Employee Participation in Social Media


Category: Communications
Subject: Employee Participation in Social Media
Division: Human Resources and Corporate Services
Policy Number: CA.55.01.101
Effective Date: October 1, 2015


Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) encourages the strategic use of both established and innovative social media tools and communications tactics to further agency goals and objectives. WDGPH will ensure strategies, tools and tactics are consistent with legal, legislative, professional (college) and internal requirements and that employees exercise an appropriate level of professionalism at all times.

Social media refers to internet-based tools that are used to develop and share content and engage with others. Social media, like other communication channels, can be used to:

  • Enhance service delivery;
  • Communicate with various audiences;
  • Raise the profile of the Agency; and
  • Provide information about WDGPH programs, services and health topics.

The laws of privacy, libel, copyright and human rights apply online just as they do to verbal, handwritten or printed communications.

All use of social media to represent WDGPH is to be discussed with and approved by Corporate Communications and the appropriate Managers prior to creation of social media accounts or campaigns. Corporate Communications may also provide guidance to an approved social media initiative on an ongoing basis.

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • Uphold the reputation of WDGPH;
  • Limit the liability of WDGPH and its employees;
  • Manage brand integrity and identity; and
  • Provide employees with social media guidelines.


This policy applies to all WDGPH employees including students, volunteers and contract employees.


WDGPH uses a “hub and spoke” model of social media management, in which Corporate Communications enables program areas to manage their own social media accounts by providing consultation, support and education. Corporate Communications also manages flagship accounts and ensures the brand is presented consistently across all platforms.

Employees will consult Corporate Communications as early as possible in the planning of a project or activity of which social media may be a part. Refer to procedure CA.55.02.101 for further clarification of roles.


WDGPH recognizes existing and novel opportunities for employees to leverage social media for business (Agency) purposes. These opportunities could include:

  • Creating a social media account on a specific platform (subject to review by Corporate Communications) to represent or be managed by WDGPH employees (e.g., Twitter account for beach postings; creating a Facebook account to use for contact tracing);
  • Participating in an online community as a representative of WDGPH (e.g., contributing to a coalition’s wiki site); and
  • Using social media as a means to fulfill an Agency or operational objective (e.g., creating a YouTube video for health promotion).

Employees responsible for managing and/or posting to social media accounts for business purposes will do so in accordance with:

  • Procedures as outlined in procedure CA.55.02.101 Employee Participation in Social Media;
  • Guidelines and templates prepared by Corporate Communications;
  • Applicable project planning documents; and
  • Written approval from their Manager.

Personal Use of Social Media:

WDGPH recognizes that employees participate in social media in their personal lives and with their personal devices/equipment. “Personal use” means any use that does not contribute to WDGPH agency business. For the purposes of this policy, “personal use” also includes using social media for career advancement purposes, such as the professional networking platform LinkedIn.

Employees are personally responsible for the content of their submission and are subject to WDGPH policies, the Human Rights and Harassment Policy, as well as legislation when making any online submission that:

  • Directly identifies an employee’s professional relationship with WDGPH, its employees, or Board of Health members; and
  • Is submitted while using equipment/network resources owned by WDGPH (including wireless Internet access).

When discussing matters related to WDGPH where the employee is identified as a WDGPH employee, employees will clearly note they are representing their personal views and not the views of WDGPH.

At no time will employees use, modify or post:

  • Materials that are owned/copyrighted by WDGPH, including images, screenshots, video or information, unless approved by Corporate Communications;
  • Materials licensed to WDGPH by a third party, including purchased images and consultant reports; and
  • Comments on behalf of WDGPH unless authorized to do so.

Online communities are not private. Even submissions to a limited access (password protected) community may be accessed by a wider audience than originally intended or by someone not expected to have access to the community.

Submissions should be considered permanent. Even content meant to be short-lived or deleted later could be recalled in the future.

Personal use of social media should be limited to lunch, break times, and before/after work. All information that is received, transmitted, or stored electronically on any WDGPH system is the property of WDGPH and may be viewed, read, edited, shared or deleted by those authorized by the Director, Human Resources & Corporate Services. See policy CA.54.01.105 Computer and Internet Use.


