Social Media/Networking Guidelines
Purpose of social media/networking and this policy
Friends for Youth encourages staff, Board members, volunteer Senior Friends and Junior Friends, and other
supporters to be champions on behalf of the organization by spreading the word about the importance of
changing lives through the power of mentoring. We recognize that our greatest tool in recruiting new
volunteers and attracting new supporters and donors is through word of mouth.
Social Media Sites
The rapid growth of communication through social media is emerging as opportunities for outreach,
information‐sharing, and advocacy. Used responsibly, they provide an effective way to stay connected to and
expand our community, be informed of new trends and topics, and share information and perspectives. These
sites include, but are not limited to
• Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace;
• News sharing and bookmarking sites like delicious and Digg;
• Photo‐ and video‐sharing sites like ﬂickr and YouTube; and
• Other forms of posting personal online content like web sites, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, chat rooms, forums
Public and Private Boundaries
These tools have also blurred the line between private and public activity; it is more important than ever that
Friends for Youth advocates who choose to tell their story online understand what is recommended,
expected, and required. Information from your Facebook page, your blog entries, and your tweets ‐ even if
you intend them to be personal messages to your friends or family ‐ can be easily circulated beyond your
intended audience. This content, therefore, represents you and Friends for Youth to the outside world as
much as an advertisement or traditional media coverage does. Given the reach of the Internet, it’s important
that when you use these various media, you follow some basic procedures that protect the privacy and
confidentiality of our Junior Friends and their families, as well as maintain our identity as a high‐quality
nonprofit organization. These policies apply to Friends for Youth staff when they participate in social media
for work, but it should also be considered if personal blog activities may give the appearance of speaking for
Friends for Youth. Adhering to the following points in either situation will provide protection for you, our
Junior Friends, and Friends for Youth.
Goals for Using Social Media
Friends for Youth encourages staff, Board members, volunteer Senior Friends and Junior Friends, and other
supporters to use the Internet to share their perspectives about our organization, our services, and our work.
Our goals are
• To connect with youth‐in‐need and adult volunteers by providing youth mentoring opportunities;
• To encourage support of Friends for Youth’s services and programs; and
• To share the expertise of Friends for Youth’s staff and volunteer Senior Friends and Junior Friends.
Whether or not a Friends for Youth staff member, Board member, volunteer Senior Friend or Junior Friend, or
other supporter chooses to create or participate in a blog or online community on personal time is his or her
own decision. However, it is in Friends for Youth’s interest that staff, Board members, volunteer Senior
Friends and Junior Friends, and other supporters understand the responsibilities in discussing Friends for
Youth in online communities. We strongly emphasize the importance of understanding and following
guidelines as listed below to all who participate in social media on behalf of Friends for Youth. These
guidelines will continually evolve as new technologies and social networking tools emerge.
Support for Using Social Media
Friends for Youth does not intend to “police” the online community; on the contrary, we want to aggregate all
the powerful stories Friends for Youth advocates are telling and showcase your individual contribution to the
overall mission. These guidelines are intended to help you live the social values of and represent Friends for
Youth professionally by sharing your thoughts and using your personality and own voice. We encourage you
to embrace social media by providing you some guidelines without attempting to stifle your social voice.
Be responsible for what you write
Be fair, ethical, accurate, and honest. Do nothing that could in any way damage or invade the privacy of our
Junior Friends and their families, undermine your credibility with the public, damage Friends for Youth’s
standing as an excellent nonprofit, or otherwise jeopardize Friends for Youth’s reputation.
Always pause and think before posting. What you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long
time, so consider the content carefully. That said, reply to comments in a timely manner, when a response is
appropriate. When disagreeing with others' opinions, keep it appropriate and polite.
Acknowledge and correct mistakes promptly. When corrections are made, preserve the original post,
showing by strikethrough what corrections have been made, to maintain integrity.
