FAO and Twitter
Twitter – found at www.twitter.com – is a “micro-blogging” tool that lets users send out short (140 characters) posts to the Internet and mobile devices.
Twitter can be used in many ways. It can be a monitoring tool used for gathering information or tracking trends, as a messaging system for coordinating action among dispersed team members, or as a PR vehicle – to reach new audiences, build relationships with journalists or conduct viral marketing campaigns.
FAO’s presence on Twitter
Currently, FAO maintains the following FAO Twitter accounts as primary channels for communicating and engaging with the general public on issues with broad appeal and that span the range of the Organization’s activities:
- @faonews – FAO’s primary “PR stream” on Twitter (managed by OCC)
- @faoknowledge - promotion of FAO's knowledge products such as recent publications, presentations, videos, events, etc. (managed by OCC)
Additional Twitter accounts focused on specific themes, areas of work, or regions are maintained by various programme entities and units, including decentralized offices, a practice that is encouraged by this policy provided the guidelines it contains are adhered to. All FAO-affiliated accounts are listed here.
FAO’s policy on Twitter
For the Organization
In general, there are two main types of accounts that can be formally affiliated with a business or an organization such as FAO:
- company-sponsored “logo” accounts such as @faonews that represent an entire organization and are not overtly associated with any one personality, and
- individual corporate accounts that identify the person running the account and are formally affiliated with an organization.
Twitter, like most social networks, often blurs the line between employees’ personal and professional lives. The purpose of this policy is to lay out some basic “rules of the road” that address the “blur issue” and help employees feel comfortable in their use of Twitter.
FAO-affiliated accounts should use the current authorized version of the FAO corporate emblem in compliance with emblem usage guidelines – contact OCC or advice or assistance.
Before establishing an FAO-affiliated account, please meet with OCC to register the account, agree on the account’s name, and receive a briefing on Twitter. You should be prepared to articulate:
- your targeted audience,
- specific objectives for the account,
- how the account will add value and complement existing FAO twitter accounts, and
- what time and resources you will be able to allocate to account management.
Units in decentralized offices should do the same via email or telephone.
Don’t initiate a Twitter account unless it can be actively maintained - tweeting at least 2-3 times a day. Followers will expect an FAO account to be active and useful. If it isn’t, it can transmit a sense of neglect and even undermine trust in the Organization. Understand and plan for the time commitment involved before starting.
Thus, FAO accounts may be permanently removed due to inactivity over 2 months. Inactivity will be based on the date of the last tweet. OCC will contact the account managers before closing it.
Each FAO Twitter account should strive to occupy a unique niche, complementing but not repeating other FAO accounts. For this reason it is important for account holders to monitor @faonews and other FAO Twitter accounts. Opportunities do exist for cross-fertilization, retweeting and sharing content, but retweets and similar tweets should add something new or valuable to the conversation.
Once you start tweeting from an FAO-affiliated account, you should contact @FAOnews in order to be added to the list of FAO Twitter accounts and ensure your content is being tracked and retweeted.
The correct channel for “breaking” news or announcements which have significant mass appeal or major political consequences is via official FAO news releases. In cases where a press release is scheduled and staff are aware of it, tweets should not anticipate the release. In case of doubt, contact the FAO Media Office (OCCM).
The accepted Twitter hashtag for FAO is #unfao, not #fao.
FAO “logo” accounts should aim to be authentic, human and personable but should not include irrelevant personal details.
In certain situations, Twitter accounts may be managed by short-term personnel or even volunteers. In such cases, it is crucial that the log-in credentials for the account be shared with a supervisor or other delegated staff member, and with OCC, so that they are not lost in the case of staff movements.
Staff using Twitter to coordinate FAO work should exercise discretion when discussing an internal topic or sensitive issues. Confidential information should be respected, as should embargoes on unreleased publications or other work in progress.
Employees with private Twitter accounts are asked to abide by the following guidelines:
- employees are free to share with their personal Twitter followers anything they find interesting or topical from the FAO Web site or social media accounts.
- do not use the FAO corporate emblem (“logo”) for personal/individual accounts.
- if posting your own point of view on topics relevant to the work of FAO, let your followers know that you work for FAO and make it clear that your tweets “do not necessarily represent FAO’s views, positions, strategies or opinions.” Twitter bios can mention that an individual works for FAO but should also indicate that the account holder is not an official FAO spokesperson. One recommended way to do this is to add something like the following text to your Twitter bio: "Views my own."
- protect confidential information – including internal correspondence (emails, for example) or any third-party information made available to the Organization – and respect embargoes on unreleased publications or other work in progress
- think before posting – use sound judgement and think about reactions to what you plan to post
- respect your audience – avoid negative personal comments or inflammatory subjects
- if you see misrepresentations of FAO on Twitter, you can point them out if you wish. Do so with respect, making sure that what you are saying is factually correct. Avoid arguments.
- FAO policy, procedures and rules apply to what you do online as well as elsewhere. Always behave in a manner consistent with the role of an international civil servant.