At no time should employees use social media to:

  • Post identifiable photos, videos, or other likenesses of staff members, community members, or other individuals who are not public figures without their written consent; or
  • Reveal, disclose, or discuss:
    • Matters concerning employees, employee relations or labour relations;
    • Agency matters that have confidentiality requirements;
    • Identifiable and/or personal information about another employee or citizen that is not publicly known and without consent; and
    • Information gained from companies, or other third parties as contracted with the Agency to provide goods, programs and/or services.

If an employee/internal user posts any of the above types of information to a platform managed by WDGPH, it should be removed as soon as possible. For guidance, refer the matter to Corporate Communications.


At no time will employees post or use social media content, including text, photos, videos or music that is copyright-protected. For assistance, contact the Librarian.


Training will be provided by Corporate Communications for all employees required to use social media as part of their work.


A breach of this policy by an employee is a serious matter and may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

Any employee who becomes aware of an accidental or intentional privacy breach must report it to their Manager in a timely fashion for direction. Refer to policy CA.58.01.100 Privacy Governance.

Unauthorized accounts may be shut down at the discretion of an employee’s Manager, Director or the Medical Officer of Health/CEO.


Social media – Internet-based tools that are used to develop and share content and engage with others. “Social media” can refer to a channel (e.g., blog, video-sharing site or project management tool) or a platform (specific software or website such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube).

Broadly, social media includes:

  • Blogs, discussion forums, chat rooms;
  • Bulletin boards;
  • Twitter, instant messaging (IM);
  • Mailing lists or listservs;
  • Photo/video sharing sites e.g., YouTube, Pinterest;
  • Social networking sites e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn;
  • Wikis; and
  • Web-based project management tools.


Corresponding Procedure: CA.55.02.101 Employee Participation in Social Media
 CA.54.01.105 Computer and Internet Use
 CA.55.02.100 Copyright Practice
CA.58.01.100   Privacy Governance
 CA.52.01.100 Harassment and Discrimination
Communications – Agency Style Guide and Branding Standards


Communications Specialist – New Media


Director, Human Resources and Corporate Services 


Category: Communications
Subject: Employee Participation in Social Media
Division: Human Resources and Corporate Services
Procedure Number: CA.55.02.101
Effective Date: October 1, 2015


Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) recognizes opportunities to engage in social media. Appropriate participation in social media can benefit our target groups and further the goals of the agency. Corporate Communications will support employees in social media involvement with ongoing education and guidelines for use.


1. Planning the use of social media should begin with a consultation with Corporate Communications and address questions such as which social media platform is most appropriate for reaching the target audience, how it will be used, how it will be maintained and associated costs. Corporate Communications should be made aware of all planned accounts and when each will go live.

2. Accounts should be registered to shared social media program specific email addresses to ensure appropriate coverage in the event of employee absence or illness. Passwords to these shared/general use accounts must be shared with Corporate Communications so they can monitor an account if necessary, i.e. as a back-up during an employee absence.

3. Employees designated and trained to use social media on behalf of WDGPH are not required to seek approval for each message or piece of content posted. Designated program employees will be trained prior to launch of social media efforts. Employees will follow WDGPH guidelines, editorial plans, their scope of practice and professional judgment to engage in conversations on social media. Employees will consult the Social Media Response Tree to guide their decisions or with Managers/Corporate Communications as required.

4, Employees will not use their personal email addresses, accounts or details to set up or maintain social media accounts for WDGPH. Likewise, employees will not use WDGPH social media accounts for personal use.

5. Copyright laws and CA.55.01.100 Copyright Practice policy apply to involvement in social media. The Librarian can help employees with required copyright practices.

6. Social media accounts that represent WDGPH or its programs/services must be appropriately branded. Conversely, personal accounts should not use the WDGPH logo or brand.

7. Employees are not required or expected to monitor social media accounts outside of business hours, unless otherwise planned and pre-approved by their Manager.

8. Additional considerations will be taken into account as required. For example, accounts expected to deal with breastfeeding content may require additional Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) review to ensure compliance with this specialized initiative.

