Twitter Guide for Government Agencies: Automation

Download the PDF: Thou Shalt Tweet! 15 Commandments for Government Agencies on Twitter

8. THOU SHALT NOT AUTOMATE THY TWEETS

I know it can be tempting! Automation reduces the workload, but there are two major drawbacks:
1 - It is not social
2- It can get you in
trouble!


Not-so-social!
Nothing says “I don’t really give a darn about this engagement nonsense” better than automated tweets, replete with cut off text and links because the person inputting the titles to your news releases or page titles knows nothing about Twitter. If you are going to tweet, take the two extra minutes to craft a tweet that at least shows a genuine interest in sharing valuable information.

Double trouble!
Forgetting for a moment that this is against Twitter rules, you may remember recently that some politicians (who shall remain anonymous) recently got a nasty surprise when false tweets began showing up on their accounts. You see, these politicians were tweeting the RSS feeds of a higher up whose site had been hacked. So the false tweets were being spread through out their network of tweeters. Needless to say, they don’t do that anymore!

One thing that is accepted and in fact, good practice is to schedule tweets ( it helps if you are using a Twitter client). If it is very important information, you could Tweet it when it comes out and schedule a similar tweet for peak viewing times ( usually, early morning, early afternoon, and after dinner time)
If your target audience is in a different time zone, you should take that into account.

What if your audience is international? You could plan 3 tweets at 12 hour intervals. Just make sure there is different content that appears between those tweets so it doesn’t look like you are just tweeting the same thing over and over.


GovLoop Tip: Use the Right Language
Make sure you are using language online that your audience is receptive too. This will take some time to feel out. You don’t have a lot of space in a tweet, so think critically about each character. GovLoop Member David Ferguson shares his experiences:

Things I don’t care for (recognizing this is only my opinion): excess of exclamation points. ALL CAPS stuff. Gratuitous personalization, as in “I just checked out the Libraries list of upcoming events. Wow! “ -- who’s *I* and why is he so easily impressed?

And, oh, heavens, the bureaucratic passive: “Public Encouraged to Attend The Next Budget Forum.” (their quirky title caps.)

So, have a clear voice and don’t try too many tricks. It is very challenging to describe a link in less than 140 characters, but this is an essential skill an agency needs to master.


Complete Listing of All 15 Twitter Commandments


This guide evolved from a post by Alain Lemay on GovLoop titled “Who Not to Follow On Twitter: A Guide for Public Sector Employees.” Alain is a Senior Web Communications Analyst for the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Agency in Canada. He graciously donated his time to assist in producing the 15 Commandments for Government Agencies on Twitter Guide in tandem with the GovLoop team.


  1. Thou Shalt Listen Before You Leap
  2. Thou Shalt Use Thy Profile Information Properly
  3. Thou Shalt Have a Disclaimer
  4. Thou Shalt Not Be a Bully (Nobody Likes a Bully!)
  5. Thou Shalt Tweet Regularly
  6. Thou Shalt Integrate My Tweet Approval Process
  7. Thou Shalt Not Register Alternate Accounts
  8. Thou Shalt Not Automate Thy Tweets
  9. Thou Tweet In the First Person
  10. Thou Shalt Not Bait and Switch
  11. Thou Shalt Not Spam
  12. Thou Shalt Be Selective About Who You Follow
  13. Thou Shalt Monitor Thy Account
  14. Thou Shalt Contribute to the Conversation
  15. Thou Shalt Measure for Success