Social Media in Government: How to Handle a Mishap Page 3 of 10
1. Purpose and scope
This guide is designed to help Government agencies when responding to a social media mishap. Theaim is to provide guidance when social media “goes horribly wrong” – such as when a message ismisinterpreted or when there is backlash from a social media community. Such mishaps can causedamage to your online reputation and need to be managed carefully. Because of the speed of the socialmedia space as compared to traditional media, you‟ll need new approaches, judgements and responsesto work through such issues.This document starts with the Business as Usual (BAU) activities you should undertake to provide acertain amount of prevention, as well as an early warning system, of an impending issue.It then details guidelines for dealing with an event before moving into post-event analysis, which is your opportunity to review and amend processes and procedures as necessary.Finally, the guide gives some tips on what should be done after the event in order to move forward.
This guide should be read alongside the previously published „Social Media in Government‟ documentspublished by the Department of Internal Affairs –including the „High Level Guidance‟ and the„Hands-on Toolbox‟.
The „High-level Guidance‟ document takes youthrough issues that need to be considered beforeyour agency begins using social media. It offersinformation to help with benefit and riskassessment and, finally, a business case templatedesigned to stimulate thinking around key areasthat need to be considered when planning to usesocial media.The „Hands-on Toolbox‟ document has beenwritten to help practitioners who are setting upsocial media profiles and using the tools on adaily basis. It has been written for public servantswith limited experience using social media, butalso offers tools and tips that will be useful for those practitioners who have been using socialmedia for some time.Together, these „Social Media in Government‟ documents will help those willing to engage with targetaudiences through social media, and to take positive action that will benefit their agency.
2. Types of mishaps
There is a range of potential social media challenges that Government agencies may face.
– Abuse directed at the agency or an individual at the agency.
– The release of information prior to its official release.