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Social Media: Top Three Resources for Texas County Officials

By Ender Reed
TAC Legislative Staff

County Social Media Resources
The National Association of Counties (NACo) has put together a resource page for county officials interested in learning about ways to approach social media. Included in the page are examples of county social media policies from around the country. These policies come from large and small counties and include input from communications consultants, county officials and staff with experience working with the complexities of social media issues. NACo has secured permissions from the original drafters and welcomes any county to borrow or repackage these policies to suit their own needs.
Legal Considerations of Social Media
Elected officials and governmental entities have legal concerns related to social media that the general public does not. However, due to the relative newness of social media, legal guidance is lacking for county officials. A PowerPoint from NACo presenter and San Mateo County Deputy County Counsel Glenn Levy highlights some legal issues that county officials should assess before delving into the social media realm.
Some of the relevant legal areas covered in the PowerPoint include public meeting law, open meetings law, public record laws, confidentiality issues, copyright issues and employment/HR issues. This is not a legal opinion but rather a starting point for county officials considering whether to engage their counties in social media.
TAC suggests county officials get input from their county attorneys or other local counsel about whether and how to implement a social media policy.
Top Six Twitter Tips
The Texas Association of Counties will be using Twitter to keep county officials abreast of the latest issues during the legislative session. The following are TAC’s Top Six Twitter Tips for county officials.
1. Format
All tweets must be less than 140 characters long.  
2. Follow, Follow, Follow
Get all your Twitter news in one feed on your homepage by “following” an account. Here are some Twitter accounts you might want to follow:
  • Texas Association of Counties: @TexasCounties
  • Texas Legislature: @TX_Legislature
  • Legislative Library: @TexasLRL
  • TAC County Relations Officer Lonnie Hunt: @LonnieHunt
  • Texas Tribune: @TexasTribune
  • Texas DPS: @TXDPS
  • Gov. Rick Perry: @GovernorPerry
  • David Dewhurst: @DavidHDewhurst
  • Texas House of Representatives: @TexasHouse
  • Your Texas legislators
3. Mentioning Others:
To mention another user, type the "@" symbol followed by the username.
 › For example: Just attended @Texascounties conference on 83 Legislature. Lots of work to do!
4. Hashtags:
Use hashtags (#) before a word to link to other tweets with the same theme. Use trending hashtags or create your own. Hashtags can be more than one word, but they can not include any spaces. 
 › For example: #TXlege

5. Twitter Help Center:

Search on the Twitter Help Center to find:

  • Twitter Basics
  • Twitter 101: How should I get started on Twitter?
  • Get to Know Twitter: New User FAQ
  • Twitter Glossary

6. Fast Follow:
Don’t want a Twitter account but want TAC updates? Use your cell phone to text “Follow TexasCounties” to 40404 to get tweets via text message.

Also, don’t hesitate to call the Legislative Department at the Texas Association of Counties if you would like help signing up for Twitter. The Legislative Department can be reached at (512) 478-8753.