It’s not just businesses and individuals who post tweet and blog about their lives, many government personnel also use social media for a number of reasons. Some have their own personal account only on Facebook and others use their own account as well as having a separate page which represents them in a more formal way. It promotes their political standing to anyone who wants to listen.
Is anybody out there????
There are two main differences in the accounts you can have on Facebook, an individual would have a personal account which they can search for friends and request Facebook friendship whereas a business opens a page, this page doesn’t have friends like the personal account, instead it is up to individuals to make the conscious decision to like your page, which then subscribes them as if they were a fan. So unless you are putting yourself out there and sharing good quality posts you’ll never be found!
Social media provides tools for sharing much of the knowledge which is not necessarily formally documented, it is more that of tacit knowledge and by sharing it often provides a great insight for both the hierarchy of the organisation as well as others (Mergel 2010). Numerous representatives of political parties have a Facebook page or Twitter account etc and this without doubt helps to reach those people they wouldn’t normally be able to address. Once upon a time (not so long ago actually) if you were wanting to find out about the different parties and question their agendas you would attend the local government meetings which were often held at the community centre, those of us who couldn’t make it for whatever reason had to rely on other forms of information such as that provided by the media, which is renowned for its bias.
Social media then, cuts out that middle man and gets straight to the people (or their PR people who are running their social media pages) for their replies to your questions, these replies are straight from the horses mouth, so to speak, not slanted in anyway which often can happen when it is noted by reporters and is then rewritten for the daily paper the next morning. It was President Obhama who called for increased openess throughout politics back in 2009 (Lee, 2012). Social media can definitely be credited for assisting in breaking down the political silos by encouraging the sharing of information and making these members easier to access and therefore I think they become more accountable, which can only be a good thing right?
Who controls who can say what on these platforms? Where does privacy come? Who decides it is Ok to reply to a question which has been asked on Social Media and include a recently discussed government document? These are all real drawbacks of Government representatives using Social Media to communicate with members of the public. The World Wide Web is huge and policing it is practically impossible. The tools available on the web means that news, good or bad, is able to travel real fast! This is something that applies to us all, not just those posting and tweeting about their political lives and campaigns, was we hit that share, tweet or post button the information is out there, anything which makes governments more transparent can only be a good thing!?!
Here’s a link to a video which is quite interesting, I think its worth a look.
Lee, G. & Kwak, Y. H. (2012). An open government maturity model for social media-based public engagement. Government Information Quarterly, 29, 492-503. http://ezproxy.massey.ac.nz/login?url=http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740624X1200086X
Mergel, I. (2010). The use of social media to dissolve knowledge silos in government. Accepted for publication in Public Administration Review http://faculty.maxwell.syr.edu/iamergel/files/Mergel%20-%202010%20-%20Minnowbrook.pdf