Page last updated at 23:08 GMT, Monday, 27 July 2009 00:08 UK

Government advice urges tweeting

Twitter website screen shot
Tweeting should take less than an hour a day, the advice says

New government guidance has been published urging civil servants to use the micro-blogging site Twitter.

Launched on the Cabinet Office website, the 20-page document is calling on departments to "tweet" on "issues of relevance or upcoming events".

The website is already used by Downing Street, the Foreign Office and many individual MPs.

Neil Williams, of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), published the "template" strategy.

Writing on the Cabinet Office's digital engagement blog, Mr Williams - who is BIS's head of corporate digital channels - conceded that 20 pages was a "a bit over the top for a tool like Twitter" but added: "I was surprised by just how much there is to say - and quite how worth saying it is."

'Add-on to business'

The template had been written for BIS to consider using Twitter but could be used by other departments, he said.


Publishing tweets, replying to incoming messages and monitoring the account would take less than an hour a day, according to the strategy.

There would be an "add-on" to "business as usual" activity due to quick discussions of potential tweets at daily meetings, as well as e-mails between officials and digital media staff about potential content for tweets.

The advice says BIS should produce between two and 10 tweets per day, not including replies to other Twitterers or live coverage of a crisis or event.

I'm sorry but the government should get on with it's job, not twittering, facebooking or myspacing. Really, anyone who uses these things must have no life
Mark, Leigh, Lancs

Tweets should also be limited to issues of relevance or upcoming events rather than just campaign messages, and insights from ministers are encouraged.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: "At the moment, around 65% of homes are on the internet and there are 15 million visits a month to directgov and these numbers are growing.

"With more and more citizens using the internet it's important that, as part of its communications approach, the government develops its capability to use digital channels effectively and that includes social media tools such as Twitter."

More than one million people follow Downing Street's business via Twitter.

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