.
Only publish material for which you own the copyright or that is not protected by copyright. Do not share or link to material that appears to be illegally published (e.g., websites that illegally publish scientific articles free of charge).
Familiarise yourself with copyright legislation and the principles of data protection:
Examples of harassment on social media:
Critical discussion is part of everyday life on social media, but if you become a target of personal harassment or threats, or harassment or threats targeted at your work community, do not isolate yourself. Help is available for difficult situations or in cases where you receive inappropriate criticism or you suspect you have been deceived or attacked.
If the case takes place at the workplace, is targeted at your work or endangers or impairs occupational safety, you have the right to get help from your employer. Do not hesitate to ask for help – contact details for University Services are located in the next section of these guidelines.
Remember to never yourself harass anyone on social media. Social media harassment can have consequences from the direction of both the employer and authorities. If you become a target of social media harassment, ask for help in one of the ways described below (contact details in the "This is how the University helps you on social media" part of this page) and do not respond to attacks with attacks.
The visibility and altmetrics services provided by Helsinki University Library illustrate the distribution, reception and use of publications online – also on social media.
Choose the topics you wish to communicate on. Consider how and with whom you wish to communicate to find a suitable channel and approach.
Explore social media channels and their cultures of interaction. By choosing a handful of accounts or individuals to follow, you gain ideas about the different ways people use to communicate through these channels. Already at this point, you should think about how personal you would like your style to be.
Experts will most likely find most of their target audiences on Twitter or LinkedIn. On Facebook, groups may be the best way to communicate with experts. If you prefer visual communication, Instagram may suit you best. If presentations are your forte, pick YouTube. Writing-oriented experts could write a blog. You can create new Wikipedia pages on people or topics, or contribute to updating existing content.
If you communicate through your personal account, add an ‘elevator pitch’, or a personal description of yourself, to your profile. In addition to introducing yourself and your work, also describe what makes your work or ideas special and provides additional value to your followers.
Alongside a personal social medial account, you can be active as a community member, a setting familiar to many researchers who are also or solely active on social media on behalf of a research group or project.
Your goals may involve being an expert in a certain topic, or finding and sharing new ideas. The analytics data included in your social media channel helps monitor and set targets for your audience and the impact of your messages.
Link your social media activity to your other personal communications and those topical discussions to which you wish to contribute your expertise. Identify and choose topics in which you have expertise and which you wish to communicate about and discuss on social media. Communication and public engagement take time, so make social media communication part of your communication and work plan.
Social media helps you maintain and strengthen your networks. By conducting a network analysis, you can identify your personal network and target your communication at the key operators or individuals in it.
The University of Helsinki is an active communicator on social media services. Start following the social media accounts of the University or your faculty. Keep up with the University’s hashtags and use them so that the University can react to your messages. Your visibility as an expert will grow and you will gain new followers.
Social media is part of communication, and communication is an important element of leadership. The University encourages supervisors to also network on social media. Your stakeholders are most likely using social media. Think about what you might be missing out on if you are not part of the social media networks in your field, or unaware of the discussions taking place there.
Those working as supervisors at the University are easily seen as always representing the University and also acting in their professional role on social media – often even if you yourself don’t think you are posting something in your professional role. This is why your social media activities strongly impact the views your stakeholders have about the University.
Work communities should discuss the use of social media as a professional tool. Consider together what benefits social media can offer for achieving the goals of your team, as well as what your target audiences and topics of communication are.
With the exception of communications staff, supervisors cannot oblige their employees to use social media. Its use is voluntary. Goal-oriented communication on social media takes time, which is why it must not become an extra task on top of all other work duties. Supervisors must see to it that time is allocated for this in the employee’s job description.
Due to reasons of accessibility, equality and data protection, among other things, internal communication cannot be concentrated on social media. Instead, many people on social media are interested in discussions on topics related to work communities. The internal communication of the work community is carried out through the University’s dedicated services, such as Flamma, Teams, Yammer and email.
At the University of Helsinki, there are no separate employment contracts for researchers and teachers. Whichever role you are acting in, please keep in mind the obligations relevant to the other role. Even if you consider yourself solely a researcher on social media, students perceive you as a teacher as well. Displaying your human side on social media is received positively. Remember that being human does not necessarily mean speaking about your private affairs.