Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) recognizes the value of social media as a mechanism for furthering the Lab’s communications goals and for enhancing collaboration, education, information exchange, and public outreach in support of Berkeley Lab’s mission. The following guidelines are for Lab staff who currently use or are considering using, social media channels in an official capacity on behalf of Berkeley Lab, such as to represent a department, division, area, or user facility. These guidelines also provide guidance for Lab staff on the personal use of social media as it pertains to their affiliation with Berkeley Lab.
Berkeley Lab staff are subject to all applicable UC and Berkeley Lab policies when using social media, including but not limited to Berkeley Lab’s policies on Acceptable Use of Information Technology and Public Information and External Relations in Berkeley Lab’s Requirements and Policies Manual (RPM).
Berkeley Lab Primary Social Media Channels
Strategic Communications is responsible for establishing and managing social media accounts that represent the entire Laboratory. These Lab-wide, primary accounts include the Lab’s primary accounts on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.
For an updated list of all Berkeley Lab-affiliated social media accounts, please visit https://newscenter.lbl.gov/social-media.
Requests for Posts to Appear on Primary Berkeley Lab Social Media Channels
StratComm uses the primary social media channels to curate the scientific identity, culture, history, and values of the Lab. All post should adhere to the following criteria:
1.) The content communicates significant scientific milestones, funding announcements, and leadership announcements that further the Lab’s focus of discovery science and mission-driven basic research. Or the content highlights Lab culture, history, and people that align with the values of the Laboratory.
2.) The content is presented in a way that is accessible and relevant to a range of Berkeley Lab stakeholders, including policymakers, the Department of Energy, the broader scientific community, science media, and the general public.
3.) The content has been reviewed by Lab subject area experts, when appropriate, and sent to the Office of Science for awareness
Content that does not align with Lab priorities or values, or is intended for a niche audience, is not appropriate for primary Lab social media channels. To submit content to StratComm for publishing to Berkeley Lab primary social media channels, please review the Social Media Content Submission Requirements.
Berkeley Lab-Affiliated Social Media Channels
Content that is published on Berkeley Lab-affiliated social media channels should be professional, stay on topic, be respectful, and be protective of confidential information. In addition, content should:
- Be of interest to the Lab’s or the channel’s target audiences
- Pertain to Berkeley Lab’s scientific missions and values
- Be understandable by the target audience
- Not focus on narrow topics or events with limited audience appeal
Content Moderation Criteria
Berkeley Lab respects different opinions and hopes to foster dialogue in the social media space. It is important to engage with your audience as well as monitor channels for engagement that may be outside of Berkeley Lab values. Berkeley Lab and Lab-affiliated accounts reserve the right to monitor content posted on Lab-affiliated social media accounts and considers outside of the purpose of such accounts comments that:
- Contain obscene, indecent, or profane language
- Contain threats or defamatory statements
- Contain hate speech directed at race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity, age, religion, or disability
- Contain sensitive or personally identifiable information
- Promote illegal activity
- Promote commercial services or products
- Comprise support for, or opposition to, political campaigns or ballot measures
- Promote or endorse specific commercial services or products
- Are off-topic or do not contribute to the larger discussion
Other considerations and references
- Follow LBNL Social Media Guidelines, including the flowchart “Should I post this to social media?” when posting to social media as a representative of Berkeley Lab
- Use established hashtags to avoid using something that might have multiple meanings. For further guidance on Facebook and Twitter best practices, refer to the U.S. Department of Energy’s social media policies.
To Launch a Lab-Affiliated Social Media Channel
Interested in representing a Berkeley Lab area, division, facility, or program on social media by starting a new account? Email the following to [email protected].
- Social media platform(s) to be utilized and proposed name of account
- Name of area, division, facility, or program
- Name of ALD-level approver
- Name of employee(s) responsible for managing account, including determining and approving content to be posted
- Communication objective and strategy, including an explanation as to why a separate social media presence is being requested rather than leveraging existing social media accounts
- Description of the target audience
- Description of type of anticipated posts (e.g., scientific articles, news, announcements, links to other sites, photos, gifs, videos, etc.) including a few examples of proposed posts
- Plan for managing, updating, and monitoring social media site(s) on an ongoing basis (e.g., frequency of posts, process for developing and approving posts, whether public comments will be enabled, how and when comments will be monitored for questions, misinformation or other content that may require a response, criteria for liking, sharing, reposting or commenting on third party pages and posts)
- Description of any proposed metrics for measuring the success of the social media activity
All individuals proposing, managing, or maintaining social media accounts representing Berkeley Lab or Berkeley Lab entities must coordinate these activities with Strategic Communications and must consider their stewardship responsibilities to safeguard the reputation, priorities, and communications objectives of the Laboratory. Additionally, they must consult the Lab’s Media Interactions & External Communications policy, as well as the Ethics and Conduct policy, the Acceptable Use of Information Technology policy, and the resources found under the Public Information and External Relations policy area page prior to proposing a new social media account representing the Lab, when considering content appropriate for posting, or when developing processes for content review and approval.
