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November 21, 2014

Do You Use a Social Media Moderator Agreement?

By Cynthia Floyd Manley

vhealth-4c-blk873When Vanderbilt University Medical Center adopted its social media policy back in 2009, we didn’t want to squash interest in social media participation.

That said, participating in social media on behalf of an organization like ours isn't (all) fun and games. We wanted to make sure those who do so take the responsibility seriously. A key component of our policy is a “Social Media Content Owner/Moderator Agreement.”

This agreement must be completed every year by any faculty or staff member who manages a social media account on behalf of VUMC or one of its hospitals, departments, clinics or other unit. Those who complete and sign it, agree that:

  • they have read and agree to comply with the social media policy.
  • they will post fresh content at least weekly. More frequent posting is recommended as a matter of best industry practice.
  • the platform be used for topics relevant to the mission of our medical center.
  • comments will be moderated.  Also outlined are types of comments that will not be allowed.
  • a link to our social media participation guidelines will be posted on all external social media sites.
  • internal social media sites will include a written reminder to faculty and staff that all laws and VUMC policies apply.

The agreement also lists who should be notified if comments are threatening to one’s self or others, or violate laws or VUMC policies. This list ranges from the chief of our police department to the privacy officer.

Over the years, we've added the requirement of  account sign-on info. So far we have not needed this for emergency intervention but we did need it when a moderator left Vanderbilt and we needed access.

We renew this form each December for the coming calendar year. The process provides an opportunity not only to remind moderators about responsibilities, but also to encourage them to review their strategies and their sites' performance as an effective use of VUMC resources.

Ours is not a perfect tool. We know we cannot be aware of every site that may have been set up in VUMC’s name. This component of our policy is, however, a place to start.

I hope this information is helpful, and would love to hear how you manage social media activity by others in your organization.

Here's our Online Social Media Toolkit.

Cynthia Floyd Manley serves on the External Advisory Board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. Vanderbilt University Medical Center is a member of the Social Media Health Network.

Tags: Employee Communications, Strategy, Tactics & Best Practices

Liked by Kerry Burke, Danielle Thompson, Meg Fairweather, Jan Powell


Janet Kennedy

Posts: 273
Joined: Feb 12, 2014
Posted by @jkennedy93, Nov 21, 2014

I like the promise to post once a week. It must make people think twice before committing to something that they may not be able to follow through on.

Danielle Thompson

Posts: 88
Joined: Jan 09, 2014
Posted by @DanielleThompson, Dec 1, 2014

Great toolkit, thanks so much for sharing! Is your Consultation Form also the Moderator Terms & Agreement Form that you require annually? Looks like that is where the link is going. I’m really interested as this is relevant to a current project I’m working on. I appreciate your tips.

Cynthia Floyd Manley

Posts: 78
Joined: Mar 09, 2011
Posted by @cynthiamanley, Dec 1, 2014

Great catch. I need to fix the way that link is described. We do not put the moderator form on the toolkit, although now that I think about it, I don’t know why not.

We used to have an “application” for a VUMC social media account on the toolkit. However, that language seemed to create an expectation that they apply and they get an account, without regard to whether it makes sense. The consultation language has helped (a little) with managing expectations going into the discussion. Glad this was helpful!

Danielle Thompson

Posts: 88
Joined: Jan 09, 2014
Posted by @DanielleThompson, Dec 1, 2014

Would love to peek at the moderator form. I’m working with the admin of our Intensive Care Nursery’s secret Facebook Group to set up some additional guidelines and hope to have FB Group co-moderator role included in the ICN Parent Council Co-Chair description they are currently updating. So this would be great timing. If not online yet, would it be possible to share by email? I’m at – thanks!

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