Twitter Guidelines for Comment (esp Local Gov uses)
June 3, 2009 at 6:52 pm #73346
Attached is a near-final draft of Roanoke County, Virginia's Twitter Guidelines. This is structured as a working guideline document to help guide our local county departments on how to implement Twitter, appropriate usage, while lending some oversight authority to our Web 2.0 Working Group (cross-departmental collection of Web 2.0 geeks). Our county could probably field 6-8 definitive Twitter streams at the moment (we already have three), so we thought it best to try to add some structure for departments wishing to enter the arena.
Any comments or suggestions? What did we miss?
June 3, 2009 at 7:11 pm #73353
The whole beauty and creativity and use of what I called "Relaxed Media" is the lack of rules or strict form. If I were an employee I'd shy away from using twitter or any medium after reading this.
A couple of things that made me shudder:
- You should not use the word twitter any place in this document. This is one of MANY communication channels that are going to come and go over time. You should make your policy more generic so it is not obsolete if/when Twitter goes under, and so it will work when the next big thing comes along. An attorney passed a contract by me about 2 months ago that was Twitter specific. I had him rewrite in more generic terms to cover a larger umbrella.
..." not create a public forum for displaying comments". What does this mean? By saying people can use use any kind of social media you instantly have created a public forum.
- Can people put out business and personal information via their personal accounts? The question is moot - it will happen. And you cannot govern what people do on their personal accounts on their personal time.
- You cannot backup a twitter account and I would not even try. Besides the information does not belong to you. It belongs to the company that owns/manages twitter. They have the backups. If you start this trend are you going to have people backup every location of everything they utter in Social Media? Not possible so I would not ask this out of people.
- You are going to restrict who they can follow? So they cannot follow a concerned citizen down the street who has legitimate communication to make? How about the personal (not biz) account of a Parks official in other state who tweets out great information?
I am not trying to be a downer. But IMO you are trying to put a lot of rules on something that got popular because it had very few rules to begin with.
June 3, 2009 at 7:32 pm #73351
I agree most strongly with your last point - our organization does impose too many rules for something that is so populat because it has so little structure. Like you, I love and appreciate the "beauty and creativity of Relaxed Media" daily on both personal and professional levels.
That being said, the guidelines are meant for two primary things: allowing County-branded departments to engage in Twitter with their constituents while protecting the County government's political and legal interest in the communication that's being released (OK - that sounds harsh even to me - but the truth is that we all have a boss, some of us more than one).
Trying to balance these two competing needs is a hard fence to straddle sometimes. Maybe the language just needs to be more positive and encouraging for our departments...?
As for backing up Twitter, we've found that tweetake does a fine job for us.
Also - We have an approved Social Media Policy that contains the broad language you mentioned up front. The Twitter Guidelines are just that - a guideline document meant to give a department something to go by when they start to specifically enter the twitter arena. Roanoke County's Social Media policy is posted at MuniGov2.0, or check out my blog.
June 3, 2009 at 10:03 pm #73349
You should mention that there should be full transparency in the account profile viewed by others; in other words, there should be a logo or something official as an avatar, and the URL for the dept should be posted, in addition to a brief description of the dept.
You need to offer guidelines on the creation and usage of hashtags.
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