GUIDELINES FOR SOCIAL MEDIA PARTICIPATION AT MILTONVALE PARK
– Approved October 25, 2011
A social networking presence has become a hallmark of vibrant and transparent communications. Social networking improves interactivity with the public, and it reaches populations that do not consume traditional media as frequently as others do. All communication tools should be used in ways that maximize transparency, maintain the security of the network, and are appropriately professional. Social media is no exception. Therefore, the application of social media must be done thoughtfully and in a manner that will minimize risk.
These guidelines apply to Miltonvale Park employees, contractors or Councillors who create or contribute to blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds, or any other kind of social media such as comment on online media stories.
While Miltonvale Park employees and Council are welcome to participate in social media, they are expected to follow these simple but important guidelines. Our overall goal is simple: to participate online in a respectful, relevant way that protects our reputation, shares pertinent information, engages our residents, and follows the letter and spirit of the law.
- Be transparent and state that you work at/govern Miltonvale Park. If you are writing about Miltonvale Park or another municipality or municipal issue, use your real name, identify that you are affiliated with Miltonvale Park, and be clear about your role. If you have a vested interest in what you are discussing, be the first to say so.
- Never represent yourself or Miltonvale Park in a false or misleading way. All statements must be true and not misleading; all claims must be substantiated.
- Post meaningful, respectful comments — no spam, no profanity, and no remarks that are off-topic or offensive, and no copyright violations.
- Use common sense and common courtesy: for example, do not report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to Miltonvale Park. Always consider whether it is appropriate to post an opinion, commit oneself or the Community to a course of action, or discuss areas outside of one’s expertise. If there is any question or hesitation regarding the content of a potential comment or post, it is better not to post.
- Stick to your area of expertise and do feel free to provide unique, individual perspectives on non-confidential activities at Miltonvale Park.
- When disagreeing with others’ opinions, keep it appropriate and polite. If you find yourself in a situation online that looks as if it’s becoming antagonistic, do not get overly defensive and do not disengage from the conversation abruptly: feel free to ask the Administrator or Chair for advice and/or to disengage from the dialogue in a polite manner that reflects well on Miltonvale Park.
- If you want to write about the Community, other municipalities or other organizations or people, make sure you behave diplomatically, have the facts straight and that you have the appropriate permissions. Be accurate. Ensure that any content you publish is factually accurate. If you do make an error, clearly acknowledge it and correct it quickly.
- Please never comment on anything related to legal matters, litigation, or any parties Miltonvale Park may be in litigation with.
- Never participate in social media when the topic being discussed may be considered a crisis situation. Even anonymous comments may be traced back to your or Miltonvale Park’s IP address. Refer all social media activity around crisis topics to the Administrator, who will consult with the Chair.
- Be smart about protecting yourself, your privacy, and Miltonvale Park’s confidential information. What you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully. Google has a long memory.
NOTE: Mainstream media inquiries must be referred to the Chair.
Adapted from http://www.shiftcomm.com/downloads/socialmediaguidelines.pdf , http://www.mrsc.org/Govdocs/M58NCSocMed.pdf and http://www.calgary.ca/CS/CSC/Documents/Aboutus/City%20of%20Calgary%20Social%20Media%20Guidelines.pdf
Type of Postings We Encourage: Community events, meetings, celebrations, birthdays, and information that would be of interest to our residents and friends -such as public service announcements, lost and found notices, job opportunities eg. Baby sitting/snow clearing/ occasional driver@) or business sales or information relating to businesses located in the community, and private commercial activity@. as long as it is not illegal or immoral! Details of political and religious events pertinent to the community may be posted; but we discourage other messages that are political or religious in nature.
Events: Community events will be posted by the Administrator, Chair or Chair of the Environment and Community Living Committee – councillors can link events to their personal Facebook© or social media pages.
Accounts and Passwords: The administrator will create accounts and maintain a list of social networking sites and passwords in use, and the Councillors and staff who have access to them. Passwords should be changed at regular intervals, as well as when staff and councillors change. Do not share the password for community accounts and do not use the same passwords for personal and Community social networking.
Branding: To accomplish the goal of speaking with one voice, all Community of Miltonvale Park social media accounts must clearly identify that they are official communications channels of the Community. The Community logo should be used to representing the account.
Removal of Comments: Miltonvale Park will not accept/post inappropriate comments. The administrator should remove all comments that:
- are spam
- aggressively promote or advertise websites, businesses or personal sites
- contain threatening, offensive, hateful or defamatory content
- contain copyrighted material
- provide non-published or confidential information about Miltonvale Park or its employees and council such as home phone numbers or addresses
Editing: Posts may be returned for editing if they don’t meet the policy; however, comments would not be edited by moderator.
Tone: Content should be written in a corporate casual tone, minimizing overly emotional language, tone and punctuation. Social media content should not contain emoticons, social media acronyms and jargon (such as LOL, BTW, IIRC, etc) or shortened text prevalent in SMS messaging (B4, 2nite, 4U, etc).
Monitoring: The administrator would monitor the account, generally on a daily basis.
Comments: Similar to making comments to the traditional media, employees and Council should respond to social media comments only if they are a designated and approved spokesperson for that project, issue or initiative. The administrator would most often be expected to respond, to “low level” queries regarding events, and requests for normal information. The Chair (or designate) would respond to, or approve the response prepared for more “high level” issues.
Photos: Permission should be obtained to use photos of people on social networking sites. Ideally, permission would be in writing, but in events such as Canada Day, the prominent posting of a statement such as “Photos taken by Council and staff of the Community may be used by the Community of Miltonvale Park on its website or social marketing. If you do not wish to be photographed, please inform the Council.”
Personal Use: Employees and councillors should never use the Miltonvale Park e-mail account or password in conjunction with a personal social networking site. During normal business hours, employees may use personal social networking for limited family or personal communications so long as those communications do not interfere with their work.
Log Out: Remember to log out of your session to maintain security. Note: Facebook has a remote session kill button under Account Settings – Security, it gives a list of active sessions, which can be logged out remotely, if you accidentally forgot to log out of a computer, which you no longer can access.
Public Records: Like e-mail, communication via social networking websites is a public record. Include the following statement (or some version of it) somewhere on the social networking website: Representatives of Miltonvale Park Council communicate via this website; consequently any communication via this site (whether by an employee, councillor or the general public) may be subject to monitoring and disclosure to third parties.