3 ways to engage citizens using social mediaGohar Feroz KhanResearch: http://laton.wikispaces.com/Brief+VitaTwitter: @gfkhan Copyright 2013 Gohar Feroz Khan
What is Social Media? Social media consists of a variety of tools and technologies that includes: Collaborative projects (e.g., Wikipedia), Blogs (e.g., WordPress) and microblogs (e.g., Twitter), Content communities (e.g., YouTube), Social networking sites (e.g., Facebook), virtual game worlds (e.g., World of Warcraft), and Virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life).
How may governments engagecitizens using social media?Mainly, in three ways: 1. Socialize Government Information 2. Establish Mass Collaboration 3. Establish Social Transaction
1. Socialize Government Information First, public sector can leverage social media as an informational and participatory channel to increase citizen’s awareness and enable them to monitor and participate in government activities.
Socialization of informationcan be achieved in two ways: Simple information socialization, and Complex information socialization.
Simple informationsocialization Simple information socialization can be achieved through merely incorporating social media tools in the existing government websites. e.g. through incorporating comments and discussions feathures and through establishing dedicated social media pages/accounts (e.g. Facebook fan page or Twitter account) to delivery day-to-day information/news to the citizens.
Complex informationsocialization Complex information socialization requires establishing advance social media or web 2.0 based informational government portals for informational and participatory purposes, such as: http://maplight.org/ http://www.data.gov/about, and http://blogs.justice.gov/main/.
2. Establish Mass Collaboration Second, public sector can leverage social media tools to poster mass social collaboration between government and citizens and cross agency collaboration. Mass collaboration can be instrumental in crowd sourcing, regulation, and law enforcement.
Example 1 For example, the Peer-To-Patent (www.peertopatent.com) initiative by the Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) of the United States is a good example of mass government and citizen social collaboration in reinforcing regulations.
Example 2 Another example is the Korean government’s smart phone apps developed to enable mass collaboration in reporting illegal car parking, waste disposal, energy misuse, and reporting other inappropriate behaviour. Note: the author personally used some of the apps.
Example 3 Similarly, another good example of mass collaboration is the “apps for democracy” initiative: http://www.appsfordemocracy.org/appli cation-directory/). A U.S. government initiative to engage the public in developing new applications for democracy.
3. Establish Social Transaction Third, public sector can use social media tools to establish tangible online transactions with the citizens.
Example 1 For example, the U.K. government use a Web 2.0 based website (www.gov.uk) to provide simple, one-stop access to government services online where citizens can access to public services such as: tax, driving test, passport, births, deaths, marriages, and health care.
Example 2 Another example of using social media for service delivery is the “Fixmystreet” initiative: http://www.fixmystreet.com/) Where citizens using an interactive portal report a problem related to their locality (e.g. fly tipping, broken paving slabs, or street lighting) which is then forwarded to the council to fix the problem.
Final note An important use of the socialization of information is in situation where the immediate delivery of information/news is crucial, such as: disseminating news and information about public safety and in crisis management situations such as, weather, traffic, diseases, and nature or man- made disasters.
About the Author Gohar Feroz Khan is an Assistant Professor at Korea University of Technology & Education. His research interest includes, IT adoption, social information systems, and Social media. Note: the 3 steps presented here are based on our empirical study currently under review.