Government publishes Twitter rules of engagement

The UK government has published a guide explaining why and how public sector bodies should use Twitter.

The UK government has published a guide explaining why and how public sector bodies should use Twitter.

The 20-page document is available on the Cabinet Office website.

The government is joining businesses, including banks, in harnessing Twitter to communicate with customers effectively.

The government is encouraging MPs and civil servants to use the microblogging website, which allows users to post 140-character messages in real time.

Neil Williams, head of corporate digital channels at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), said microblogging has low barriers to entry.

He said he was surprised about how much there is to say about Twitter and "how worth saying it is", especially now the platform is more mature and less forgiving of mistakes.

The document said the BIS Digital Media Team will be "responsible for sourcing and publishing tweets as coordinating replies to incoming messages and monitoring the account". This activity is expected to take less than an hour a day.

The government said it wants to use Twitter to:

  • Extend the reach of existing corporate messages online (eg, news, speeches, web updates, YouTube videos) by building relationships with relevant audiences including intermediaries, stakeholders, and key influencers such as journalists and bloggers.
  • Provide an informal, "human" voice of the organisation to promote comprehension of and engagement with our corporate messages
  • Provide thought leadership and credibility, increasing our visibility as the experts in our remit within the online space
  • In line with government policy (Digital Britain; Cabinet Office Digital Engagement policy and Power of Information) demonstrate commitment to and understanding of digital channels with exemplary use of this emerging channel
  • Provide an additional, low-barrier method for audiences to interact with the Department to provide feedback, seek help and suggest ideas
  • Monitor mentions on Twitter of our brand, our Ministers and flagship policy initiatives, engaging with our critics and key influencers to resolve problems/dissatisfaction and correct factual inaccuracies, and with satisfied customers to thank them for and amplify their positive comments
  • Provide live coverage of events (such as policy launches, summits or promotions) for those who cannot attend."

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