Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
An MMA webinar today showcased how to use social media as a tool to communicate and engage with local communities while complying with the unique legal and ethical requirements imposed on municipal officials.
Sean Dugan, the director of communications and special projects in Lexington, opened the session by highlighting the benefits of using social media to increase awareness of community programs, build trust with constituents, and gather feedback.
Brianna Sunryd, the director of communications and civic innovation in Amherst, discussed the importance of developing a social media strategy with clear objectives and the intended audience. She identified the most popular social channels and the general user demographics for each, and reviewed what to consider when selecting a platform to use.
Internal policies should address the personal use of social media by appointed and elected officials and include a protocol for launching new social media accounts, Sunryd said. External policies should establish acceptable guidelines for public use and include disclosures regarding the preservation of content for public records law compliance.
Dugan offered high-level tips for social media policies, such as making them available on municipal websites and social accounts and having a clear process for providing access to municipal employees and officials for posting on official municipal accounts. He said it’s important for key municipal leaders to have a listing of login information for all official municipal social accounts.
Attorney Ann Marie Noonan of Valerio, Dominello & Hillman explored best practices related to the broad legal considerations of social media for governing bodies, starting with the public records and open meeting laws. Dugan said it’s a best practice to retain records with the help of social media archiving tools.
Noonan said public officials must be careful not to use municipal social media in ways that may create a conflict of interest or expose legally protected information.
Noonan and Sunryd reviewed how to assess threats made on social media, knowing when to intervene and how to respond, while preserving objectionable content using screen captures or archiving tools.
North Andover Town Manager Melissa Murphy-Rodrigues moderated 20 minutes of questions and answers. Attendees asked about archiving posts, the use of in-house communications staff, and personal use of social media by appointed and elected officials.
• Best Practices for Using Social Media in Municipal Government presentation (660K PDF)