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APPENDIX A: Methodology

This report draws from both document analysis of existing social media policies and interviews with government professionals.

We found and reviewed 26 social media documents (policies and guidelines) from government agencies (four international, eight federal, five state, and nine local). All documents were collected between October and December of 2009. During our search, two existing clearinghouses were uncovered. The first clearinghouse was collected by Chris Boudreaux in support of his upcoming book Social Media Governance: Empowerment with Accountability.4 The second was found at Muni.Gov, a social networking site of a coalition of government entities “focusing on exploring the use and principles of Web 2.0 in an effort to improve citizen services and communication via technology.” 5

The 26 documents are of two different types. The first type of document represents official policies that govern employees’ conduct on social media sites, whether professional or personal, and management of official representation of an agency in social media. The second type of document represents guidelines for agency employees that provides advice on how to use social media effectively, tips on how to make its content interesting and appropriate, and how to engage the public. Several documents contained elements of both, effectively combining a how-to-guide with an official agency social media policy.

In addition, 28 professionals from 14 government agencies were interviewed between December 2009 and February 2010. The interviews lasted approximately 45 minutes and covered the following areas: social media use, concerns and benefits associated with social media use, and evaluation of social media initiatives.