Social Media in Government: More Than a Check Box

When I Googled “how to develop a social media policy,” hundreds of results popped up that would be helpful to any person starting out. I previously discussed the resources and circumventing the information for you little luddites out there (available here.) Historically I would say you’d be hard-pressed to find any agency that didn’t hesitate when asked to create a platform where control over the message was limited and access to more inside information was not only easier, but also expected.  Thus social media for many was simply a “check box,” not a communications strategy that required planning and thoughtful implementation. What followed caused some agencies to thrive and others falter – the creation of a social media policy.


And the answer is those who initiated one, even midstream, became more successful overall. The policy serves as a blue print for your social media plan and provides the rationale for your work so more resources will become available to you. Most public affairs’ offices today have enough on their plate so it’s important to make a compelling case about the relevance and value to the agency for leadership buy-in. One solid way to do this is to provide data. Metrics can tell us about people’s behavior online, and behavior online gives us an opportunity to try and influence it, and if we achieve in changing that behavior, voilà! We have evidence of ROI (return on investment) and everyone goes home happy.  If you (or your agency) needs more convincing, here is a fun infographic to wow everyone with.

Now let’s get started on a quick tutorial on policy.

  1. Identify the audience – Who are you speaking to? Do you want to target one niche audience or several? What platforms are they most active on? (Quick resource –
  2. Choose the platform – Once you identify where your audience lives, construct the page to best represent your agency.
  3. Identify the message – Remember, CONTENT IS KING. If you do not have the content for Instagram, don’t go on it! No time to write 1-2 blogs per week? Do not create it and then leave it out to dry – you will lose legitimacy and not be able to recover your followers after that.
  4. Policy on engaging with followers – You will learn that perhaps not everyone agrees with what you have to say, i.e. “Trolls,” and he will try and voice his opinion regularly. Do NOT delete this person’s messages! There are some exceptions to this rule but try and enforce policy guidelines on how you engage your followers, not stonewall them.
  5. Start posting! Find your influencers, respond to your followers, and schedule your editorial calendar messaging for optimal times to amplify your message.

via Riva Solutions Blog - The Federal Buzz