Social Media considerations for Cities

I want to thanks Stephanie Weiss, from the League of Minnesota Cities, for sharing links on documents they used in a recent tour talking about social media. She shared two documents that I think would be helpful to anyone charged with thinking about social media policies:

Social Media and Cities: Questions and Considerations (pdf) includes basic definitions of various social media tools and some nice examples of how social media should be implemented and how it might be inadvertently implemented. It includes questions to consider:

  1. Should the city use social media? (You’ll want to think about staffing levels, staffing interest, technology support communication needs and overall city goals.)
  2. What social media tools should the city use?
  3. Should the city take a centralized or decentralized approach to social media?
  4. Are postings to social media government data and/or subject to records retention?
  5. What about city staff who use social media for personal reasons?
  6. What about elected officials who use social media?

There’s also some nice etiquette tips for official (and unofficial) social media accounts:
Account names – reflect a connection to the city IF you’re official
Transparency – be upfront about any connection
Honesty – hopefully obvious
Mistakes – correct them quickly and be upfront
Mind the law and existing policies and guidelines
Only post to third-party sites when it is relevant to city
Media contacts – still go through normal channels

They have also posted a computer use policy. There’s a straightforward policy to use as explanation of that policy. I won’t go into detail – but it looks good and I’m a big fan of borrowing from smart folks over reinventing the wheel.

There’s also a document related to communication between council members. It’s helpful if the open meeting law ever applies to you. It’s also helpful as a citizen because while I think electronic communication is essential to getting anything done – I also want to be able to see how things are done by the government.

A preferred method seems to be to discourage email (or other online) communication among segments of the city council and use email as a way to share info by sending an y info to a single person such as the city clerk – and have that person send on to the group.

This entry was posted in MN, New Media, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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