Social networking sites are websites that connect people. In these online communities, people can join (for free) and at a minimum, establish a page with their profile. A popular professional social networking site, LinkedIn, offers sections for jobs, service provider recommendations, and questions. All allow users to find people they know among the members, or look for other members with similar interests or affiliations. These sites make it easy to establish networks of contacts. Other Web 2.0 technologies, such as Wiki products and photo-sharing sites (e.g., Flickr), also have social networking aspects to them.

The majority of state agencies who are involved in social media are using Facebook, so this section of WebTools is primarily focused on that service. However, there are other social media sites such as Linkedin.

Departments Using Facebook

Let us know about your Facebook account. It should be included on the master list on the CA.gov website.

Getting Started

Individuals users of Facebook have accounts called “profiles.” Users grow their networks by requesting other users to become “friends.” Users can “like” accounts held by organizations and public figures. Organizations, including government offices, have “pages.” It is not recommended you set up a Facebook group, as there is limited membership and capability. Facebook has provided a number of good resources to help businesses and government connect on Facebook:

Set Up a Facebook Page

To create a Facebook page for your agency, go to the “create a page” link at the bottom of the homepage. Select “government” under the “company, organization, or institution” category. Add your agency name (you will not be able to change this later) and read and agree to the Facebook terms. Note: The federal government has negotiated terms of service for U.S. agencies. However, there is no such agreement with the state of California. Please refer to the Amended Pages Terms for State and Local Governments in the United States. Per the Amended Terms, you must contain, in a prominent location: “If you are looking for more information about [Government Entity], please visit [website URL].”

Next, Facebook will ask you to create a Facebook account or use an existing Facebook account. Select “I do not have an account.” This will allow you to create an organization page that is not associated with a personal profile. You will be asked to provide an email address and date of birth for legal purposes, but you will not be required to provide your name or any other details about your identity. You can also create and admin a Facebook Page for your organization from your personal account. Admins are not public and you can add mutiple admins to your page.

Once you’ve created a page, edit the settings to make the Page unpublished (not visible to the public) until you choose to publish it. The default settings make the page publicly visible.

Add Content to the Page

Fill out the info tab, upload photos, videos, etc. When you are done, publish the page.

Regularly Update the Page

You should establish a system for regularly updating your page, including who will be responsible for updating it, what kind of content should be posted, etc.

Add a Comment Policy

Add a comment policy so you outline acceptable page behavior and reasons for admin intervention. Here are some good examples:

Add a Username to the Page

Once you have 25 fans you can add a username to your page.

Put a Like Box on Your Website

Allow visitors to your website to become a fan of your page from your site by adding the Like Box to your website.

Authenticate Your Page

It is a best practice to authenticate your site, providing reassurance to users that your Facebook page is official (i.e., it is not a spoofed account). Here are ways to do this:

  • Provide reciprocal links: Link to your Facebook account from your ca.gov site, and link to your ca.gov site from your Facebook account.
  • Use a recognized, official logo or brand mark as your profile picture.
  • Include your URL in the (as a hyperlink) in the About paragraph below your profile picture.
  • Include your URL (as a hyperlink) in the Information tab.

Embedding Facebook feeds

  • Facebook Social Plug-Ins – The easiest way to place Facebook feeds on your agency website is to use one of Facebook’s Social Plug-Ins (or badges).
  • RSS Feeds – Facebook outputs RSS feeds, so these feeds can be used throughout your website and other services in creative ways.


Get Help

For assistance, contact us.

Or contact Facebook directly at their government email address.


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