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Going online: regional district moves to create greater presence through social media

There’s nothing like tweeting your own horn.

A social media policy that includes “tweeting” emergency information on Twitter will be employed by the regional district on a six month trial basis as the local government body tries to improve its lagging online presence.

The policy — intended for Regional District of Central Kootenay staff and elected officials — will provide guidance and direction as to the appropriate use of social media tools to achieve “organizational” objectives.

“Use of social media tools will lead to greater accountability and responsiveness to the public,” read a Social Media Policy report from RDCK’s Lauren Rethoret to the board of directors at their regular monthly meeting Oct. 20.

The tools include, but are not limited to blogs, wikis, podcasts and websites to share photos, videos and links to websites.

The trial will consist of training the staff and politicians as to the “appropriate use” of social media tools, identifying existing social media tools and sites being used by the RDCK, and develop a Twitter account for use by RCK staff for dissemination of employment opportunities, emergency information and occupational health and safety information.

As well, Facebook accounts used by RDCK staff and elected officials for dissemination of information pertaining to projects, programs, meeting dates, media releases and emergency information will be set up.

Training begins this year and RDCK social media sites will be made available for use in 2012. Redevelopment of the RDCK website will also occur in 2012.

The major cost of the program will be training, since the cost to develop and maintain the Twitter and Facebook accounts is minimal. Administration of social media sites under each RDCK department will fall under the budget allocated for advertising and public notices.

The policy contains direction for employee use of social media for personal interests — use that falls outside of an employee’s job duties or professional affiliations. Staff are allowed to check on personal social media accounts and sites during a lunch hour or a designated break, and their sites aren’t governed by the policy.

Only designated social media administrators are permitted to access social media accounts.