Social media

Aims and objectives

This module will:

  • explore the digital footprint you leave online
  • explore different social media platforms and their uses.

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • understand privacy concerns when using social media
  • use social media effectively to enhance learning and improve your online brand.

4. Content creation and security

Like any other form of communication creating content for social media requires planning. You need to identify your purpose for creating content, and the audience for whom it is intended.

Your audience

Think about who you are creating your social media posts for. Consider the following:

  • Who is your intended audience?
  • Is the post professional or of general interest?

A social media post for researchers with an interest in neuroscience would be different to posts aimed at an audience who enjoy playing World of Warcraft. Make sure that your intended audience uses the social media platform that you plan to post on.

Content purpose

You should also consider the purpose of your social media posts. Are you planning to share information and news with your audience, help others develop knowledge and skills, or showcase worldwide travel and food?

Each social media platform has its own audience and content. If your content isn't reaching your intended audience you should think about changing the platform you are using.

For professional content

Social media is the primary news source for many Australians. It can be a powerful tool for communicating your data, insights or any information you want to share. Sometimes the media inaccurately oversimplifies information for the general public. Be careful to adequately explain yourself so that if your post does go “viral” the correct message is delivered. It is good practice to:

  • be clear and concise
  • check your spelling and grammar
  • provide evidence to support your statements
  • use graphs or tables to present your data in an easy to digest format, when appropriate
  • adhere to copyright if you include images, music, video, etc that are not your own.

Improve the chances of your post being seen

As posts attract further interaction they also become more visible to others and improve the chance of your content being prioritised by social media algorithms.


A hashtag is a phrase or keyword that is preceded by a # symbol and is used on some social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, Instagram, Weibo) to create a thread of conversations around a specific theme or topic. 

Mindful hashtag construction

If you are using Twitter and want to create a hashtag based on your professional interests make sure you choose the hashtag carefully. An example of an ambiguous hashtag is #nowthatchersdead. Twitter users interpreted this in a number of ways, and it resulted in a viral rumor spreading about Cher's death. It can be interpreted as either:

  • Now Thatcher Is Dead
  • Now That Cher Is Dead

For accessibility, it is now recommended to capitalise each word in the hashtag to make it easier to read. This type of formatting is referred to as camelCase e.g. #BlackLivesMatter

How is your content prioritised by social media?

All social media posts are prioritised for individual viewing according to algorithms used to optimise content being delivered. Behind the algorithms of social media explains what different social media algorithms are prioritising. In general, they promote posts that:

  • encourage engagement - commenting, liking, sharing
  • are likely to be relevant based on your previous behaviour
  • are from users who post consistently
  • are paid content and ads. They are businesses and want to make a profit.

Keeping your social media secure

Everyone thinks about their personal safety. You make sure your home is locked when you leave it, you ensure your wallet or phone are not easy to steal. As we take our physical safety seriously, we should also take our online safety seriously. The internet has brought opportunities to connect with others but there are also threats like scams and identity theft. The eSafety Commissioner provides information on online safety and the Internet essentials module gives more information on cyber security and staying safe online.

Familiarise yourself with social media privacy settings and what information you share online with others. Some social media platforms and their privacy settings:

  • Facebook frequently changes privacy policies and settings. To ensure your photos, personal information and comments remain private you should regularly check your privacy settings. Facebook privacy settings has more information
  • LinkedIn allows you to see who is viewing your information and to restrict viewing access. However, you will need to activate these settings yourself. See LinkedIn privacy settings to find out more
  • One thing to remember when using Twitter is that your tweets are public by default. There are some additional settings to make sure your information is private and that the tweets you send are going to the right audience. Explore Twitter privacy settings to learn more.

How To Remove Apps That Access Your Facebook Data (YouTube, 2m18s)

Remember that even with your best effort to keep information private, you cannot always control information others share about you or comment about you. See:


You can tag your photos on social media by geographic location using sites such as Geolmgr or Geotag. Geotagging photos allows you to “pin” your photos to the locations where they were taken. Google photos and Flickr are two photo sharing sites that allow you to geotag your photos.

There are ethical considerations when you are adding photographs to social media sites. You should not:

  • post or tag a photo that belongs to someone else without their permission
  • post a photo or video that may invade someone’s privacy e.g. their address, car licence plate, workplace/school or their children.

The eProfessionalism module has information about the legal, ethical and organisational constraints to sharing images. The Office of the eSafety Commissioner has further information and tips about social media and privacy.

The following article examines the use of facial recognition technology. What are the possible implications of such technology when used on social media platforms? Summer camps are using face recognition to keep track of camper photos.

Cyber abuse

Cyber abuse or cyber bullying is intimidating behaviour towards another person but online. Cyber abuse can happen on any social media platform. People may think they are anonymous online but this is not the case and it is a crime to harass or seriously offend a person online. Cyber abuse can happen in a variety of ways including:

  • Abusive or hurtful texts
  • Abusive emails
  • Sending photos or videos without your permission
  • Setting up fake profiles and pretending to be you.

The Digital wellbeing and privacy module has more information about the causes of inappropriate online behaviour and what actions you can take, including getting help from UQ Student Support.

In 2014 there was a very public example of the effect cyberbullying can have. Gamergate was an abusive harassment campaign aimed towards game developer Zoe Quinn, media critic Anita Sarkeesian (who had released a video analysing sexist stereotypes in games) and Brianna Wu, another game developer. Tim Brown’s ABC blog post A balanced view of GamerGate gives more information about Gamergate if you would like to read more about this controversy.

Duration:   Approximately 20 minutes

Graduate attributes

Knowledge and skills you can gain to contribute to your Graduate attributes:

Effective communication Effective communication

 Ethical and social understanding

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