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Social media policy

  1. Introduction 


a. What is social media? 

Social media is the term given to web-based tools and applications which enable users to create and share content (words, images and video content), and network with each other through the sharing of information, opinions, knowledge and common interests. Examples of social media include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. 


b. Why do we use social media? 

Social media is essential to the success of communicating Sunnybank’s work. It is important for some staff to participate in social media to engage with our audience, participate in relevant conversations and raise the profile of Sunnybank. 


c. Why do we need a social media policy? 

The difference between a personal and professional opinion can be blurred on social media, particularly if you're discussing issues relating to Sunnybank's work. While we encourage the use of social media, we have certain standards, outlined in this policy, which we require everyone to observe. Publication and commentary on social media carries similar obligations to any other kind of publication or commentary in the public domain. 


This policy is intended for all staff members, volunteers and trustees, and applies to content posted on both a Sunnybank device and a personal device. ‘The Sunnybank staying safe online’ guideline should also be referred to by the more vulnerable members of the charity who may become vulnerable with online activity. 


d. Setting out the social media policy 

This policy sets out guidelines on how social media should be used to support the delivery and promotion of Sunnybank and the use of social media by staff in both a professional and personal capacity. It sets out what you need to be aware of when interacting in these spaces and is designed to help staff support and expand our official social media channels, while protecting the charity and its reputation and preventing any legal issues. 


Before engaging in work-related social media activity, all staff and volunteers must read this policy.  

e. Point of contact for social media 

The responsibility for the day-to-day publishing, monitoring and management of our social media channels is with the Communications Coordinator and the Chief Executive.  All content that is posted on Sunnybank’s official channels of social media have to be authorised by either the Communications Coordinator or the Chief Executive. Any enquiries for further information or clarity need to be directed to the Communications Coordinator or the Chief Executive.  


f. Which social media channels do we use? 

Sunnybank uses the following social media channels: 


  • Twitter (SunnybankEpsom) 

  • Facebook (The Sunnybank Trust) 

  • Instagram (sunnybanktrust) 

  • Youtube (Sunnybank Trust) 

  • LinkedIn (The Sunnybank Trust) 


    2. Guidelines 


Using Sunnybank's social media channels — appropriate conduct. 

a. Through our use of social media we aim to: - 

  • Be responsible: The Communications Coordinator and Chief Executive are responsible for the day-to-day running of the social media channels. Only those authorised to do so by the Chief Executive and/or Communications Coordinator will have access to these accounts. This will be supported by a member of the trustee board where necessary. 

  • Engage and communicate: We aim to be active across all social media channels every day (with the exception of Youtube and LinkedIn which are updated as and when necessary). We aim to respond to all queries received via our social media channels within 24 hours. 

  • Be an ambassador for our brand: Staff should ensure they reflect Sunnybank values in what they post. 

  • Be clear of the purpose and benefit: Make sure that all social media content has a purpose and a benefit for Sunnybank, and accurately reflects Sunnybank's agreed position. 

  • Bring value to our audience: Answer their questions, help and engage with them. 

  • Take care with the presentation of content:  Make sure that there are no typos, misspellings or grammatical errors. Also check the quality of images. 


Always pause and think before posting.  



b. If someone from outside of Sunnybank wishes to contribute content for social media, whether non-paid for or paid for (e.g. sponsorships), this has to be authorised by the Communications Coordinator and if required the Chief Executive. 


c. Consent must be sought if potential content about an individual (member, volunteer, member of staff) is to be posted.  This includes interviews, videos, photos or case stories. 


d. Upon consent, the identity of the individual must be protected either by agreeing to use first name only or a replacement name. Consent on identity must be sought before the item is posted with the individual and the Communications Coordinator or Chief Executive. 


e. Always check facts. Staff should not automatically assume that material is accurate and should take reasonable steps where necessary to seek verification. 


f. Be honest. Say what you know to be true or have a good source for. If you've made a mistake, don't be afraid to admit it. 


g. Staff should refrain from offering personal opinions via Sunnybank's social media accounts, either directly by commenting or indirectly by 'liking', 'sharing' or 'retweeting'. If you are in doubt about Sunnybank's position on a particular issue, please speak to the Communications Coordinator or the Chief Executive. 


h. It is vital that Sunnybank does not encourage others to risk their personal safety or that of others, to gather materials. For example, a video of a stunt.  


i. Staff should not encourage people to break the law to supply material for social media, such as using unauthorised video footage. All relevant rights for usage must be obtained before publishing material. 


j. The Sunnybank official social media accounts ensure consistency of message and branding. Therefore staff should not set up other Facebook groups or pages, Twitter accounts or any other social media channels on behalf of Sunnybank.  All new social media accounts are to be agreed with the Chief Executive and the board of trustees. 



​k. Sunnybank is not a political organisation and does not hold a view on party politics or have any affiliation with or links to political parties. We have every right to express views on policy, including the policies of parties, but we can't tell people how to vote. 


l. If a complaint is made on Sunnybank's social media channels, staff should seek advice from the Chief Executive and/or the Communications Coordinator. 


m. Sometimes issues can arise on social media which can escalate into a crisis situation because they are sensitive or risk serious damage to the charity's reputation or partners. The nature of social media means that complaints are visible and can escalate quickly. Not acting can be detrimental to the charity or service users.  


n. All social media channels are regularly monitored by the Communications Coordinator, and the Chief Executive. If staff become aware of any comments online that they think have the potential to escalate into a crisis, whether on Sunnybank's social media channels or elsewhere, they should speak immediately with the Communications Coordinator or in a case of an emergency the Chief Executive.  


