Skip directly to content

Support and training

Write municipal social media guidelines in 5 simple steps

Discover how to write guidelines that balance freedom and control. Research by Thomas More University College Mechelen helps municipalities to write social media policies based on best practice.


Social media creates new opportunities for service provision and communication, but can also lead to uncertainty and challenges. Many local authorities are wondering how to introduce and deal with these challenges in a well-thought-out and responsible way.

What are staff members allowed to do and say on social media? How can authorities fully benefit from the advantages of social media?

A well-drawn up social media policy will guide you and your staff through these questions and will create transparency, encourage the use of social media and prevent misunderstandings.

Develop your guidelines in 5 steps

1. Look at your neighbours

Find inspiration in social media policy papers from other authorities, not-for-profit organisations and commercial enterprises. Their guidelines may help you to draw up your own social media policies.

Find out more:

  • Examples of Belgian social media guidelines or codes of conduct

  • Papers on social media policy from around the world

  • Overview of social media policy plans for local governments and companies in the Netherlands

2. Use a social media policy generator

You can draw up a list of dos and don’ts for social media use by your organisation in less than 10 minutes, just by answering a few questions. The advice that these sites provide is a good place to start, although you will need to do some more work to adapt the advice for your organisation.

Try the tools:


3. Find out the specific needs of your organisation

Consult with all relevant people to find out how to adapt templates for your own organisation. Add specific numbers where necessary (for example, the turnaround time to answer questions via social media).

4. Integrate

Social media policy is more than a document. If you want your staff to know your policy and follow the guidelines, communication and training is crucial.

5. Evaluate

Social media is subject to constant change. The same goes for your social media policy.


“A social media policy creates transparency, encourages the use of social media and prevents misunderstandings”

Next steps

Fancy Facebook? Analyse your municipality’s digital maturity and readiness for social media

Further reading

  • Article: Social Media Policy

  • Facebook guidelines - Karlstad

  • Facebook guidelines - Groningen

Web links


Marijke Lemal, Head of Research, Thomas More Media & Business School, Belgium. Email:

Thomas More University College in Mechelen, Belgium, is an academic partner in the Opening Up project. Thomas More researchers are able to offer broad perspectives on social media and open data.

Social Media Game: discover the impact of social media for municipalities

All social media decisions now depend on you. Do you accept the challenge? Play a game and discover the best strategies for effectively managing your social media presence


In partnership with social media strategist Otto Thors, founder of WeGovernment in the Netherlands, Opening Up has developed a game for municipalities across the North Sea Region to raise awareness within their organisations about the impact social media can have for their business. The game gives employees hands-on experience at managing a social media presence, developing policies and guidelines and testing a variety of strategies.

The board game requires five players. Each person takes a different role:

  • Governor –political and media issues

  • Manager – tasks and budgets

  • Employee – execution and responsibilities

  • Innovator – online solutions and innovation

  • Mediator – publicity and support

With support and input from the game master, players discuss tactics and approaches to achieve the best possible outcomes in response to a variety of different challenges. The game master is trained to stimulate discussions and offer insights on social media users and behaviours.

The Opening Up project has developed a printable Social Media Game that you can download online. We encourage municipalities to register to use this game and raise the social media awareness and expertise of its employees. All you have to do is print, pitch and play!

The online version also provides answers and feedback for local game masters who will stimulate discussions and offer insights on social media users and their behaviours. To become a certified game master you can request coaching from WeGovernment.  

Incorporated into municipal training, the game helps to raise awareness within the organisation of the potential impact of social media – and the need for clear, strategic planning. “It highlights the impact of social media for the organisation and citizens. Depending on the social media maturity of the organisation, it can encourage a municipality to adopt social media, help them develop guidelines and policies, or to improve their social media strategies,” Mr Thors remarks.

“Hands-on experience at managing a social media presence, developing policies and testing strategies”

In the Netherlands the precursor of Opening Up’s Social Media Game has already been played multiple times by over 50 municipalities.

Summary of benefits

  • Hands-on experience

  • Opportunity to test different strategies

  • Insights and advice from experts

  • Raise awareness about policies, governance and potential impact

  • Ideal for training and strategy development

Next steps

Web links


Otto Thors, WeGovernment, Netherlands. Email:

Social media maturity: take the test!

Our maturity test helps you to develop your social media strategies. A self-assessment tool and scorecard gives you the measure of social media activity and strategic adoption within your organisation.


