Twitter Guide for Government: Listen

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


We cannot emphasize enough the fact that any government organization should learn to monitor social media before they even attempt to create a Twitter (or any other type of) account.

If you went to a social function and saw a group of people in the midst of a discussion, would you just barge in and start talking about your work and your interest? No, you would walk over to the group, listen in a bit to see what they are talking about, and then when there was an opening to add value to the conversation, you would chime in. The same principle should be applied to social media, especially on Twitter. The important lesson for government agencies while using social media is to go where your citizens are. Listen in on their concerns, needs and interests. And then contribute where it adds value.
There are many tools you can use to monitor your Twitter accounts and listen to your citizens. If your agency wants to broaden and monitor multiple social media channels (and you have the money), you can go for one of the big guys (Radian6, Scout Labs, Alterian).
On the cheaper side, Hootsuite, TweetDeck and Seesmic all offer free or very affordable social media management/monitoring solutions. You can do a lot of cool things with these tools. One cool feature is that you can link your Facebook account with your Twitter account, this will save you a lot of time posting content in multiple locations.
Also worth mentioning are Social Mention and Google Alerts.
But for a simpler approach, you can start with Twitter Advanced Search, Monitor and Twitterfall to name a few other tools you can use to monitor Twitter.

GovLoop Tip: Use the Search Function
Comment in the Twitterati Group from GovLoop member Sam Allgood:
“Search for terms in your area of interest to find people to follow who are tweeting about the area. Once following, read their tweets for hints on how to tweet.
Check out different tools like TweetDeck and to find a tool that is comfortable for you.”

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