Social Media Best Practices
The following are an initial draft of the best practices for governmental use of social media:
1) The use of social media is not solely a technical or tool based decision. It is rather a policy and operational decision that should be based on organizational culture and whether such use advances the mission of the entity.
2) Before using social media tools a governmental entity must clearly define the overall goal and purpose of such use. As with any project or initiative, development of a strategic plan is critical to success and smooth operation.
3) The governmental entity should develop a social media policy and create guidelines for use by the entity and its employees. The policy and guidelines for employees should cover representation of agency by an employee as well as how personal use can impact the agency.
4) The governmental entity should identify communities of interest or core constituencies that the entity should actively engage. Engagement should not focus around the entities web presence rather constituencies should be engaged where the constituents have a presence. However, the entity should be mindful that the entity is a guess of these groups when the entity begins to engage and that online communities will more readily accept the entity on its ability to add value to the community. It is also important to be mindful that constituent groups are both external and internal.
5) The governmental entity should assure that the entity is accessible. Social media should not be the sole channel of communication or engagement by a government. Instead social media should be one of multiple channels to contact and interact with the agency. It is also highly useful for the entity to create a directory of the entity's social media accounts and to post this information on the agencies Web site.
6) A governmental entity needs to embrace a willingness to experiment. Social media use should be initiated in small pilot projects that maximize potential success and allow for the pilot to "fail fast and fail small." Each pilot and the overall social media strategy must be allowed to evolve and change (i.e. the social media strategy is in perpetual beta).