While participating as an authorized Friends for Youth spokesperson, you represent Friends for
Youth at all times. If you are an employee, the rules for conduct in the Friends for Youth Employee
Handbook apply to you in the social world, too. Represent yourself with your name and title. If you are not an
employee, represent your association to Friends for Youth accurately.
All forms of online dialogue are individual interactions unless posted by authorized Friends for Youth
personnel. Friends for Youth staff, Board members, volunteer Senior Friends and Junior Friends, and other
supporters are personally responsible for their posts. If you reference or discuss youth mentoring or other
topics related to Friends for Youth, be upfront and explain your association to Friends for Youth; however, if
you aren’t an official company representative, add a disclaimer to the effect: “The opinions and positions
expressed are my own and don’t necessarily reﬂect those of Friends for Youth” or “This is a personal weblog;
the opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.” If you are mixing your
professional and personal life, exercise discretion. If you are unsure, ask yourself, “If I mention something
about Friends for Youth, would I be comfortable with a Junior Friend or his/her family, volunteer, or
supporter seeing what I wrote? Would I be comfortable having a media source reproduce my
tweet/post/blog and attribute it to me?”
Write what you know. Make sure you write and post about your areas of expertise, especially as related to
Friends for Youth. You have a unique perspective on our organization based on your talents, skills and
current responsibilities. If you’re interesting and authentic, you’ll attract readers who understand your
specialty and interests.
Be yourself – and be transparent. If you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, be the first
to point it out.
Be sure you won’t alienate any groups of readers. They may include current and past Junior Friends and
their families, volunteers, and supporters, potential volunteers and supporters, as well as current/past/future
Be sensitive about linking to content. Redirecting to another site may imply an endorsement of its content.
Do link to content that is contextually relevant; an article about youth mentoring in general supports our
mission, but an article about another program may direct someone away from our programs and services.
Exercise good judgment and common sense
Post meaningful and respectful comments. Accepted social etiquette applies. Do not post material that is
harassing, obscene, defamatory, libelous, threatening, hateful, or embarrassing to any person or entity. Do not
post words, jokes, or comments based on an individual’s gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age, or
religion. Posting pornography is forbidden.
If you are unsure about the nature of your post, check with a staff member or representative of
Friends for Youth.
Delete spam and/or comments that are offtopic or inappropriate. Authenticate your followers or fans
on a regular basis – social networking is flooded with spammers looking for followers to build their presence.
Use professional language and grammar; check spelling prior to posting.
Understand that Friends for Youth can and will monitor social media and social networking web sites
to protect our program’s participants and assure the integrity of our agency’s online identity.
Be respectful and professional to fellow volunteers, employees, business partners, competitors and
clients. Avoid using unprofessional or inappropriate online personas.
Appreciate concept of community
Community is a platform where your supporters or volunteers feel comfortable sharing, connecting,
and receiving help. It exists so that you can support others and they, in turn, can support you.
When confronted with a difference of opinion, stay calm, express your points clearly and logically, and
correct mistakes when needed. One of the aims of social media is to create dialogue, and people won’t
always agree on an issue. Avoid personal attacks, online fights, and hostile personalities. Sometimes, it’s best
to ignore a comment and not give it credibility by acknowledging it with a response.
Include links – find out who else is blogging or posting about the same topic and cite them with a link
or make a post on their blog when it is appropriate. Links are what determine a blog’s popularity rating
on blog search engines like Technorati. It’s also a way of connecting to the bigger conversation and reaching
out to new audiences.
Respect brand, trademark, copyright, and fair use laws
For your protection, do not post any material that is copyrighted unless (a) you are the copyright owner,
(b) you have written permission of the copyright owner to post the copyrighted material on your blog, or (c)
you are sure that the use of any copyrighted material is permitted by the legal doctrine of “fair use.”
Protect privacy, confidentiality, and proprietary info
Recognize that everything you write or receive on a social media site is public. Anyone with access to
the web can get access to your activity on social media sites. And regardless of how careful you are in trying
to keep them separate, in your online activity, your professional life and your personal life overlap.
