Have you ever sat in a meeting and wondered whether you’re allowed to tweet the information you’re hearing? How do you decide when to share on social media or not? Do you know if there is a policy in place? It’s easy to see how confusion can happen, and this week a new initiative has been announced by the Local Government Authority (LGA) to add some clarity to the situation.

From now on a tick will start to appear on local authority communications in the UK as the Social Media Friendly Mark has been launched for any local authority (council) and fire and rescue service to use. Putting the tick on documents such as meeting papers or other communications materials including websites and events will make it clear whether that information can be shared via social media. I think this is a brilliant idea as it should help mark the boundaries and ensure everyone knows what can and can’t be communicated in this way.

A matter of trust
A ‘trust system’ is in place, which expects local authorities using the mark to believe in its ethos; i.e are committed to the use of social media and the LGA will not be monitoring its use. It’s not an accreditation mark for social media use and is solely for UK local government use. Local authorities are not expected to amend any existing marketing collateral or to ‘undertake additional expenditure’ in using the Social Media Friendly Mark.

The LGA says: “We are committed to supporting local government colleagues in realising the full potential of social media. We believe that used correctly, social media is a powerful tool helping to drive cultural, political, economic and social engagement. It is also a key communications tool for local authorities and highlights their commitment to openness and transparency.

“We are keen to demonstrate through practical examples from the sector that using social media in a coordinated and sensible way, as part of a strategic approach to communications, can help enhance the reputation of local government, improve engagement with different elements of the community and drive efficiency. Therefore we would encourage as many local authorities as possible to use the mark as a clear expression of their commitment to the use of social media.”

Can’t argue with that. Put simply, LGA appears to be championing the responsible use of social media and is empowering local authorities to make smart decisions with their information.

I like the fact there are a number of variations of the mark for councils and authorities to choose from, with social networking site logos and different colours. It feels like LGA has really thought about its audience and realised that comms pros would like more than one choice. Congratulations to the people behind this idea as I think it’s a good one.

To find out more about the Social Media Friendly Mark including guidelines and to download the images, see the LGA Knowledge Hub. You can also follow LGA on Twitter @LGAcomms.

Does this affect you? What do you think of the mark?  Will it be a help or hindrance? I think this would be a great idea within other organisations to make it clear whether information can be shared via social media. The lines between internal and external comms continue to blur and I think we’ll see more initiatives like this in the future. I would certainly use and champion it within companies. Do let me know your thoughts by commenting below, Rachel.

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