Strategic Communications

Social Media Policy

The purpose of this policy is to encourage agencies to make greater use of social media and empower public sector staff to use these tools where it assists in improving service delivery.

Guiding Principles

In using social media, agencies should apply the following guiding principles: be open, collaborative, responsive, reliable and appropriate.

Open Use social media to share and promote access to information and services and be transparent and accountable.
Collaborative Create opportunities to listen to and engage with staff, the public, local communities, and industry in community and capacity building, policy design and implementation and service delivery.
Responsive Empower public sector staff to use social media to respond quickly to customers and emerging issues.
Reliable Support a consistent and quality experience.
Appropriate Use social media in a manner that is consistent with public sector values, legal requirements, related policies, and our codes of conduct.

Scope

This policy applies to all officers, consultants, contractors and outsourced service providers performing work for the NSW Government. State Owned Corporations are encouraged to use social media in a manner that is consistent with this policy.

This policy applies to the use of social media accounts for work undertaken for the NSW Government. Staff use of personal accounts is governed by agency acceptable use of technology policies where it affects employee responsibilities. Personal comments made by staff are governed by agency codes of conduct and communications policies.

It is acknowledged that the implementation of social media across agencies will vary according to business needs and service delivery priorities.

Guidelines for Agencies

Detailed guidance for agencies is available in the NSW Government Social Media Policy and Guidelines. This includes a checklist of steps in the development of individual agency social media policies. In developing their own social media polices, agencies should:

  • Create opportunities to listen to and engage with staff, the public and industry in community building, policy discussion and service design;
  • Empower public sector staff to use social media to respond quickly to customers and emerging issues;
  • Support a consistent and quality experience; and
  • Ensure that social media approaches are appropriately resourced and that governance.

Guidelines for Staff

1. Use Official Accounts Proactively and Responsibly 

  • Ensure that you have the appropriate authority to use social media in an official capacity, consistent with your agency’s code of conduct.
  • Be quick to admit and correct mistakes.
  • Respect privacy and confidentiality. Only publish information that is approved to be in the public domain. Acknowledge copyright and attribute the source of material you share.
  • Be a responsible digital citizen. Protect your reputation online and the reputation of your colleagues and your organisation. Be mindful that information posted online is public and permanent.
  • Use social media to work together with your customers, community and colleagues.
  • Be transparent. Identify yourself as an employee of your agency when discussing work-related issues.

2. Use Social Media in a manner consistent with Public Sector Values, Legal Requirements, related policies, and Codes Of Conduct

  • The Public Sector Employment and Management Act 2002 establishes an ethical framework for a merit-based, apolitical and professional public sector that implements the decisions of the Government of the day. The Act outlines core values for the public sector based on the principles of integrity, trust, service and accountability.
  • Make sure you understand the Code of Conduct, and any other relevant policies, for your agency or department. Your conduct online should not adversely reflect on your employer, your colleagues, or yourself as a public sector employee.
  • If you communicate with clients, maintain professional boundaries as you would with other forms of work communication.

Agency Social Media Policy Checklist

Agencies will make arrangements for the implementation of their own social media policy, giving consideration to:

  • Governance, including staff education and training, monitoring, risk assessment, evaluation and policy review.
  • Business operating conditions and allied policies and programs.
  • Privacy, intellectual property and records management.
  • Resourcing for all activities and at all levels of the organisation.
  • Change management.

Below is a checklist of steps in the development of a social media policy.

Planning

  • Determine the existing policies that will be impacted by the introduction of a new social media policy.
  • Identify the communication and engagement goals for the organisation, and design indicators for measuring success against these.
  • Identify and research the target audience.
  • Include a risk assessment to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the intended approach.
  • Research similar approaches that may be relevant to the organisation. Agencies can refer to DPC's Social Media Policy as an example.
  • Scope set-up and ongoing requirements including human and financial resources.
  • Evaluate and install products.

Implementation

  • Establish a governance model for content development and account management.
  • Define roles and responsibilities.
  • Develop terms of use and determine the appropriate level of engagement. These may include hours of operation, response times, moderation actions, and privacy guidelines.
  • Communicate the policy to organisation staff.
  • Provide authorised staff with training in the use of social media.

Management

  • Adopt the guiding principles outlined in the NSW Government Social Media Policy document.
  • Evaluate and report on the agency’s use of social media.
  • Promote social media accounts.
  • Keep appropriate records and manage the account lifecycle.
  • Integrate social media with other communications and customer service channels.

Policy Version 1 - May 2013

For additional guidance, a resource library of social media policies from other jurisdictions is provided on the Social Media Resources page.