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Whitehall and Twitter July 29, 2009

Posted by letitiahughes in social media.

So the government have written a guide on Twitter. As a number of news outlets have suggested, it is really quite ironic that while the point of Twitter is brevity, the government official twitter document is 30,000 characters or 259 tweets – I havent reached that number of tweets in total yet.

I suppose in fairness, although Tweets are short, the whole Twitter phenomenon is a lot bigger, especially if you include the plethora of Twitter tools, so a detailed report could be required. What is more, the report talks about how the Government is going to manage its corporate presence on Twitter  – I know lots of other orgnanisations are requiring similar lengthy ”guideline’ conversations at the current time.

The report also says that all departments need to become regular Twitterers, not just Downing Street and the Foreign Office. The report suggests departmental digital teams discuss potential tweets at the morning press cutting meeting. This leaves me hoping that they have not still missed the point, after all it is not just about regurgitating news, but about engaging in relevant conversations.

Another slight mistake may be the stipulations about tweet frequency – some days there may be a requirement for more tweets than the maximum of 10, especially if responding to some tweet questions for example.

More interestingly, the report says that there should be exclusive content online  – such as insights from Ministers on key meetings, and answers to questions from the public. Although I am not sure that we need  to know updates on ministers whereabouts through out the day.

A final point is that uninvited following is discouraged, in fear of being branded Big Brother, but it is apparently acceptable to follow back people once they follow you. I am not so sure about that – I would like to think that if I was saying something that was of interest or important to a Government department, be it DECC or Treasury, that they would just follow me no matter what.

Ok, so what do I think? Well I would say that the report has probably not covered everything, and like all of us, there is always more that can be learnt, but the fact that the effort is being made to engage usefully with Twitter can only be a good thing.


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