Social media are online platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram that allow local Scouting to engage with existing volunteers and potential volunteers (and potentially also young people) in an interactive and conversational way.
These channels can be useful in building a good dialogue between people interested in Scouting and can be a highly visual way of sharing photos and videos, as well as offering real time updates on what Scouting is up to. Social media has no print or distribution costs and is a cheaper option than printed media.
If a negative comment is made on a social networking site due to a member misunderstanding a message or because they are not aware of all the relevant details, it is then appropriate to take time to respond politely and clear up any misunderstanding. If a negative comment is made because a member expresses their opinion, dislikes or disagrees with a post, the ideal is to let the comment stay visible and leave your other members to provide counter-opinions.
Always conduct yourself on the internet as you would face-to-face and be aware of what you say and how you say it. If you wouldn’t say or do something in the “real” world, then don’t do it online. Never provide personal details about young people or volunteers and always ensure you have parental permission to use any photos of young people. Only ever use the first names of young people on any photo or video caption and only share appropriate photos, the sort that you would be happy putting on a public notice board (a good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t be happy for your mum – or District Commissioner – to see it, then don’t do it!). Remember that, potentially, anyone can view content on the internet.
Please note that posts on social media are widely accessible and can easily be passed on; always be sure that any information or comments made are appropriate and in keeping with the Scouting ethos. Don’t use your personal social networking account to communicate directly, on a one-to-one basis with young people.
Factsheet FS103011 Social Networking Sites and Scouting (PDF) gives further, important safeguarding guidance.