1. Be credible
Be accurate, fair, thorough and transparent.
2. Be consistent
Encourage constructive criticism and deliberation. Be cordial, honest and professional at all times.
3. Be responsive
When you gain insight, share it where appropriate.
4. Be integrated
Wherever possible, align online participation with other offline communications.
5. Be a civil servant
Remember that you are an ambassador for your organisation. Wherever possible, disclose your position as a representative of your department or agency.
… and if we were doing a GoC version, I would add: be bilingual.
More seriously though, it’s really simple isn’t it? However, when it comes to the web, a lot of people who I have talked to at work are so focused on the technology (“its all so new and changing too fast – that’s scary”) that they miss the idea that participating online is really not much different from being involved in things like conferences or meetings. Or frankly, talking on the phone or via email with clients or stakeholders. Like the list says, how you communicate online should be integrated with how you communicate offline.
The disclosure thing is key – if you are a bureaucrat and you are making an edit to a Wikipedia entry or posting a comment on a blog, identify yourself up front. The optics of anonymity are bad enough for private citizens, but they are magnified for public servants.
The GoC is also working on guidelines to help Canadian bureaucrats navigating the social web – see Mike Kujawski’s summary of the recent Marcom 2008 conference, under the header “Applying Social Media to a Public Sector Environment:”
Presented by the man [Jeff Braybrook at Treasury Board Secretariat] who whose team is responsible for developing the policies governing social media usage in the public sector. Bottom line: The Federal government is currently rolling out policies for internal usage of social media (e.g. Creating an internal social network application to replace GEDS [the GoC telephone directory] and using wikis to create project/initiative communities). As for everybody’s main concern (i.e Social Media policies for communicating with Canadians), the CIO Branch is working as hard as possible to get these out ASAP.
I didn’t get to see this presentation in person, but I’ve seen the slides. Money quote – “Expectation of professional and courteous behaviour is not new and not a function of the media or venue.” That is – the policies and standards that are already in place for civil servants are enough to cover our participation in the social web.
What this more of less says to me is that we don’t really need any new rules at all. But to provide a touchstone for nervous civil servants unfamiliar with social media and social networks (like my boss or yours), I’m all for having an “official” playbook. I’m looking forward to have something I can point to that will help reassure my colleagues and superiors that it’s OK for us to be in the social Web too.