9. Corporate accounts (representing WDGPH rather than a particular program area or campaign) are managed by Corporate Communications. The purpose of these accounts is to:

  • Maintain a public presence and profile for WDGPH;
  • Provide an additional route for communicating with clients and stakeholders (complementing email, phone, and in-person communications);
  • Strengthen the WDGPH brand;
  • Engage in appropriate public arenas; and
  • Provide excellent customer service.

Employees are encouraged to submit content (such as upcoming events, current “hot topics,” or mandatory program areas) to Corporate Communications to be included in the corporate editorial plan. 



Who is responsible?


Contact Corporate Communications to discuss using social media

Program staff with approval of Manager

Discuss how a particular initiative will aid in reaching program or organizational goals.

Approve creation of a social media account

Corporate Communications


Approves creation of any “spoke” accounts

  • A “hub-and-spoke” approach is one in which a small cross-functional core (hub) coordinates from a central position but execution is up to individuals, programs or teams.

Set up new accounts

Corporate Communications


  • Password shared with Corporate Communications and IT
  • Branding in line with corporate standards
  • Terms of Use and Disclaimer included
  • Accountable for activities on his/her team

Consult with colleges representing registered professions

Program area

May be additional requirements for members of registered professions – e.g., enhanced record-keeping or charting; providing credentials, etc. It is the responsibility of individuals to ensure they comply with college requirements.

Create guidelines, templates; provide training

Corporate Communications

Available on intranet

Consult on best practices

Corporate Communications

All employees should follow Agency guidelines and best practices re: response times, language, tone, branding, disclaimers, comment moderation

Maintain (create and post content, moderate, respond) program-area projects

Program area

Adhere to best practices, approved work plans, and program and agency guidelines

Manage corporate initiatives/accounts

Corporate Communications


Audit social media presence

Corporate Communications


Manage policy, procedure, and list of all WDGPH accounts

Corporate Communications


Choosing a Platform:

Corporate Communications does not specifically endorse or restrict the use of any social media platform. The most appropriate platform for any given initiative depends on many factors, including:

  • Where members of the target audience congregate online and what platforms they use;
  • A platform’s privacy policy and terms of service;
  • Feasibility of access (e.g., Instagram is not available on BlackBerry devices, whereas WDGPH only assigns Blackberry mobile devices); and
  • Cost.

Best Practice Guidelines:

These guidelines apply to official WDGPH postings but may be helpful for anyone posting online in any capacity.

  1. Think twice before posting. Privacy does not exist in the world of online communities. Consider what could happen if a post becomes widely known and how that may reflect both on you and WDGPH.
  2. Your post can live on. Search engines can turn up posts years after they are created, and comments can be forwarded or copied. If you wouldn’t say it at a conference or to a member of the media, consider whether you should post it online.
  3. Strive for accuracy. Get the facts straight before posting them. Review content for grammatical and spelling errors.
  4. Be respectful. Understand that content contributed to an online community could encourage comments or discussion of opposing ideas. Responses should be considered carefully in light of how they would reflect on the individual who posted and/or WDGPH.
  5. Remember your audience. Be aware that a presence in the social media world is, or easily can be, made available to the public at large. This includes clients, colleagues, partners and current and future employers. Consider this before publishing to ensure the post will not alienate, harm or provoke any of these groups.
  6. Identify your views. On personal sites, identify your views as your own. If you identify yourself as a WDGPH employee, or if a connection could be reasonably made to your identity as a WDGPH employee, it should be clear that the views expressed are not necessarily those of WDGPH. Never use or reference your formal position when writing in a non-official capacity. Consult Corporate Communications when in doubt.
  7. Photography. Photographs posted on social media sites easily can be appropriated by visitors. Remember that the policies of WDGPH related to copyright and images apply online as well as in print. Contact Corporate Communications with questions.


Corresponding Policy:  CA.55.01.101 Employee Participation in Social Media

Copyright Practice CA.55.02.100
CA.52.01.113 Employee Photo Release
Social Media Toolkit for Ontario Public Health Units (2012)
Social Media Response Tree
Project Planning Template


Communications Specialist – New Media


Director, Human Resources and Corporate Services