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Polco News & Knowledge

Coffee-Break Webinar: Handling Internet Negativity & Elements of an Effective Local Government Social Media Policy

- Webinar Show Notes -


Show Notes

  • Speaker, Angelica Wedell leads the marketing and business development efforts at National Research Center, Inc.  She has worked in the field of Digital Communications for more than eight years.
  • Local Governments have different considerations for Internet use than do private businesses.  This webinar identifies common sources of Internet negativity, how to deal with them and what should be included in a local government social media policy.
  • Though often commenting negatively, Critics may express legitimate concerns.  Make sure to address their concerns timely.
  • Trolls are just attention seekers.  They may have nothing to do with your jurisdiction.
  • Haters act proactively, to push through their agendas.  Dismissing them can lead to legal ramifications.
  • Always beware Scammers.  They pose a cyber-security threat to you and your audiences.
  • When dealing with Internet negativity and criticisms, don’t take it personally.  Take it professionally.  Remain objective and dispassionate when responding.
  • Handling Critics: It’s best to respond.  Now is your chance to debunk rumors and correct misinformation.
  • Handling Trolls: It’s best to ignore or hide them.  Let them seek attention elsewhere.
  • Handling Haters:  Be transparent, accurate and consistent in your responses.  Never resort to libel or slander, even if they do.
  • Handling Scammers:  Block and delete them immediately.  Train staff regularly on cyber-security policies.
  • Elements of an Effective Local Government Social Media Policy.
    • Have clear employee guidelines.  Detail who is authorized to post on official government social sites.  Let them know what content is acceptable and what is not.  Also consider their personal social media pages.
    • Make sure to include elected officials.  Consider open meeting laws.
    • Let the public know your comment policy and notify them that posts and comments are subject to public records disclosure.  Tell them the hours you are active, if you moderate, and what types of posts will be removed.
    • Publish your social media policy to your Website and link to it in your social media profiles.
  • Pro-tip:  If you don’t want your boss or your grandmother to see it, don’t post it!
  • Remember that nothing can really be removed from the Internet.  Everything lives in cyber space forever.
  • Don’t forget to engage with your supporters.
  • A citizen survey is a great way to help you cultivate positivity on the Web.  Give your residents a way to give you constructive feedback.  Don’t force them to communicate all their negative criticisms on Facebook.

Questions and Answers

Q.  With the exception of Trolls and Scammers, should we respond to all comments?

A.  While it is best to respond in general, your individual organization will have situations and needs that are unique. You will want to consider your resources (do you have staff and moderators available to respond to all comments?)  Also, avoid getting into a comment war.  If you have already responded, you don’t have to respond multiple times.  At NRC, we usually will respond on the comments no more than twice.

Q.  According to our current social media policy, any employees in our organization can post on our official government social media page. Would you recommend this?

A.  This is fine to allow. Just make sure that all staff is aware of and trained on your organization’s social media policy guidelines and social media strategy.  It’s a good idea to make sure that at least one person is overseeing posting on a regular basis.

Q.  If Scammers target us, what steps can we take to protect ourselves and our audiences?

A.  First make sure that your cyber-security has not been compromised. If you are concerned, change all passwords immediately.  Notify all staff and ensure that they are trained on organization technology and security policies.  Alert your audiences, especially if there is any potential risk to them.  Encourage them to protect their own digital data.  Consider publishing a scam alert and distributing that message across all your channels of communication.

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