Thursday, July 28, 2016

Social media and the wild, wild west

Social media and the use of technology have become so commonplace in our lives, it’s easy to forget that it’s a wild, wild west landscape out there.

Transparency is a top priority for government, and social media presents lots of options for communicating with the public about government operations and activities. At the recent Annual Meeting, one of the keynote speakers talked about how government can use technology to keep residents engaged and informed.

But government has a particular challenge in dealing with technology and social media - both from the perspective of communicating information out and responding to posts by others. This National League of Cities whitepaper outlines many of these challenges.

The human side of social media and technology use is where local leaders may find the biggest challenge. Digital interactions have become such an ingrained part of our lives, but the line between personal and professional use of technology is continuing to blur. This trend will certainly continue.

That’s where government social media and technology use policies come in. Just as government entities have policies related to workplace behavior like work hours and dress, they should also adopt policies related to technology use. This could cover work-issued and personal devices as well as behavior expectations related to the use of social media.

Not only is it important to create a strategy for social media use, but it’s also important to have guidelines in place so employees have clear expectations about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior when using social media and technology.

Social media and technology policies can include a variety of issues. This Uptown article outlines questions to consider when formulating a policy. The Municipal Association's technology use policy for its staff can be a good example to work from. Also take a look at resources on HR policies regarding technology use, general social media guidelines and law enforcement policies.

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