Tuesday, July 28, 2009

U.K. Government Issues Official Twitter Guide For Employees

July 28, 2009 | by Christopher Nickson

U.K. Government Issues Official Twitter Guide For Employees

The British government has issued an official guide on using Twitter for staff, but at 20 pages it would take 259 Tweets to transmit.

In the UK, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has written an official guide for using the department's corporate Twitter account. Twitter, of course, is the micro-blogging service where messages can’t be longer than 140 characters. The guide, on the other hand, runs to 20 pages, which, the Guardian calculates, is the equivalent of 259 separate Tweets.

Head of corporate channels, Neil Williams, who authored the guide, said:

"I was surprised by just how much there was to say and quite how worth saying it is."

The guide suggests spending under an hour a day running department Twitter streams. It should be presaged by a discussion of possible Tweets at morning meetings, and e-mails to ministers’ offices for more material. It also suggests "insights from ministers" and "updates on their movements" in a light style. But the guide does realize the Big Brother problem that might follow in government departments following other Twitter users:

“However, once anyone does follow a Whitehall Twitter stream it recommends they should automatically be "followed back" on the grounds that it is not only good etiquette, but could result in a poor Twitter reputation if not done and in extreme cases could lead to the account being suspended.”

This being government, of course, everything has to be approved for release first, including Tweets.

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