My thanks to Mike Kujawski at Governing People for reporting on Guideline for External Use of Web 2.0 in the Canadian Government. The guidelines themselves are available, as he points out, on the government website (published 18 November 2011). The UK government published its guidelines some time ago, the US ones are available here along with a range of others, and a further database courtesy of Chris Boudreaux.
One of my colleagues noted that the guidelines are almost a website in themselves, being rather substantial. Whilst I can understand the need for guidelines, much of the guidance within them already exists, as the Canadian ones demonstrate by the links provided to ethical ones and many other government policies as their context becomes appropriate. Will anybody seriously read such a dry and very lengthy web page, without even following the links?
One of the main difficulties in my view is where the responsibility for the maintenance of social media lies. Often media relations people lack the ‘nous’ to use them efficiently, sometimes the web or IT staff take a too dry or technical approach for them to be employed successfully. Some government bodies have transferred the web to a front-facing customer service, which if not sufficiently linked to the media staff or public relations, could also create issues. Similarly staff need to be reminded that comments on Facebook and elsewhere may land them in hot water with their employers, and may even cost them their job, as the recent Apple employee case emphasises!