City of Durham Social Media Guidelines

For the social media policy for elected and appointed officials, download the policy. All requests for social media public records by elected and appointed officials should be directed to the City Clerk's Office.

New Account Request Form

Interested in creating a social media account for your department? Download the request form and submit your completed application to [email protected].

Questions or Concerns?

For information, contact the Communications Department or reference the full Social Media Policy.


After receiving approval for your social media account from the Communications Department, it’s the responsibility of the City department/division to ensure that the following setup requirements are met:
  • All usernames and passwords associated with the new account must be provided to the Communications Department as well as the department director or his/her designee. If/when the username and password are changed, the new information must be provided to all parties listed above.
    • Exception: Because Facebook does not have usernames or passwords, Facebook account holders are required to add the Communications Department's social media manager as an administrator to the department’s page as well as an additional back-up administrator from the department/division.
  • Departments should have a process for removing and re-assigning social media management duties when an employee leaves the organization. Administrator privileges should be revoked on the employee’s last day of employment and immediately re-assigned to other staff. All accounts must allow members of the public to post comments or other visitor-generated content directly. However, user guidelines should be posted clearly when applicable. Posted guidelines must include:
    • No comments will be allowed that use inappropriate or offensive language.
    • No comments will be allowed that discriminate or are derogatory based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, or veteran’s status.
    • Any profile that harasses another user of this profile or is in violation of the comment guidelines will be removed from the site.
    • Any profile that appears to violate any terms of the hosting site will be reported to site administrators.
    • Any comments that appear to be spam or advertising solicitation will be removed from the site.
    • City of Durham social media sites are subject to applicable North Carolina Public Records Law and can be disclosed to third parties.
  • Once departmental or divisional social media platforms are created and operational, administrators should seek page verification. Any department or division that creates and uses social media tools must join the Social Media Liaison Group, which is coordinated by the , and send a designee to attend all meetings.


The department responsible for the social media account must secure (or set privacy settings for) each social media account so that only City employees assigned by the applicable department can post to the site. Site administrators should take appropriate steps to minimize security risks in order to prevent fraud or unauthorized access to social media sites.

Tips for keeping your accounts secure:

  • Use unique passwords that contain 8-15 characters, include symbols, numbers, and caps.
  • Facebook and Twitter: Set up log-in notification to receive an email or text message whenever a the account is accessed or log-in approvals that require a security code to access the account from an unfamiliar browser. Facebook also offers a variety of additional protective measures available on the site under Security Settings.
  • Twitter: Use the application (app), or apps such as Hootsuite or TweetDeck, for Twitter activity. Limiting password-based access to accounts prevents hackers from taking total ownership, which is challenging and labor-intensive to fix.
  • Be cautious of third-party apps on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Make sure it is from a reputable company. Also, pay attention to what’s going on with the company who produces the app. If the app is hacked, social media profiles may also be vulnerable.

Tips for crisis management in the case of a City account being hacked:

  •    Immediately notify the Assistant Director in the Communications Department.
  •    Immediately try to regain access to the account.
  •    Once access to the account is obtained, change the password.
  •    Delete messages posted by hackers.
  •    Let followers know that the account was hacked and what is being done to fix the issue.
  •    Review third-party apps. These could be used by hackers to gain access to accounts.


Key performance indicators have been established for administrators to use to evaluate and improve the performance of accounts. Reports should be kept in Excel and submitted by email to the Communications Department assistant manager on a quarterly basis. Administrators should use Facebook Insights and Twitter analytics to track this information and download reports. Reports should include:
  •    Reach (FB)
  •    Impressions (Twitter)
  •    Engaged Users (FB)
  •    Likes/Unlikes (FB)
  •    People Talking About (FB)
  •    Link Clicks (FB and Twitter)
  •    Retweets (Twitter)
  •    Mentions (Twitter)
  •    Views (YouTube)
  •    Subscribers (YouTube)
  •    Followers (Instagram)
The Communications Department will routinely monitor content on each of the City’s social media sites to ensure adherence to the Social Media Policy for appropriate use, message, and branding consistent with the goals of the City of Durham.

The Communications Department will also conduct a performance review of all citywide social media sites on a quarterly basis and may recommend content management strategy changes, additional staff training and/or account deactivation. Among other things, the review will look at post frequency.
socialmediaguidelines-titlebar-bestpractices for employeesrepresentingcity
Employees representing the City of Durham on social media platforms should act, communicate, and execute their duties professionally at all times. Employees must not use City-related social networking sites for political purposes, to conduct private commercial transactions, or to engage in private business activities. Employees should be mindful that inappropriate usage of City-related social media can be grounds for disciplinary action.

