City of Edmonton Social Media Guidelines

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1 City of Edmonton Social Media Guidelines June, 2011

2 Table of Contents Introduction What are Social Media? Risks and Benefits of using Social Media General guidelines Speaking to the media Personal accounts and City business These guidelines have been developed and are maintained by the City of Edmonton Corporate Communications Branch.

3 Introduction Social media are online services and tools used for publishing, sharing and discussing information in the form of text, pictures, video and audio. They can involve a combination of technology, telecommunications and social interaction and provide unique opportunities and risks that need to be carefully managed. The City of Edmonton views social media as a dynamic way to connect with people. We use Facebook and Twitter to ensure Edmontonians have ready access to the information they seek and engage them with City activities and discussions. The City s YouTube channel is used to share information through multimedia. As the second largest search tool online, it is a powerful way to connect Edmonton to a massive existing online audience. This guide has been developed to help you better understand the opportunities, manage the risks and ensure that as an employee of the City of Edmonton you understand the responsibilities and boundaries associated with using Social Media in your work. On February 25, 2011, the City of Edmonton Corporate Leadership Team approved these Social Media guidelines. Corporate Communications will make the guidelines an addendum to the Media Relation Management Administrative Guidelines.

4 What are Social Media? Blog is short for "web log". Blogs are often used to publish news or commentary on particular subjects. They are used by many as online diaries. Viewers are usually asked to subscribe to blogs and will comment, ask questions and share information. A typical blog combines text, images, videos and links to additional content and social media channels. Micro-blogs are similar to blogs but are usually limited to a small number of characters. A popular example is Twitter that allows users to post entries of no more than 140 characters. Users also 'follow' one another and are notified in real time when new updates are posted. Users can connect quickly and through many different tools including mobile phones. Forums / boards are internet forums, or message boards where online discussions take place. Users can post messages and comment on other messages. Other types of social media often incorporate forums, sometimes with their own social conventions and etiquette (or 'netiquette'). Photo sharing sites such as Flickr allow users to upload images and allow other users to comment on them, or re-use them with permission. Social networking websites create online communities of people with common interests. On sites such as MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn, users can create a profile page, join groups, share photos and videos, post messages, and run other applications. These guidelines have been developed and are maintained by the City of Edmonton Corporate Communications Branch.

5 Risks and Benefits of using Social Media The City of Edmonton recognizes that Social Media presents a number of opportunities to engage citizens using familiar and widely available technologies. Social Media can be used to: increase citizens' access to government allow the City to be more active in its relationship with citizens, partners and stakeholders provide greater scope to adjust communications quickly when necessary increase the level of trust in City government provide additional communication channels in times of emergency reach specific audiences on specific issues manage messages by creating content that stands alongside mass media promote services and products Identifying the Risks and Effective Use Social media use is optimized when it is considered as part of a sustainable communications strategy and integrated with a variety of communications tools and tactics not when undertaken as a singular or distinct effort. Using social media comes with a certain amount of risk. To manage the risk effectively, all City employees need to know, understand and put into practice the guidelines for acceptable use of social media.

6 General Guidelines It is the duty of all City employees to represent the City in a positive way. As a City employee, you are permitted to use and internet, but only to perform duties approved by your supervisors and these services must never be used in an offensive or inappropriate manner. As an employee, you must not criticize the City as your employer or other city employees in public. This includes decisions of City Council, and can be interpreted to mean public comments in online communities. You should also recognize that comments made online are not anonymous. Even when you do not use your actual name, the computer you use for online posting is identifiable. As a citizen, you are encouraged to use social media to be informed about City of Edmonton. You have the right to voice your opinion at any meeting you attend, or online forum you visit on your own time. However, you must not identify yourself as a City employee, or use confidential City information. If you are unsure, ask yourself: Would I take this action if this were my own company? Find out more: Media Relations Management Directive NEVER communicate personal or confidential information without authorization. NEVER represent personal opinions as those of the City (or department, branch, etc.) These guidelines have been developed and are maintained by the City of Edmonton Corporate Communications Branch.

7 Speaking to the (regular or social) media While the conduct of each and every employee has an influence on the image of the City, the appropriate City spokesperson on an issue or inquiry is determined by Corporate Communications, working with branch or department experts or managers. Ideally, spokespersons will be employees who have had media training and who possess expertise on the subject matter or issue at hand. In certain situations, at the discretion of the Communications Branch manager, the City Manager or the Mayor, an official spokesperson may be designated and others asked to refer all inquiries to that person (See page five (5) of the Media Relations Management Directive) Using social media in an official capacity When you are using social media, the same rules apply as when you are talking with the media, or speaking at a conference. Employees acting as official City spokespeople must not express personal opinions in the same interview or in the same presentation. You must always be aware of the strong possibility for the perception of conflict of interest should you publicly express a personal opinion about City activity. If you have concerns about conflict of interest situations, talk to your manager or review the City of Edmonton Code of Conduct (Directive A1100C). When communicating through social media: Be credible. Be accurate, fair, thorough and transparent. Be respectful. Encourage constructive criticism and deliberation. Be friendly, honest and professional at all times.

8 Listen before you talk. Before entering any conversation understand the context. Who are you speaking to? Is there a good reason for you to join the conversation? Write what you know. Make sure you know your facts and always accredit your sources. If you make a mistake, admit it. Be up front and be quick with your correction. Be responsive. When you gain insight, share it where appropriate. These guidelines have been developed and are maintained by the City of Edmonton Corporate Communications Branch.

9 Personal accounts and City business There are important guidelines to follow when using a personal electronic publishing platform or social media account for City business purposes, and promoting it through City mechanisms such as business cards or signatures. The City recognizes there are business advantages (personalized interactions, relationship building) gained by establishing personal social media or e-publishing platforms and using them for business purposes and promoting them through City mechanisms. Whether you are using personal accounts to conduct City business, or using city mechanisms to access personal e-publishing platforms or social media, the same rules apply. All content must conform to the City s standards for conduct. NEVER communicate personal or confidential information without authorization NEVER represent personal opinions as those of the City (or department, branch, etc.) As well, the business purpose for those accounts and platforms should be clearly understood, and the resources necessary to properly support them provided, by the appropriate business area manager. The content and substance of the accounts and platforms must support the business. Before using a personal platform or account for City business purposes you must: get explicit written approval from the appropriate business area manager notify the City s Web Office and Corporate Communications ensure that you clearly identify yourself as a City employee when using the account.

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