The Social Media Subcouncil Asks: What’s in a Name?

When it comes to social media, how you position your brand goes a long way for conveying authenticity and trust. Social media naming conventions are equally important for government agencies as they are for celebrities, commercial entities, and other branded organizations. Prior to commencing activity in the social space, it’s important for government communicators to take a strategic approach to naming conventions.

The Social Media Subcouncil’s workgroup on Recommended Naming Conventions has recently released Draft Guidelines for Social Media Naming Conventions to help assist government agencies starting out with social media services such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. And we’re looking for your input!

Our draft guidelines address:

  • Securing and protecting your brand
  • Conveying Authenticity and Trust
  • Consistency
  • Account Names – “Personalized” accounts created for work-related purposes vs. master accounts representing your agency

  • Considerations for URLs and File names

Our draft guidelines are now available on the subcouncil’s wiki. First, request access to the wiki (everyone’s welcome, whether in government or not; we just don’t want anonymous edits). Once you have access, you can provide your input in two ways:

1. Enter a comment on the wiki using the comment section at the bottom of the page;

2. Better yet, provide your input by directly editing the page.

We look forward to your contributions.

Want to discuss further? Find us on Twitter or GovLoop.

Marilyn Clark is the Manager of Online Communications and Services for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and a member of the Social Media Subcouncil. You can connect with her on Twitter or GovLoop.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

David Harrity

Excellent work and great points, particularly about securing your brand early even if the agency hasn’t worked out all the policies to allow use on popular social networking sites, NOW is the time to reserve the agency’s name at these sites.

Les Painter

The work completed, is outstanding!

When giving a name to an event/convention, should the title should include what the mission or function of the event/convention is; in some abbreviated form. What do you think?


I like the point that your agency is already being branded so you need to get out there and take control of it. So for example at ICE, if you search for the term on YouTube there are tons of videos that I don’t think our representative of our brand. So we need to reclaim that space on Google, YouTube, etc. That’s what citizens do – they don’t go directly to websites.

Marilyn Clark

Thank you all for the positive feedback on our draft guidelines. It’s great so many of us are all tuned into the brand/reputation management and monitoring aspect of social media.

When considering these guidelines, we really applied good old-fashioned communication principles, which I think would apply to your question, Les. Titles should communicate as much as possible (mission, function, organization, etc.) — all depending on your target audience, the messages you are trying to convey, etc. We can toss the question around with our Naming Convention workgroup and provide some additional guidance there.

Dave Hebert

I am thrilled that this being worked on. Brand and image are very important for any organization’s connection with the society it serves and interacts with and, until recently, I don’t think the government at large realized that principle applied to it, too.