Do’s, Don’ts & Helpful Hints for Creating a Social Media Strategy


  •    Know your audience.
  •    Monitor sites frequently.
    » Respond to comments/questions as soon as possible, but no later than the next business day.
  •    Research and find other local bloggers/networking sites that target the same audience.
    » Incorporate the blog/site into other marketing tools for an integrated approach.
  •    Follow/like other City of Durham accounts.
  •    Post often.
    » Active social media platforms should have new content posted daily, ideally five days per week.
  •    Develop a monthly evaluation plan.
    » As part of a monthly evaluation, track the performance of accounts as a key indicator of how well social media is being used to better communicate and engage on behalf of the City.
  •    Check your news feed before posting to ensure your post is not tone deaf or inappropriate due to “breaking news.”
  •    Always refer to the City’s brand guidelines when it comes to using logos or any elements of the City’s visual identity.
  •    Be visual.
    » View the Videography Guidelines.
    » View the Photography Guidelines.


  •    Delete or erase comments without guidelines established and posted.
    » Only comments that violate the terms set forth above may be deleted. A comment may not be deleted simply because it is deemed to be negative.
    » If the comment is a complaint about City services and a solution can be offered, a response should be given on the page so other followers can see they can come to City social media channels for answers and assistance.
    » Ignore negative or “trolling” comments for which you cannot offer solutions or provide answers.
  •    Get off focus or off message.
  •    Believe that one social network is the “be all, do all.” You may need to be on more than one social network (e.g., Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

Strategy Tips

  •    When establishing content management strategies for social media platforms, it is recommended that administrators create posts using the below content balance strategy to keep followers engaged:
  •    Master the “4 Cs”
    » Concise: People aren’t going to spend a lot of time on the content. Get to the point.
    » Conversational: People learn more effectively when spoken to, not at.
    » Compelling: Give site visitors a reason to spend time with this piece of content.
    » Creative: Come up with unique ways to capture the attention of site visitors.
  •    Most social media consumption is done on mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, iPads, etc.). Content and links must work on a mobile device platform.
  •    The time to post matters. Use built-in platform analytics to determine when followers are online so posts can be timed accordingly.
Communication on City social media platforms is considered a public record. Posts of the account administrator and any feedback by other employees and non-employees, including members of the public, will become part of the public record. Always provide links to the City’s official website for information, forms, documents, or online services necessary to conduct business with the City of Durham. It is strongly recommended that new or unique information or updates be contained on both the City’s website and the social media site.
Employees have the First Amendment right to free speech, and thus, are not restricted in using personal social networking sites. It is recommended that these sites remain personal in nature to help ensure a distinction between sharing personal and organizational views. Employees may list their City position in their personal social media accounts, but they are not authorized to speak or comment on behalf of the City.

Communication with the public

If a City employee is contacted by a resident or elected official on their personal social media account asking for the employee to respond as a City official from their personal account, there is no expectation that the employee should respond since this contact did not come through official channels. If an employee chooses to acknowledge an inquiry, he or she may state the following response:
  •    Twitter: “Tagging @CityofDurhamNC on your inquiry so the City Administration may respond to you directly.”
  •    Facebook: “Tagging @City of Durham, NC Government on your inquiry so the City Administration may respond to you directly.”
  •    Instagram: “Tagging @cityofdurhamnc on your inquiry so the City Administration may respond to you directly.”
Other platforms, such as Nextdoor: “Contact the City of Durham directly so the City administration may respond to you. You may submit your inquiry to Durham One Call at 919-560-1200,, or using the Durham One Call smartphone app available in the Apple and Google Play stores.”

Important items to keep in mind

  •    It is recommended that employees keep their privacy and security in mind when engaging in personal social media use. » Even with good security measures, the comments made (and how those comments may be interpreted) could be forwarded and accessible to others for a long time.
  •    If an employee shares/retweets posts from official City social media platforms, they should be mindful that any statements made to accompany the shared post could be construed as being made on behalf of the organization.
  •    If an employee chooses to post photos/live tweet/live stream information about an internal City meeting, staff training, or an employee-only event or activity, the employee must notify the meeting organizer as well as others in attendance of the intention to post and receive permission from all involved.
  •    Any employee who chooses to respond or conduct official City business or communication from a personal account is advised that City business and/or communications are public record and the employee, thus, bears the responsibility of complying with the North Carolina Public Records Law, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 132-1 et seq., as well as applicable portions of the records retention schedule.

Social Media Logos

   » Download social media logos.