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Do You Know Your District’s Social Media Policy and Guidelines?

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By Lucy Sears

With 3,000 conservation districts across the country, there’s no shortage of success stories, district updates and more. Many districts use some form of social media channel (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and/or LinkedIn) to share what they’re up to.

As an employee, you are probably familiar with the type of content your district posts and shares, but did you know that your district may have specific guidelines for posting content? Do you know who in your district has administrative responsibilities/roles when it comes to posting content?

NACD recently created a Social Media Guidelines and Best Practices document meant to assist districts and board members in best social media practices when it comes to posting content and engaging online. These guidelines will help districts either create their own social media policy or build on and strengthen their existing policy. Establishing a social media policy for your conservation district’s social media channels is important in maintaining a consistent brand and image.

Did you know? There are several important questions to consider when it comes to developing a social media policy for your district:

  • What is the process for posting content on a district-sponsored social media account?
  • What existing modes of communications does your district have? How do your social media channels engage/interact with these other modes of communication?
  • Who are your main audiences right now, and who do you need to reach in the future?

Once you have answered these questions, you can move onto the next step: develop ground rules. By establishing what type of content will and will not be allowed on your social media accounts, your district can better determine how each social media channel will be used and what the rules are regarding content. Below are some helpful ground rules you can establish for your district:

  • Avoid sharing or posting personal information, including opinions that do not reflect your district as a whole.
  • Post content that only helps further your district’s mission in engaging and informing audiences. Determine your district’s main messaging goals in order to ensure content follows and adheres to them.
  • Maintain a consistent style/brand for posting content. As a district, determine and follow agreed-upon brand standards and guidelines. This should be considered when using logos, designing graphics or banners, and original posts relating to a specific event or theme.

It’s important to consider the purpose of your district’s social media accounts and how you want to use them to inform and engage your audience. For each channel, consider how it supports your district’s message, and how you will interact with specific audiences. Below are some tips on how to engage your audience across different social media platforms:

  • Keep it short when possible. Similar to press releases, address the “who, what, where, when, why,” while avoiding too much background summary and information.
  • Use popular hashtags when possible, such as #Conservation, #DistrictsAtWork. Using hashtags help categorize posts, as well as help others find your district.
  • Tag accounts and pages whenever possible (including @NACDConserve). This notifies them that your district has mentioned them in a post, increasing engagement and awareness of your district’s work.

NACD’s goal is to represent conservation districts across the nation, which includes highlighting the work of districts and keeping members informed on their activities. NACD encourages districts to share our social media posts, blogs and website content whenever possible. You can also check out NACD’s Flickr page for available photos and graphics to download and use on your social media accounts. Be sure to take photos at events or out in the field to send to NACD for us to share with our members.

Check out NACD’s full guide on our Members Only webpage.

“Did You Know?” is produced by NACD’s District Operations and Member Services Committee and is distributed in eResource on the last Tuesday of each month. To access recent editions of “Did You Know?” click here.

“Did You Know?” recommendations and observations may not apply to all states. NACD’s DO/MS Committee requests your understanding. We also invite you to find out what your state and local laws and policies say about any particular item.

Lucy Sears is the Communications Coordinator for the National Association of Conservation Districts. You can reach her at lucy-sears[at]nacdnet.org or 202-547-6223.

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