The Opening Up project has developed an online tool for municipalities to find out just how social media savvy they are. The tool is available in English and Dutch and asks users approximately 50 questions around five broad themes:

  • Leadership and innovation regarding social media

  • Strategy

  • Governance

  • Implementation

  • Policy, guidance and measurement

Answers to the questionnaire feed into a scorecard with graphical displays of your score. It also compares your organisation with the benchmark performance of other organisations so you can see whether you are leading the field or falling behind.

The tool offers every organisation customised recommendations to improve its social media strategy. This advice guides users on how to raise awareness about social media within their organisation, with concrete action on how to prepare to launch social media activity. If your organisation already has a social media presence, the tool highlights any contradictions in strategy vs deployment and helps you to develop more strategic, effective campaigns.


Take the Social Media Maturity Test

“Is your organisation social media savvy?”

Summary of benefits

  • Questions highlight problems areas or ignorance

  • Compare against benchmark performance

  • Advice on next steps

  • Plan internal communication and raise awareness

  • Develop more effective, strategic campaigns

Next steps

What makes social media so great for learning?

If you use social media you are probably learning without even knowing it! If you use social media you are probably learning without even knowing it! Here are five reasons why.


Facebook is not just for gossip and tagging embarrassing photos of friends. Twitter is not just there to let you rant in public or keep up with your favourite celebs.

Social media platforms make learning easy. You can listen to world experts or discuss ideas with peers – all as part of everyday activity. On social media, learning really becomes a life-long habit.

Here are 5 reasons that make social media an ideal learning environment:

#1 Unexpected learning

With all the sharing and clever algorithms for identifying extra content you might like to read, social media platforms provide ample opportunities for you to “stumble upon” something new. You are more likely to discover topics you never even knew existed!

Using Facebook groups and adding media content to it from global , Spanish speaking sources, is a great way for a course in Spanish to connect to actual events, helping students to extend and integrate their language learning into their personal lives.

#2 Knowledge and skills ‘on the fly’

Forget about formal training sessions and programmes. Now you can swat up on the way to work, over coffee, even in bed.

#3 Connect learning with your personal life

You are always checking Facebook, right? Now, just add some educational pages to your likes and you’ll make learning part of your everyday social networking activity.

#4 Direct access to teachers, classmates and peers

Social media gives you unprecedented connection to unprecedented numbers of people. No you can contact experts and peers directly with your questions.

#5 Peer-to-peer mentoring

Help people like you by offering advice and guidance

“Make learning an everyday habit”


Wim Oostindier, Hanze University of Applied Sciences.

Wim Oostindier MA, specialises in the use of IT in teaching and learning. He is involved as a consultant, facilitator and trainer in the design and development IT supported learning. He is an expert in the use of social media, open resources, MOOCs, SPOCs, ELOs and videoconference, especially for foreign language learning.

Teacher interest groups provide professional development and training

An online discussion group allows teachers in a municipality to share ideas, resources and best practice. In times of financial constraint, public workers – including teachers – often lose out on professional development and training. Can online interest groups help plug the gap?


The municipality of Høje-Taastrup in Denmark set up three interest groups for local teachers on a shared intranet using a platform from software company itslearning. The discussion groups were developed to help teachers share their ideas and learn from each other as part of their continuous professional development.

The groups have flourished and a large proportion of the city’s 550 public sector teachers are now members. The largest group focuses on the use of IT in education and has over 350 members. Traffic is entirely dependent on the teachers themselves and how much they post and share.

Monitoring the project, the municipality has found that most group members are ‘lurkers’ – happy to follow discussions and access shared resources, but not participate in discussions. Nevertheless, there are enough active members to make the groups worthwhile.

The municipality is now launching more groups on specific themes:

  • Healthy schools

  • ART - Aggression Replacement Training

  • The iPad in the classroom

  • Reading computers

“Teachers share their ideas and learn from each other”

Story in numbers

How high is the membership in interestgroups:

  • Maths: 186
  • Science: 175
  • IT in education: 315

Summary of benefits

  • Develop a sense of community and common purpose

  • Share resources

  • Share best practice

  • Discuss ideas

  • Connect with teachers from a similar context or locality

Web links

Read about the itslearning schools intranet platform


Mr. Søren H Hansen, Educational IT Consultant, Høje-Taastrup Municipality, Denmark. Email:

Søren Hansen holds a Masters in Educational IT and focuses on the use of IT in Høje-Taastrup municipality schools. As part of the Opening Up project he worked on two school-related projects: Interest Groups and The digital citizen.