The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has standards for its social media, including blogs, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, X (formerly known as Twitter), Vimeo, and YouTube. If you have questions about social media, contact the EERE webmaster.
Best Practices for Social Media
Posting on social media is more than just about placing content online. To successfully amplify your message and reach, follow these best practices.
To plan a social media strategy, you should:
- Develop a comprehensive social media plan. Define goals for your account, determine how social media fits into your office's overall communications plan, and understand what your platform prioritizes and doesn't. Platform-specific content is king; adjust your content based on if the platform prefers video, audio, longform posts, threaded content, etc.
- Identify your audience. Each platform will have different audiences, and therefore, respond differently to content. Focus on the platforms most likely to reach your target audiences, as defined in your social media plan.
- Develop a posting schedule. Finding the proper schedule for posting not only teaches users to check back regularly for new content but can also boost engagement. Ideally, accounts should post no more than a certain number of times each day on each channel, including amplifications and retweets/reposts, to avoid overwhelming users' feeds with posts. See each platform's profile below for more specifics.
- Designate staff members to draft and post content on your accounts. Make sure that you know which staff members will be responsible for creating your content, and make sure that backup staff is in place for when they are out of office.
- Find a voice. Users respond better to posts that feel human or make a personal connection. A conversational voice will do better than a tone that feels robotic or full of technical language understood only by specific stakeholders. Follow plain language guidelines for social media content.
- Engage with users when it is beneficial. Treat your users with respect and reply to questions you can answer to establish expert authority. Do not argue with users on your account.
- Push users back to your content as much as possible. Remember that one goal of social media is to drive people to your office's web content. Adjust post language to include a call to action that catches the attention of viewers, such as "register now," "apply now for," "we need your input" or "we attended (event)."
There are certain best practices for structuring the content in posts that make them more attractive to social media users or more likely to be chosen by social media algorithms. To improve the content, you should:
- Use first person (we/our) as the subject instead of using office or department names.
- Include one to two relevant hashtags per post, integrated within the post text if possible.
- Including one or two relevant emoji in posts may also be beneficial, but not for all topics or platforms. Work with your social and communications leads to determine what types of content may benefit.
- Tag relevant partner organizations to help amplify engagement. Tagging individuals is not recommended unless they are high profile, known accounts, such as the Secretary of Energy.
- It is important to note that organizations can have different handles, or names, on different platforms, so double check any accounts you plan to tag. For example, NREL's X account is @nrel, while its Instagram account is @nationalrenewableenergylab
- Use relevant visuals or videos with posts, instead of using the autogenerated image. Remember that all images you use for social media should be Section 508 compliant and accessible, including using alt text.
- Amplify relevant content from other established government brands.
Follow proper DOE cybersecurity measures for your accounts, including using two-factor authorization. Make sure to regularly change passwords or use a password manager. Visit Powerpedia's social media guidance page for more information on security requirements.
EERE staff are encouraged to submit content for the EERE Facebook account after first coordinating with their office's communications lead, who will work directly with EERE Communications. Your communications lead will send EERE Communications the text of the post, a URL to link to, and a photo.
Types of posts that are ideal for EERE's Facebook audience, based on analytics research, include Energy 101 content, high-level report takeaways, industrywide job announcements and statistics, communities' benefits content, supply chain and manufacturing news, transition from oil and gas to clean energy success stories, and investments in Americans.
As Facebook users largely access the site through mobile devices, content should be optimized for mobile viewing. This may include creating vertically-aligned videos and the use of mobile-friendly images. Ideally, Facebook accounts should post articles a maximum of twice per day.
EERE staff are encouraged to submit content for EERE's LinkedIn account after first coordinating with their office's communications lead, who will work directly with EERE Communications. Your communications lead will send the text of the post, a URL to link to, and a photo.
Types of posts that are ideal for EERE's LinkedIn audience, based on analytics research, include job opportunities, webinars, staff spotlights, event promotion and wrap-up posts, nationwide map graphics, blogs or LinkedIn articles that are authored by EERE staff members, thought leadership content, and Clean Energy Champion (human-centric profiles) content.
Due to the nature of LinkedIn's more formal and professional nature, longer-form text posts, infographics and short-form video perform best on this platform. Ideally, LinkedIn accounts should post no more than four times per week.
EERE staff are encouraged to submit content for DOE's X account after first coordinating with their office's communications lead, who will work directly with EERE Communications.
For DOE program offices, the Office of Public Affairs is not approving new X accounts at this time.
Based on analytics, types of posts that are ideal for EERE's audience include genuine/authentic people making progress, clever fun facts, communities’ benefits content, what prize and competition winners did to win, and Clean Energy Champion (human-centric profiles) content.
Twitter posts for non-verified accounts are limited to 280 characters, including links (which take up a set amount of characters, regardless of URL length).
Additional branding information, including assets, can be found on X's support site.
EERE offices are welcome to add videos to the DOE Vimeo channel.
All videos must follow EERE's video requirements. Before beginning to produce a video, please consult with your office's communications lead, who will submit your idea for review via the EERE Policy Calendar. You can begin producing the video after receiving approval from EERE Communications.
EERE offices are welcome to post videos on the DOE YouTube channel. Before beginning to produce a video, please consult with your office’s communications lead, who will submit your idea for review via the EERE Policy Calendar. You can begin producing the video after receiving approval from EERE Communications.
If you want your video posted on DOE's YouTube channel, follow the process on the Video page.
Any office may run a blog. If you want to reach an existing audience without creating your own blog, you can write a guest post or become a regular contributor for these blogs.
Before beginning to write a blog post, please consult with your office’s communications lead, who will submit your idea for review via the EERE Policy Calendar. You can begin writing the blog post after receiving approval from EERE Communications.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to post on the EERE Blog.
Blog Hosting, Design, and Oversight
For security purposes, all blogs are hosted in the Energy.gov Drupal environment.
All blogs will be designed in the Energy.gov template and do not have comments enabled by default. If you feel it's important for your readers to be able to comment on your content, contact the Web Governance Team.
EERE's office directors must be aware of all blogs within their jurisdiction and assure the appropriateness and quality of the content being posted on them.
Office directors should:
- Know how much time is invested regularly in their office's blogs.
- Hold quarterly reviews of the content to make sure it is appropriate and accurate.
- Periodically review all blogs to determine if they are active and still relevant.
Content and Professionalism
Blogs should be accurate, fair, and unbiased.
All communication should be professional and courteous. Blogs must fit the mission of EERE and not interfere with the primary mission of the organization. Any EERE staff or contractor who participates in an EERE blog, whether by posting content or leaving a comment, should:
- Limit blogging to factual issues (research and development topics, etc.), rather than in-depth discussion of administration or departmental policy.
- Avoid discussion of confidential information.
- Use professional standards in language and decorum.
- Withhold personal opinions on office, departmental, and administration policy.
- Assure that all content is accurate, and inform readers if content is changed, updated, or corrected.
- Be aware that bloggers represent DOE with their posts.