Social Media Guidelines 101

social-media-starfishSocial media can be a powerful tool for sharing the joys and triumphs of Scouting, but it should be managed properly to help ensure that it remains beneficial. Below are some basic considerations for using social media in a Scouting capacity.

  • Use forethought, care, and responsibility when creating and maintaining social media channels where people share information and media about Scouting.
  • Adhere to the terms of service and existing guidelines outlined by each individual social media channel such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
  • Abide by the guidelines outlined in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, as well as BSA Youth Protection policies when participating in social media activities. That includes following recommended Scouting Safely guidelines (including the use of proper safety equipment) when displaying photos and/or videos of Scouts and leaders on a social media channel.
  • Follow the spirit of two-deep leadership and keep social media channels and all communication on or through them public. Designate at least two administrators who have access to the login, password, and channel management/monitoring information.
  • Use the guidelines set forth on the BSA National Council Facebook Info Tab in its digital contract at https://www.facebook.com/BoyScoutsofAmerica .
  • Before creating a Facebook page, consider whether designated administrators will be able to monitor that page and post content consistently to help ensure that only appropriate content is posted.
  • Do not give out Scouts’ personal information (e.g., last name, phone number, home address) on social media channels.
  • Never post questionable content or respond to someone else’s content in a way that could reflect poorly on yourself or the BSA.
  • Be timely in updating social media channels and responding to information requests on social media channels.
  • Understand that the public may view your social media activities, and members of the public may engage in an online dialogue with you as a result.
  • Do not do anything on a social media channel that reflects poorly on you, other individuals in your council or unit, the BSA, or anyone else.

Additional thoughts….

It is important to remember that all social media channels are, by nature, designed to be social, that is, shared with members of the public. As such, whatever social media activities you engage in should be completed with the understanding that the public will see them and may engage in an online dialogue with you as a result. You should not do anything on a social media channel that reflects poorly on you, other individuals in your council or unit, the Boy Scouts of America, or anyone else. Before posting any content on any social media channel, you should first ask yourself if that content is in keeping with the precepts of the Scout Oath and Law.

As an additional consideration, once created, social media channels and the content on them “live forever” on the Internet, sometimes even if the accounts have been deleted. That means social media channels created today may still exist five, 10, or 15 years from now, in some cases long after those who started them are no longer involved directly with Scouting. As such, considerations should be made regarding the transitioning of administration rights and duties if and when the initial administrators end their direct involvement in Scouting.

Also, organizations wishing to use social media must accept the fact that listening is just as important as speaking in these channels, and those wishing to participate in this space should be prepared to listen if they are to reap any value.

Social media can be a powerful tool for sharing the joys and triumphs of Scouting, but if not executed properly, it can be a detriment to everything Scouting represents. As such, engage in social media activities wisely. Also realize that social media is a new and evolving form of communication that requires flexibility, patience, and commitment, but the rewards of increased connection with, and understanding of, your target audience can be great.

In your social media communications, you should be clear that it is not an official BSA social media channel but is instead your own personal channel. You can use the following template as an example:

“This site is the personal [reference your specific social media channel] of [your name or organization] and is reflective only of my personal views, thoughts, and opinions. This site does not have the endorsement of the Boy Scouts of America, and it is not an official communication channel of the Boy Scouts of America.”

See the complete Boy Scouts of America Social Media Guidelines at http://www.scouting.org/Marketing/Resources/SocialMedia.aspx for full details.

Should you have questions not covered here regarding any of the guidelines and/or recommendations or concerning the use of a specific social media channel, please contact the BSA National Council social media team at social.media@scouting.org