Respect and maintain the confidentiality that has been entrusted to you. The nature of your job may
provide you with access to confidential information regarding Friends for Youth, program participants, or
fellow employees. Don’t divulge or discuss proprietary information, internal documents, personal details
about other people, or other confidential material.
Don’t publish or cite personal details, indentifying information, or photographs of Friends for Youth
staff, Board members, volunteer Senior Friends and Junior Friends, and other supporters without
their permission and, for program participants, without a signed release. Any disclosure of confidential
information will be subject to the same Friends for Youth personnel policies that apply to wrongful
dissemination of information via email, conversations and written correspondence.
Do not copy full text, audio, or photographs from any Friends for Youth sites onto a personal site or
web page. You can link or connect to our site through widgets that Friends for Youth provides to the public
Use social networking to promote the mission and vision of Friends for Youth. Posts and comments
should be thought‐provoking and build a sense of community. If it helps people improve knowledge or skills,
be inspired to support us, become involved in our programs or activities, or understand Friends for Youth
better ‐ then it's adding value.
Be active and timely. Maintain your presence – don’t do it just for the sake of participating in social media,
but try to post at least once every few weeks. Over the long run, if you find yourself not posting, consider
whether you should continue or become a contributor to a group effort.
Ensure that your social networking activities don’t interfere with your work commitments. In order
for social media endeavors to be successful, you need to find the right balance between social media and
Staff Protocol for Social Media Use
Consistency and branding
Mentoring Services Program Manager will become or designate another staff member to become the
administrator for social media/networking accounts. This person will maintain a file of all account, log in, and
password information. Before creating a new account, check to be sure there is a need. Once the need is
confirmed, staff may register for any and every social media service to reserve our name “Friends for Youth”
ideally with no variation in spelling or abbreviation. When setting up a profile:
• Use a standard email address (firstname.lastname@example.org);
• Add as much of our company information (address, web site, etc.) as possible; and
• Set privacy settings to be appropriate for the tool or site.
For the Friends for Youth Twitter account: no signatures or separate posting identities are needed.
For the Friends for Youth blog: log in as Friends for Youth or as individual author.
Handling "unwanted" followers or user‐generated content
Check followers/fans for opt‐in accounts on a regular basis and remove unwanted connections as soon as
possible. This may include spammers or inappropriate content‐generators, identifiable by viewing their
If any staff views unrelated content or spam on any sites, it is advised to remove it as soon as possible.
Program participants are given a copy of the Friends for Youth Social Media Policy and are advised to follow it
the same as employees. Senior Friends are also given additional guidelines regarding the confidentiality of
content related to their Junior Friends. If followed correctly, unwanted or incorrect content will likely not be
generated from these advocates. However, if a staff member does see content that does not support the
mission and vision of our program, it is advised to
• Contact the author offline and clearly state the problem with the content;
• Suggest alternatives to convey the author’s intent while supporting Friends for Youth’s core values; and
• Ask for more feedback or ask to continue the dialog if not satisfied.
If a Senior Friend uses any content that is specifically designated as not acceptable to share, staff may contact
the Senior Friend immediately and request that the inappropriate material be removed immediately. It is
advised to take a friendly and collegial approach, as many Senior Friends may have forgotten or overlooked
the guidelines and the breach may be unintentional.
Other people who are not satisfied with our efforts (potentially declined volunteer Senior Friends) may
choose to express their dissatisfaction through social media. If any advocate, whether staff member or
program participant, views negative or damaging content about Friends for Youth, it is advised to first bring
to the attention of the Mentoring Services Program Manager. Together, staff can assess the pros and cons of
addressing the content on social media. If the decision is made to move forward with handling the content,
address each issue individually and make suggestions as to what information can be added or changed so that
the message aligns with Friends for Youth’s core values, usually by offering an alternate viewpoint as a
comment or feedback that expresses the positive nature of our program.