Saturday, October 26, 2013

The important elements of the USA social media guideline.

The important elements of the USA social media guideline.
I am submitting this blog with a view to share the summary of the guideline posted by the USA government with my colleagues in the class. The important and beautiful elements I found in the guideline are follows.
The guidelines make the following assumptions about the user employee, as a representative of USA government.
• You want to improve people’s lives by making government information easy to find, access, and use.
• You can write in plain language.
• You are familiar with our social media channels (currently Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr) and understand the basic differences between them.
• You know you can always talk to your supervisor or the officially nominated person.
Guiding Principle
USA government wants to help people to find, understand, and benefit from government information. Everything they do is motivated by this principle.  “People” means anyone who is looking to “the government” for guidance, news, emergency information, and help accomplishing government tasks.
You cannot assume they know which agency, program, or level of government can help them. It is our job to help them find their way.  
Content is what we talk about. It refers to the topics of our messages, the words we write in our messages, and the links we recommend to our audience.
Our content should be:
• Useful, relevant, and/or interesting
• Easy to understand
• Unbiased
• Portable
• Lightweight
Respect our audience’s valuable time and attention and seek to share content that is some variation of useful, relevant, and interesting.
When sharing content, ask yourself: Is this something that…
• Someone can apply to improve their lives right now?
• will help someone make a better decision?
• You would share with your own friends and family?
• Is relevant to a wide audience?
Another good way to tell if you’re sharing good content is if you’re learning things and having fun!
Easy to understand
The content we share is only helpful if people can understand it. Look for sources that communicate information directly, clearly, and rapidly. Focus on clear content about complicated topics such as scientific research and health issues.
Some government policies and programs are controversial, but you need to be as unbiased as possible. Check with someone else if you think the content you’re sharing might be biased or too controversial—particularly content about politically sensitive topics.
Write messages that make sense in any context—this makes our content portable, shareable, and helpful to any one no matter where they encounter it.
Be mindful of people using mobile devices or with slow Internet connections. In general, link only to HTML-based pages. Avoid sharing flash-heavy sites and linking directly to PDFs, audio, or video files. For instance, you can link to a video page on YouTube, because the page is based on HTML and users have the option to play the video or not. On the other hand, linking directly to a large video file creates a poor user experience. If you have to link directly to something other than HTML, warn users by putting the file.
 A note on “official” content:
We need to preserve our brand’s reputation as a source of official government information. Everything we post should be based on official government information. As needed, it’s ok to occasionally share links to unofficial content as long as it is clearly based on official government information and meets the above guidelines. Check with someone when sharing unofficial content.
If content refers to what we say, then voice refers to how we say it. Our voice should communicate our desire to help people and is defined by our word choice, tone, punctuation and anything else that influences the personality and style of our messages. Our voice must be clear. Write in plain language and use proper grammar and spelling. It’s not the end of the world if our grammar isn’t perfect (in case we need to condense things for Twitter), but we’re not doing our job if people can’t understand us.
Two things to note:
• Do not assume that our audience is familiar with any government acronyms other than FBI, CIA, IRS, or NASA.
• Avoid social media syntax and jargon. Our social media audience isn’t all social media experts, and hash tags can be confusing to people.
Remember, we represent the official web portal of the U.S. government. As long as we choose our content carefully, we can write confidently, knowing that we’re providing reliable information. If we’re talking about something important like an emergency, we should sound serious and be direct. Being official doesn’t mean we have to sound formal or use fancy words (in fact, we shouldn’t), but we should avoid slang and we should never sound sarcastic. Our audience expects to be treated courteously and with respect.
Our voice should communicate that we’re a group of nice people who want to help. A few tips to sound friendly and approachable:
• Write like a human. If your writing sounds robotic, try to fix it.
• It’s ok to use exclamation points! But not all the time! And never use more than one exclamation point at once!!
• Speak to people, and not about them. Refer to our audience as “you,” not “Americans,” “citizens,” “constituents,” or “consumers.”
• Refer to our team as “We” whenever it makes sense.
Purposeful Remember, again, we represent the official web portal of the U.S. government. Our brand benefits when we use social media to do good work. Social media is fun, and we should have fun using it, but our mission to help people should always be evident.
We do not want people to visit one of our social media outlets and perceive that we’re wasting tax dollars by being silly.
If you are an admin of any of our social media accounts, you can use social media to talk with our audience, answer questions, and explain things. When engaging people on social media:
• Be direct
• Be honest
• Be real
Be direct
Most of the time, answers to people’s questions are easy—we can help them right away by writing a simple comment or by sending them a link. Apply our content guidelines when finding sources for answers.
If a question is unclear, answer the question as you understand it and invite the person to follow up if they need more help.
Be honest
Sometimes we can’t find answers to people’s questions. In these moments, remember: we can’t always help, but we can always communicate that we want to.
If we cannot answer the question (such as personal questions or very complicated questions), ask the person to contact the appropriate agency or the national contact centre. It’s ok to apologize if we can’t answer them straightaway.
Be real
Provide real answers that really help. When answering a question, ask yourself if you would find your answer helpful or satisfying. Some people use social media outlets to post rants or harass other users. Do not engage them.
Have fun, be human, have a sense of humour. It’s okay to make a mistake or not know the answer. As long as you focus is on helping people, you’re doing it right.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Since we are all working on our social media project, I think, it would be useful to all.

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