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Governments embracing social media

Posted by: Nasreen


Social media has become an essential part of how we interact with our friends, community and even run our cities and countries. Governments are starting to take serious notice and incorporate social media into their own day-to-day actions.

It seems as if Governments and social media have reached a tentative partnership. The people in power are trying to figure out how best to approach online communities and their social tools to promote and market their campaigns.

Public social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be used to further promote government information and services. This could include setting up a LinkedIn group, or a Facebook group. By setting up a group in Facebook, for example, the government can bring people together who are employees with those who are interested in the same type of work and who are interested in getting involved in politics and agency work. Doing so expands the government's outreach capabilities and ability to interact.

The popular professional social networking site, LinkedIn, offers sections for jobs, service provider recommendations, and questions. These 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.

Public social networking sites can also be used for recruitment. Agencies could advertise jobs and answer questions about jobs on LinkedIn to attract students and professionals, provided they have already listed their central jobs on the government's official jobs site.

Public social networking sites are also a great way to announce events. Such as using Facebook to announce the opening events of parties or dinners held by the government. These networking sites with government partners can help achieve a government's mission.

Governments are starting to use social media to connect with their communities in new, open ways. Below are some examples to illustrate a few of the many ways government is embracing social media.

In Canada, the Government is using a method of crowdsourcing. Glen Murray, the Minister of Research and Innovation for the province of Ontario wanted to find a way to bring the public into the discussion following a social innovation summit. They created a crowdsourced wiki to help create an official policy paper on what the government’s approach to social innovation should be. It is similar to Wikipedia, and any user can add articles or edit submissions in a collaborative effort to create official policy.

In Russia, about a year ago, Dmitri Medvedev, Russia’s then and current president, paid a visit to Twitter’s offices and created an account and sent out his first official tweet. He is now an active user with more than half a million followers across four verified accounts.

His tweets are as much a way of sharing updates on the government as they are about humanizing the president, and the trend is being seen government wide.

Governments are slowly embracing the social networking platforms to communicate to their people and keep them well informed.

Comments (2)Add Comment
written by Jawellnofine, July 26, 2011
and the downside to governments embracing social media?
written by redsaid, July 26, 2011
Great, well-written post!

As with any medium, I suppose it all depends on HOW it is used. Do they employ it as just another soapbox/platform to further push their political agendas? Or do they use it to actively engage in dialogue with citizens, using it to address concerns and answer questions?

Even though I know that Zuma, like most heads of state and other VIPs, do not actually update their own social media platforms, a part of me harbours this fantasy that he does and that he'll become just as addicted to the Web as the rest of us, so that he will promptly order Internet in SA to become uncapped and cheap!

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