Use of social media in EU communication
Commission staff is expected to act in accordance with the Staff Regulations when communicating online. Social media widgets should not be embedded on EUROPA websites.
Social media refer to online technologies and practices that are used to share opinions and information, promote discussion, and build relationships. They use a variety of different formats, including text, pictures, audio and video.
More and more EU citizens are active on social networks. The European Commission therefore uses these platforms to reach out and connect with citizens and stakeholders in addition to the communication which takes place via more traditional channels such as written press, broadcasters and EU publications and websites.
The Commission distinguishes social media use for the following purposes:
- communication on political priorities
- stakeholder and campaign communication
- use of social media in staff members' own capacity
Communication on political priorities
The purpose of this type of communication is relaying official announcements, press releases and statements in a consistent and coherent way. This communication will be done 'on behalf of the Commission' by a designated group of staff members, the Social Media Network (SMN).
This network of mandated staff in the DGs and Representations will therefore work closely together with the Spokespersons' Service (SPP).
Mandated staff are at least connected on Twitter and use branded account names (including EU or EC) such as:
- @NeelieKroesEU, @LaszloAndorEU, @APiebalgsEU (Commissioners' accounts)
- @ECspokesKoen, @ECspokesBudget (Spokespersons' Service)
- @EUlondonrep, @EC_StockholmRep, @EUintheUS (representations and delegations)
- @EU_regional, @EU_development, @EU_OSHA (policies and agencies)
These usernames should, if possible, also be used on other social networks, like Facebook and Flickr to ensure consistency.
- Twitter account of Koen Doens, Head of the Spokespersons´ Service (SPP)
- Twitter accounts of Commissioners Reding, Kroes, etc.
- Commissioners' Facebook accounts:
Stakeholder and campaign communication
The purposes of this type of communication vary from
- informing citizens
- sharing experiences
- promoting policies or campaigns and
- engaging with stakeholders
This form of communication is conducted by the lead DG, service or agency in close coordination with DG Communication and in cooperation with the Social Media Network.
The lead DG entity develops and revises its own social media strategy based on common good practice guidance jointly developed under the auspices of DG Communication. Any decision to engage on social media must be preceded by a “fitness check”, i.e. whether the planned action is "fit for purpose" including a thorough assessment whether the available resources match the envisaged level of ambition. The EUROPA site provides information on what is already available: Connect with EU on social networks.
Social media have an important scope for interaction and engagement with interested groups on EU-related themes and activities, but each DG has to take into account the specific policy, its context, target audiences and the available resources.
Find more information and best practices on the Social media wiki.
Social media use by staff in their personal capacity
European Commission staff members who are active users of social media in their personal capacity should note in their profiles that statements and opinions are personal and that they do not represent the official position of the Commission if they mention in the profile where they work.
As Commission official, the participation in social media is subject to the Staff Regulations and the Code of Good Administrative Behaviour, in the same way as participation in other media. DG Communication and DG Human Resources and Security have made particular guidelines for all staff on the use of social media.
Use on EUROPA websites
The main guidelines governing the Commission's use of social media are listed below:
- Commission staff may use social media for personal and professional purposes but is expected to act in accordance with the Staff Regulations when communicating online (Guidelines for all staff on the use of social media).
- Social media widgets (such as Facebook 'Like' button, Twitter feeds plug-in, Youtube videos, etc.) should not be embedded on EUROPA sites because they compromise business continuity and the privacy of EUROPA users. For more information, read the guidelines on the use of third-party tools and services on EUROPA sites.
- Link to your social media pages using plain text links. You could add to the text link the social media official icon but you must ensure the image fully complies with the legal requirements of the branding or registered trademark. For more information, read the guidelines on linking to external sites and the different branding legal guidelines (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)
DG Communication Social Media team guides all staff in the use of social media. It is in charge of coordinating the Social Media Network. The team provides practical guidance on social media use, looks into the best training opportunities, and promotes cooperation between various Commission networks.
Functional Mailbox: COMM SOCIAL MEDIA TEAM
In addition, the Social Media team is tasked with monitoring trends and the Commission's presence on social media, prospecting the communication landscape for emerging innovative communication tools, techniques and/or approaches, assessing their added value for use in the Commission and managing their implementation.
Find out more:
- guidelines for all staff on the use of Social media
- tips, tricks and best practices on the Social media wiki
- follow the EC on Twitter
- "Like" the EC Facebook page
- read our EU Digital Blog