Government and Social Media

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my fifth blog post. Today I will be looking into the use of social media in government, particularly its drivers and inhibitors. I will also be discussing the similarities and differences of government versus private sector social media implementation and adoption.

With the far reaching benefits social media provides both individuals and businesses it is no surprise that the government are now incorporating it into their schedules. There are a number of different factors that have motivated this course of action, and some that challenge it also.

What are the drivers and inhibitors of social media implementation and adoption in government?

Drivers

The main drivers of social media implementation and adoption in government are collaboration, participation, empowerment and time. (As said by Science Direct.)

Collaboration

Social media narrows the channel between a government and its citizens and in turn strengthens the trust between the two. Lowering the level of intimidation and making citizens feel they are just as worthy of sharing their opinions as anyone in power is hugely rewarding for both parties.

Participation

The ease of use and undeniable benefits of social media are what encourage users to participate.

Empowerment

Social media is an immensely powerful tool for the government as it provides empowerment to its users. It acts as a foundation on which they can introduce and build their own personal voice. The ability to express one’s self via social media creates an air of self-worth and importance. This mindset, both triggered and allowed by the governments use of social media, is essential in maintaining a democratic status.

Time

The free and immediate nature of expression through social media is what makes it so valuable and appealing. It is an efficient form of communication in comparison to alternatives.

Inhibitors

While there are a number of factors that encourage the use of social media, there are just as many that threaten it. The main factors I believe are vulnerability, accessibility, usability and expense.

Vulnerability

With expression comes opinion and the inevitable concept of disagreement. With such extensive freedom some users are bound to use social media as a platform for accusations and negative content. The scale in which social media exists gives huge power to these accusations, making them able to sway large groups of people. This is a possible situation that makes the government vulnerable to public opinion.

Accessibility

Not all citizens will be able to use let alone access social media. All content shared on social media must then be mirrored and shared using other methods. To not do this would be to unfairly exclude those who are not users of social media. While this is not a huge barrier I believe that repeating information may risk tainting its content. It will lose its excitement and appeal if it appears numerous times.

Usability

It must be ensured that their social media pages are easy to navigate and understand or citizens simply will not bother pursuing them any further.

Expense

To run a successful social media page it is important it is updated regularly to keep users interested. For this to be possible someone must be responsible for doing so. For staff to take time out of their daily work routine (or to abandon it altogether and take up social media use full time) is costly. Resources must be allocated specifically, something that is a main factor when considering whether or not to implement and adopt social media.

What are the similarities and differences of government versus private sector social media implementation and adoption?

Similarities

Responsibility

The subject of both agendas holds great importance. They are both responsible for matters severe in nature, and are therefore both vulnerable to public scrutiny.

Differences

Pressure

The main difference I believe is the varying level of pressure placed on each party. Private sectors have slightly more leeway and freedom to experiment with different forms of social media. Any disasters are likely not detrimental and will be forgotten about soon enough. Government however, need to be on their ‘A’ game whenever posting any new content. A wrong word or a phrase taken the wrong way by one user is enough to spark a national discussion and evaluation on their intentions.

Popularity

From personal experience it seems as though the government are bigger users of social media than those in the private sector. Their involvement is extensive, as opposed to private sector businesses that appear to stick to conventional methods of advertising and marketing.

Competition

A main division between the government and private sector is the level of competition that exists. The private sector has more competition and therefore is likely to shape their content around the concept of comparison. Such a concern may take away from the content as they are too busy trying to compete with other businesses as opposed to guaranteeing quality.

Questions

  • Can you think of any more similarities of government versus private sector social media implementation and adoption?
  • What are some examples of both government and private sector run social media profiles?

Thank you!

Thanks for reading, hopefully you found this post useful.

Annie Moffatt

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