The following guidance covers USDA branding on social media. For information how to obtain an account, visit the USDA Digital Strategy Playbook social media section.
USDA uses social media to reach stakeholders quickly and easily, delivering information through a variety of platforms and formats as part of our integrated communications strategy. USDA maintains social media channels on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, and YouTube. Agencies are permitted to use channels to share content and engage with stakeholders, once approved by the Office of Communications. The Office of Communications evaluates new tools and platforms as they become available.
Use of new media technologies and social media tools is governed by USDA Directive 1495-001.
Branding on Social Media
As the primary logo of our organization, the USDA logo should stand out from other graphic elements. Refer to positioning and placement for guidance on how to place the logo, how much clear space to leave around the logo, and how to position the logo with other agency logos.
Social Profile Icons
All official USDA Twitter profiles must include the latest approved USDA Twitter logo for the respective agency. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Facebook and Instagram (round)
- YouTube and LinkedIn (square)
Social Bio Section
Your bio language should be brief and convey essential information. Keep in mind that on Twitter, your bio can only be a maximum of 160 characters.
- Be sure to include a link to your agency’s website.
- Add a cover photo where necessary (i.e., Twitter and Facebook). For high-quality photos, check out the USDA Flickr page.
Social Media Accessibility
When possible, always make your social media posts as accessible as possible. Here are some resources to help you get started:
Use of Hashtags
Hashtags are a way to connect social media content to a specific topic, event, theme or conversation. They also make it easier to discover posts around those specific topics, because hashtags aggregate all social media content with that same hashtag. Check out Hootsuite’s guide to using hashtags for more information. Always search the hashtag(s) before using to make sure the conversation surrounding the hashtag is relevant and appropriate to your messaging.
Twitter will index all terms in a tweet for discovery in search and trends regardless of if a hashtag is present. As a result going forward we no longer need to be adding hashtags to terms that are organically present in the copy of a tweet.
Hashtags should now only be used to include terms that would not otherwise be included in the tweet copy, to ensure that the tweet is identified as relevant to that subject or trend.
WRONG: Secretary Perdue proclaims June 22-26 as National #PollinatorWeek in recognition and support of the important role pollinators play in agricultural production
CORRECT: Secretary Perdue proclaims June 22-26 as National Pollinator Week in recognition and support of the important role pollinators play in agricultural production
or if this is related to an event or trend that is not mentioned in the copy:
CORRECT: Our partnerships with Canada and Mexico is stronger than ever. #AgOutlook
WRONG: #USMCA will advance U.S. agricultural interests in the most important markets for American’s farmers, ranchers & agribusinesses.
CORRECT: USMCA will advance U.S. agricultural interests in the most important markets for American’s farmers, ranchers & agribusinesses. #USMCAnow (if that is the top trending hashtag or campaign hashtag)
Reach out to email@example.com if you need additional recommendations on using hashtags.
Social Media Graphic Dimensions
Websites like Canva always update the social media dimensions.
Check out the following resources on more up-to-date social media dimension:
Social Media Policy
New Media Roles and Responsibilities (DR1495-‐001) establishes the requirements for the implementation of social media technologies within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Unless otherwise specified, this directive applies to all USDA agencies, employees, contractors, interns, and partners utilizing new media technologies for official USDA purposes.
Agencies must complete the New Media Request Form (AD-‐3022) and submit to the Office of Communications for review and approval prior to use.
USDA and Agencies may only establish a presence on social media channels that have been evaluated by the General Services Administration and whose Terms of Service agreements have been reviewed and approved by USDA's Office of General Counsel.
Agency vs. Enterprise Social Media Tools
Agencies are permitted to use the channels to share content and engage with stakeholders in coordination with the Office of Communications.
Agencies may pursue the use of other approved channels only after receiving approval as directed in DR1495-‐001 and AD-‐3022.
OC will continue to evaluate new tools and platforms as they become available.
- Digital.gov: Federal SocialGov Community
Research, evaluate, and implement emerging social technologies and strategies.
- Digital.gov: Federal Social Media Accessibility Toolkit
Evaluate the accessibility of social media programs for persons with disabilities, identify areas that need improving, and share ideas and recommendations.
- Office of Government Ethics Guidance
The standards of conduct as applied to personal social media use.
- USDA Digital Strategy Social Media Guidance
Understand when and how to use social media to amplify your agency’s news, mission, and goals.
Personal Social Media Ethics
Non-official/Personal use of social media is the day-to-day use of social media sites by agency users that is not related to official duties. Personal social media accounts cannot be used to conduct official USDA business. Pursuant to the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Executive Branch Employees agency users must be careful in their personal participation in social media sites; they must not engage as if presenting the official position of USDA.
According to guidance issued by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), an employee is not required, ordinarily, to post a disclaimer disavowing government sanction or endorsement on the employee’s personal social media account. Where confusion or doubt is likely to arise regarding the personal nature of social media activities, however, an employee is encouraged to include a disclaimer clarifying that the social media communications reflect only the employee’s personal views and do not necessarily represent the views of the employee’s agency or the United States. A clear and conspicuous disclaimer will usually be sufficient to dispel any confusion that arises.
Further, agency users must comply with the USDA Policy on Personal Use of Government Office Equipment, New Media Roles and Responsibilities, and other applicable policies and procedures. Agency users must also be aware that misconduct committed on a social media site may result in appropriate discipline consistent with federal law and agency policy and practice.
Contact the Office of Ethics, firstname.lastname@example.org, with questions.