Additionally, Strategic Communications manages the Lab’s relationships and content review processes with a number of Lab stakeholders and is available to advise. Additionally, Strategic Communications may make recommendations to the Lab Director and/or relevant ALD regarding the need, appropriateness, and/or conduct of a proposed or existing social media account. These recommendations and determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account Berkeley Lab-wide social media and public affairs objectives, the number of accounts, the merits of the proposed objectives and plans in relation to Berkeley Lab’s communication strategy, stakeholder guidance, and other criteria deemed relevant by Strategic Communications.
NOTE: No single person is authorized to take down, disable, or delete any social media accounts representing Berkeley Lab or its entities unless prior approval is obtained from Strategic Communications. Because of the potentially high consequences to the Lab’s public identity of a loss of control of a Lab social media account, individuals responsible for social media accounts representing Berkeley Lab or its entities are required to carefully protect account credentials and account security, supply current account credentials to their manager in the area/division/facility program where they report, and notify Strategic Communications before leaving the Lab, changing Lab roles, or abandoning the account(s).
Employee Personal Use of Social Media
Lab employees are encouraged to contribute to official Berkeley Lab channels by liking, commenting, and sharing posts. If your program or department has an idea for a post that you would like to see posted to an official Berkeley Lab channel, please propose it to StratComm for consideration by emailing [email protected].
Without proper authorization, employees are not permitted to represent Berkeley Lab or make public statements on behalf of Berkeley Lab or any of its programs in any context, including through social media channels. This does not prohibit employees from liking, sharing, or commenting on content posted to Berkeley Lab social media channels. Do not imply that you are representing Berkeley Lab, or any of its areas, user facilities, or divisions without permission. Consider using disclaimers on personal accounts. Examples include: “My personal opinions are not necessarily the opinions or position of my employer” or “Opinions are mine, not my employer’s.”
Members of the Lab workforce must:
- Not register personal social media accounts to @lbl.gov email address (LinkedIn is the ONLY exception).
- Not engage in discussions involving restricted scientific and technical data on social media sites
- Refer outside media inquiries related to social media posts to Strategic Communications and email [email protected] to notify Stratcomm that a reporter showed interest.
Lab employees’ personal use of social media is subject to the following:
- Personal use of social media during work hours must not interfere with the performance of employee’s job duties
- When posting to social media channels using personal resources or during non-working hours, employees are still subject to all applicable laws, regulations, and policies regarding protection and disclosure of Berkeley Lab information.
- Employees who discuss matters related to Berkeley Lab on social media channels must make clear that they are speaking for themselves and not on behalf of Berkeley Lab, or any of its programs.
- Personal social media accounts may not be used to conduct official Berkeley Lab business.
- Employees should always be mindful that social media posts are public and permanent, despite attempts to delete them, and that any personal or Berkeley Lab information that is shared can potentially be used by social profilers, hackers, “phishers,” and other bad actors against employees, their families, and Berkeley Lab.
- Employees using social media are responsible for complying with the social media platform terms of service and with copyright, defamation and other applicable laws relating to any comments or other content that they post. Berkeley Lab is not responsible for the content of employee social media posts.
Guidance on the use of Berkeley Lab IT as it pertains to social media
- When using DOE/Berkeley Lab resources and equipment for social media, do not pursue political activities or engage in private business activities.
- Do not use Berkeley Lab email addresses to register on social networks. The only exception is LinkedIn, which uses domains to verify your employer.
- Professional use of social media sites is OK, but minimize your personal time on social networks during work time or when using DOE/Berkeley Lab equipment or resources.
Tips on using social media
Social media is a great way to engage a large audience, but there are ways to do it well—and not so well—so please read on.
- Crisis communications? Leave that to StratComm. If an emergency affects Berkeley Lab and/or the surrounding community, communications from Berkeley Lab are controlled via the Emergency Operations Center. This prevents confusion and misleading information. Please refrain from releasing information not approved by StratComm to any Lab-affiliated social media channels.
- Add value: Make sure your social media posts add to the conversation. Stick to your area of expertise and provide unique perspectives on what’s going on at Berkeley Lab and the world.
- Do us proud: Remember that any Berkeley Lab-branded social media channel is an extension of the Lab’s “voice.”
- Think before you post: There is no delete button on the internet, and social media is about as public a stage as you can find. If it gives you pause, you should pause.
- Make a mistake? If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and be quick with your correction.
- Play nice. Be respectful and considerate. Don’t get into an argument with followers.
- Know what NOT to post. Ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are private or internal to Berkeley Lab. If you are unsure, ask the source of the information. All statements must be true/factual and not misleading. Never comment on anything related to legal matters, litigation, or any parties we are in litigation with. Respect proprietary information, content, and confidentiality.