5th July 2023
Social media policy
How we manage and monitor social media
The Communications, Engagement and Marketing (CEM) team manages the council’s corporate social media accounts and liaises with those services currently operating separate accounts such as countryside services, libraries and community engagement.
The corporate accounts are:
Acceptable use and site rules for the public
We require that all those commenting on our social media channels:
- Are civil and polite
- Avoid posting any message that is unlawful, libellous, harassing, defamatory, abusive, threatening, harmful, obscene, profane, sexually oriented or otherwise offensive
- Are not be abusive about any individual, including council staff and elected councillors
- Avoid posting content copied from elsewhere for which they do not own the copyright
- Do not discriminate against certain parts of our communities
- Do not post the same message, or very similar messages, more than once
- Do not post comments or questions that are not relevant to the original post
- Do not publicise their, or anyone else's, personal information, e.g. contact details
- Do not advertise products or services
- Do not impersonate someone else
- Do not post spam or post off-topic content (persistent negative and/or abusive posts in which the aim is to provoke a response)
Do not seek to promote the views or opinions of a particular political party
We will remove, in whole or in part, posts that we feel contravene these rules. Anybody repeatedly contravening them will be blocked and/or reported to the associated social media platform or other authority. We will not tolerate or respond to abusive messages.
We will remain politically neutral at all times on social media which is why council officers are unable to reply to, endorse or engage with, any content that is of a party political nature. If you wish to discuss political issues, please contact your local councillor.
How we will use social media
Social media is a powerful communications tool and can bring many benefits but not all social channels are appropriate for all messages or information.
The CEM team will decide on what social media content to issue based on:
- The alignment to our corporate priorities
- The match between the target audiences for the message and the demographic make-up of the social media channels’ users
- The urgency and importance of the message to potential recipients
- The potential contribution to our overall reputation and social media reach
Social media is the window into the council for an increasing number of our residents and, as such, the aesthetic quality, consistent tone and overall appearance are vital in enhancing the council's reputation.
In addition, social media is a competitive world, with many different sources of news and entertainment trying to get people’s attention.
For this reason, there is a need to provide eye-catching material that grabs and retains attention long enough to impart the information required.
Tone of voice
Social media is by its nature communal, so the council will be warmer, more engaging and relaxed in its tone of voice than with other communications.
CEM officers will follow social media norms such as the use of emojis in order to present the image of a positive, friendly and innovative local authority.
When responding to residents CEM officers will respond in line with the council’s Customer Charter.
This underpins all interactions with customers across the council and emphasises we make it easy for you to interact with us and to have a positive experience when you do.
We promise to:
- Be responsive, friendly and helpful
- Support and care for people as individuals
- Be open, honest and manage expectations
- Get it right first time and build on successes
- Listen, learn and work as one team to resolve issues
The CEM team is responsible for using social media appropriately and must be mindful of the legal implications of inappropriate use, in particular, when posting content, the team will be mindful of:
- defamation (ie libel)
- discrimination and victimisation
- human rights
- protection from harassment
- criminal law and the administration of justice
- data protection
- breaches of confidence
Sharing and retweeting
We will only share or retweet information that the CEM team believe will be of interest or of use to residents and comes from reputable, non-political organisations.
The decision to share or retweet will be based on alignment with the council’s corporate priorities.
Times of monitoring
Social media channels will be monitored from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays. Content will be posted outside these hours and then moderated as required during the normal monitoring hours
During emergencies the council may respond and provide information via our social media channels outside these hours as part of our response to the situation we are dealing with.
What residents can expect from our social media
Our social media will be
- Friendly, polite and honest
- Visually attractive and engagingly written
- Responsive to legitimate, reasonable questions that are seeking information of value to the general public
- Aligned to our corporate priorities
We will use social media to
- Publicise our news, events and decisions
- Support our campaigns that are in line with our priorities
- Provide information about service changes and any disruptions
- Repeat information from trusted sources which is of use to residents
- Enhance the reputation of the local authority and local democracy
We will not use social media to:
- Engage in personal conversations
- Debate our decisions and policies
- Provide an alternative route for complaints or questions that can be directed to customer delivery
- Provide an emergency or out-of-hours response
- Support any specific political view or party
Responding to negative comments and complaints
The CEM team will respond to legitimate questions on social media (provided they are in line with guidance on acceptable use) but social media channels are not a replacement for complaint procedures and complaints to services should be made via the council’s website.
Our social media channels are not designed as a way to report issues to us. To report issues online use our contact us page.
Our responses will be polite, helpful and as prompt as possible.
We will use responses to answer questions that are seeking information of value to the general public, address simple (non-personal) issues, correct misinformation or signpost people to further support.
We will also use social media to apologise if service has been genuinely deficient.
We will not use social media to engage in prolonged discussion of issues, to respond to specific complaints or as a replacement for the online contact us page.
What if we get something wrong or misleading information is published on our channels
If we make a mistake that results in incorrect information being published on our social media, or if incorrect information is published in a third party comment, we will try to correct or retract and remove this information at the earliest possible opportunity.
We cannot be held responsible for incorrect information being published that we are not aware of. However, if we can remove or correct we will do so in a timely manner or request that this is done.