Updated Social Media Policy Prepares County for Future Changes

Author: Human Resources
Date: 1/22/2020 1:03 PM

The County has an updated policy that will help the local government adapt to social media changes in the future.

On Jan. 14, 2020, the County Board of Supervisors adopted the new policy, which clarifies expectations for public servants’ use of and conduct on social media. It also gives department directors more flexibility to manage department social media presence as social media platforms change in the future.


“Social networks are constantly changing, and it can sometimes be difficult to follow seven pages of rules, which is the length of the previous social media policy,” said County Communications and Social Media Analyst Whitney Szentesi. “This new two-page policy clearly sets expectations and intent while making it easier for employees, volunteers and elected officials to follow. This update also allows us to be nimble as social networks change in the future.”


The County uses social media as part of its public information efforts to engage residents, inform constituents about important issues, shine a light on impactful public services and programs the County provides and supports, and build and maintain symbiotic relationships with the people we serve. The updated policy provides clear expectations for employees, volunteers, and contractors regarding how use social media on behalf of the County. The updated policy also identifies intent rather than specific rules about how social media accounts are managed, allowing County departments to better adapt to social media changes outside of the County’s control.


While there are no anticipated fiscal impacts with the adoption of this updated policy, several groups reviewed it and contributed to its changes. The County’s social media committee (a committee of representatives from all County departments who operate social media pages), department directors, and the employee associations were all in support of the changes to this policy.


More people across the nation are using social media as part of their daily lives than ever before. Most adults in the United States visit social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube at least daily, and many even use those social networks several times a day, according to a nationwide Pew Research Center survey conducted earlier this year.


The County’s Social Media Policy was originally created and adopted in 2012. Although this policy was cutting edge for government at the time, it has since become difficult to follow due to unforeseen social network changes outside of the County’s control. The policy was very specific and placed many constrains on how County employees can manage content and accounts. As a result, many of the rules governing the former policy were no longer relevant or even applicable to the use of social networks today.


The County maintains countywide policies to comply with legal statutes, define appropriate employee conduct and support the County’s organizational values. Policies must be updated periodically to ensure that they support the organizational goals of the County and comply with changing legal statutes.


Do you manage or contribute to the County’s social media accounts? If so, visit our Social Media Resource Center for helpful tips, templates and training documents.