    3. Use of personal social media accounts — appropriate conduct 


This policy does not intend to inhibit personal use of social media but instead flags up those areas in which conflicts might arise. Staff are expected to behave appropriately, and in ways that are consistent with Sunnybank's values and policies, both online and in real life. 

a. Be aware that any information you make public could affect how people perceive the charity. You must make it clear when you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of Sunnybank. If you are using your personal social media accounts to promote and talk about our work, you must use the  disclaimer:  


"The views expressed on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent Sunnybank's positions, policies or opinions." 


b. Staff who have a personal blog or website which indicates in any way that they work at Sunnybank should discuss any potential conflicts of interest with the Chief Executive.  


c. Those in specialist roles where they are well known in their field of expertise, must take particular care as personal views published may be misunderstood as expressing Sunnybank's view. 


d. Use common sense and good judgement. Be aware of your association with Sunnybank and ensure your profile and related content is consistent with how you wish to present yourself to the general public, colleagues, trustees and funders. 

All approaches to high profile people or organisations on behalf of Sunnybank should be cleared with the Chief Executive.  If you have any information about high profile people or organisations that have a connection to our cause, or if there is someone who you would like to support the charity, please speak to the Chief Executive or Communications Coordinator to share the details. 


The approach should: 

  • Use an official Sunnybank channel or email address and not a personal account. 

  • Not use personal retweets on behalf of Sunnybank - that could confuse the identity and future relationship with Sunnybank as the corporate identity. 

    If a staff member is contacted by the press about their social media posts that relate to Sunnybank, a response needs to be discussed and agreed with the Communications Coordinator and/or Chief Executive. 


f. Sunnybank is not a political organisation and does not hold a view on party politics or have any affiliation with or links to political parties. When representing Sunnybank, staff are expected to hold a position of neutrality. Staff who are politically active in their spare time need to be clear in separating their personal political identity from Sunnybank, and understand and avoid potential conflicts of interest. 


g. Approval is required before the use of any part of the Sunnybank identity including the Sunnybank logos or trademarks. Approval is required from the Communications Coordinator or Chief Executive. 


h. Always protect yourself and the charity. Be careful with your privacy online and be cautious when sharing personal information. What you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so do consider the content carefully.  


i. Think about your reputation as well as the charity’s. Express your opinions and deal with differences of opinion respectfully. Don't insult people or treat them badly. Passionate discussions and debates are fine, but you should always be respectful of others and their opinions. Be polite and the first to correct your own mistakes. 


j. We encourage staff to share tweets and posts that we have issued. When online in a personal capacity, you might also see opportunities to comment on or support Sunnybank. Where appropriate and using the guidelines within this policy, we encourage staff to do this as it provides a human voice and raises our profile. However, if the content is controversial or misrepresented, please highlight this to the Communications Officer and the Chief Executive.  



Further guidelines 



Libel is when a false written statement that is damaging to a person's reputation is published online or in print. Whether staff are posting content on social media as part of their job or in a personal capacity, they should not bring Sunnybank into disrepute by making defamatory comments about individuals or other organisations or groups. 


Copyright law 

It is critical that all staff abide by the laws governing copyright. Never use or adapt someone else's images or written content without permission. Failing to acknowledge the source/author/resource citation, where permission has been given to reproduce content, is also considered a breach of copyright. 



Any communications that staff make in a personal capacity must not breach confidentiality. For example, information meant for internal use only or information that Sunnybank is not ready to disclose yet.  


Discrimination and harassment 

Staff should not post content that could be considered discriminatory against, or bullying or harassment of, any individual, on either a Sunnybank social media channel or a personal account.  


Use of social media in the recruitment process 

There should be no checking of candidate's online social media activities during the recruitment process, as conducting these searches might lead to a presumption that an applicant's protected characteristics, such as religious beliefs or sexual orientation, played a part in a recruitment decision.  


Protection and intervention 

The responsibility for measures of protection and intervention lies first with the social networking site itself. Different social networking sites offer different models of interventions in different areas. For more information, refer to the guidance available on the social networking site itself. However, if a staff member considers that a person is at risk of harm, they should report this to the Safeguarding Officer (Chief Executive) or the Deputy Safeguarding officer (Advocacy Manager) immediately. 

Vulnerable people 

Vulnerable people face risks when using social networking sites. They may be at risk of being bullied, publishing sensitive and personal information on their profiles, or from becoming targets for online grooming or abuse.  


Where known, when communicating with vulnerable people via social media, staff should ensure they follow the same rules as the offline 'real-life' relationship.  


Unknowingly sharing personal information 

It is important to be aware of the personal information that may be shared unknowingly when downloading apps to your mobile phone. Apps such as ‘find my phone’ can present a security risk, allowing others to access personal data such as your location. 


Responsibilities and breach of policy 

Everyone is responsible for their own compliance with this policy. For staff, breaches of policy may incur disciplinary action, depending on the severity of the issue. If unsure whether something proposed for social media might breach this policy, advice should be sought from the Communications Coordinator or Chief Executive.  

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