Lessons in social media policy from the EPA

When social media tools and techniques are applied to government communications, agencies are able to meet the obligation of transparency and “open books” initiatives in ways that were impossible to imagine just a few years ago.

One of the tricky things about overseeing social media initiatives is introducing tried and true marketing, public relations, and editorial techniques into a realm that is chaotic, unpredictable, and often unforgiving to missteps.

As if that wasn’t challenging enough, government transparency increasingly is becoming the responsibility of staffers from a variety of disciplines and positions outside of public relations; Web developers, writers, editors, and content managers all play a large roll. Where we once created static documents and pitched media, our jobs are expanding toward not only spurring discussion, but also participating in it.

A strong social media plan and policy is critical to success.

Jeff Levy, director of Web communications at the EPA’s Office of Public Affairs, was kind enough to share with me his agency’s social media policy.

Jeff’s shop has developed a terrific flow-chart that adds a visual methodology of determining when and how to participate in online discussions. Also check out the EPA’s social media guidelines. Both documents are well worth examining.

Kudos to Jeff and his team at the EPA.

Flow Chart

Interim Guidance Representing EPA Online FInal

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