UK publishes Twitter guidelines for ministers

[Screen grab shows the Twitter front page. — pic]

LONDON, July 29 — The British government has published a guide to help ministers understand how to use the social networking site Twitter, with the aim of extending its news and corporate messages online.

Twitter, which lets users post “Tweets” of up to 140 characters, has surged in popularity since its launch in 2006.

With government departments such as the Foreign Office and Downing Street already tweeting, the 20-page guide details how ministers should provide an “informal” and “human” voice.

“We are looking at technology that is only a couple of years old, that people are still coming to terms with and finding the best way to use it,” said a Cabinet spokesman.

The guide, written by Neil Williams of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), asks ministers to tweet “a minimum 2 and a maximum of 10 tweets per working day, with a minimum gap of 30 minutes between tweets to avoid flooding our followers.”

Ministers are also encouraged to tweet with credibility and bear in mind relevant issues while avoiding commercially or politically sensitive information.

Campaign messages are not appropriate unless there is a current element involved.

Around 19 government departments currently run twitter feeds.

“The idea was to give some sort of guidance of joining everyone up so everyone is using it to the same kind of end,” said the spokesman. — Reuters.