Governments are all over social media these days. They have to be in order to ensure maximum communication between them and the people they serve. Effective communication is critical to have for governments because this ensures that the voices of the people can be heard through a medium that is easy for both parties to use. It’s fast and can create the sorts of debates between the people that the government wants to see in order to facilitate important decision making.
As with anything really, there will be certain drivers and inhibitors surrounding social media within government implementation and adoption schemes and processes.
Social media has definitely been fully implemented into governmental systems. The Obama‘s, the Key‘s, the Clinton‘s, and many more government officials are fully invested in their various social media accounts. Between them all, they all have twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, and manage Instagram accounts as well. Social media has been fully adopted into the government by officials of various different ages and positions.
The motives that drive governments to use social media to connect with the people they represent are usually two main points: Transparency and the expectations that the public have of them.
Government transparency is particularly important as this is what leads the people to have faith in the government officials they support. It is imperative for government officials to be clear and politically correct when they post on social media, as the kind of ‘eruption’ that can come from it has the chance to be negative or positive, depending on how the post was worded. However the kinds of reactions that governments can get from the public can be very useful.Take the New Zealand Flag debate for example. There was a huge backlash from the public, some in favour of the new flag design, but many wanted to retain the original flag. This could be even seen as critical market research for the government as it helps them to see their people’s needs and wants. All the backlash was seen everywhere on social media: Facebook, trending tags on Twitter, Youtube Ads, Instagram posts, and so much more. The governments often responded to these posts and brought them up in interviews. This helps to maintain government transparency as it also incorporates the people’s expectations of how government officials should behave.
However, some inhibitors of social media within the government can include: security privacy, and accessibility.
Obviously, the overall safety of those who work in the government, is highly important. Therefore, certain measures need to be taken to ensure that social media can still play a huge role within the government, but not severely impact it in a negative way. There are certain rules and policies that have been put in place to ensure the safety of government officials who post on social media. They should exercise good judgement and avoid posting overly controversial and offensive material.
The privacy of those who post online on social media for the government, (or if they are affiliated with the government in any way), is of utmost importance, as it is for any person who posts online. As most government officials, such as Barack Obama, are also very famous, ensuring their privacy is paramount to ensuring their overall safety as well. This may affect the degree to which these people are accessible through social media, and many of them have whole teams who run their accounts. This ensures a degree of distance between the prying eyes of the public and the government.
The next part of this post talks about similarities and differences between the government and the private sector, in terms of the implementation and adoption of social media.
Generally, those in the public sector prefer, and desire, some form of a relation ship with those in government positions. Public sector members want to be able to have the ability to engage in some way with those in power so that they may have knowledge that their voices are being heard. Social media platforms such as Twitter are perfect for facilitating conversations such as these. It is a very simple way for the government and the public to communicate with each other. Twitter, Facebook, and occasionally Linkedin, let the public communicate and discuss important issues with those in power, and they can create polls and debates on hot topics.
A video that explains this very well is here:
However, those in the private sector find that social media is a way for them to build a community around themselves that share similar interests and loyalty to certain beliefs and opinions. Those in the private sector want to be able to create a positive image for themselves that will eventually become a positive outcome for them from a business perspective.
The attributes that both the public and private sector share is that they both use social media sites, albeit for different reasons, and they both find that using social media is particularly essential for making sure that their voices are heard and to make sure that there is a possibility of them getting what they want for the future.