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Social Media Policy – Finally Approved!

For all those that have asked over the past several months, here is Roanoke County’s brand spankin’ new Social Media Policy, an administrative policy approved by the County administrator as a guiding document to help our locality further our Web 2.0 projects. So far our projects have been limited to a few County Twitter accounts and a few Facebook accounts.

The goals of developing the policy are to create a broad framework (purpose and position statement) for the development of Social Media, appoint accountability (County Administator and his assigned designees), and create an oversight authority (led by Public Information and IT) that will self-train and educate other departments in the appropriate use and (very importantly) coordination of Web 2.0 initiatives.

I dearly hope that some of you folks out there can use this as a launch point for your own local policies and procedures!

Document posted at the MuniGov2.0 site.


To address the fast-changing landscape of the Internet and the way residents communicate and obtain information online, county Departments may consider participating in social media formats to reach a broader audience. Roanoke County encourages the use of Social Media to further the goals of the County and the missions of its departments where appropriate.

The Board of Supervisors and the County Administrator have an overriding interest and expectation in deciding who may “speak” and what is “spoken” on behalf of Roanoke County on social media sites. This policy establishes guidelines for the use of social media.

Roanoke County’s Technology Governance committee shall approve what Social Media outlets may be suitable for use by the County and its departments. The Web 2.0 Working Group shall serve to educate departments on how to best use various Social Media outlets to achieve their goals.


A. All official Roanoke County presences on social media sites or services are considered an extension of the County’s information networks and are governed by the Electronic Media Usage Policy contained in the Roanoke County Employee Handbook.

B. The County Administrator will review department requests to use social media sites and may delegate this review function to the Web 2.0 Working Group and the Director of Public Information.

C. The Web 2.0 Working Group will advocate using Social Media to help departments reach their stated goals by assisting departments in developing appropriate uses for social media, assisting the selecting of appropriate social media outlets and helping departments define a strategy for engagement using Social Media.

D. Departments that use social media are responsible for complying with applicable federal, state, and county laws, regulations, and policies. This includes adherence to established laws and policies regarding copyright, records retention, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), First Amendment, privacy laws and information security policies established by Roanoke County.

E. Wherever possible, links to more information should direct users back to the County’s official website for more information, forms, documents or online services necessary to conduct business with Roanoke County.

F. Employees representing the County government via Social Media outlets must conduct themselves at all times as representatives of Roanoke County. Employees that fail to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner shall be subject to the Disciplinary Procedures outlined in the Roanoke County Employee Handbook and the Electronic Media Usage Policy.

G. The Public Information Office will monitor content on each of the Department social media sites to ensure adherence to the Social Media Policy for appropriate use, message and branding consistent with the goals of Roanoke County.

H. Violation of these standards may result in the removal of department pages from social media outlets. The Public Information Director retains the authority to remove pages.

Some notes…

The policy above mentions the “Web 2.0 Working Group.” We’re still trying to formalize what that groups overall goals and specific duties are, but I will post our proposed “Web 2.0 Working Group Charter” in a separate blog entry.

I will post the “Web 2.0 Workign Group Charter” under another blog entry.

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Adriel Hampton

Thanks for sharing, Gray, and congrats on your success. It looks like you were able to keep the policy short and simple, which is always good. I also like that you have an oversight function for consistency across departments.

Gray Craig

We’re focusing on the public facing depts first, like Parks & Rec,Libraries, Community Development. Economic Development doesn’t quite get it yet – but they are sitting in on the discussions. We also plan to bring in HR, as I’m sure they’ll want to explore the recruiting possibilities (after the hiring freeze is over!).

Adriel Hampton

Gray, I’ve written a little on using social media for economic development agencies, and also done some work on the issue with local blogs. The comments on this post are also helpful in that context.

Mike Green

This has given us food for thought here in Indiana. We’ll probably use your policy as a template for developing our own. To echo what Adriel said, thanks for sharing.

Susan Christophersen

Thanks for sharing Gray! This policy is very simple and straight-forward. It should be easy to build on. I think we will reveiw our draft policy and simplify. 😉