Social Media and Government: The Big(ger) Picture


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Presented at a Queensland State Government e-participation workshop, Brisbane, 30 Sep. 2009.

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Social Media and Government: The Big(ger) Picture

  1. 1. Social Media and Government: The Big(ger) Picture Dr Axel Bruns Associate Professor ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation Creative Industries Faculty Queensland University of Technology [email_address] –
  2. 2. Social Media <ul><li>Common characteristics: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open participation: self-selecting, self-managing communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fluid organisation: leaders emerge from the community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ongoing processes: participants compete, improve on each other’s work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Common property: shared ownership of community and its outcomes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>(Image: </li></ul>
  3. 3. Success in Social Media Engagement <ul><li>Engaging with social media communities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Be open. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For users (access) and with users (transparency). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seed community processes by providing content and tools. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Model desired behaviour, assist productive participation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support community dynamics and devolve responsibilities. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Engage promising community leaders as they emerge. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t exploit the community and its work. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drawing on their ideas is fine, but respect and acknowledge users. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>(Adapted from Bruns & Bahnisch. “ Social Media: State of the Art. ” Sydney: Smart Services CRC, 2009.) </li></ul>
  4. 4. (
  5. 7. What Platforms? <ul><li>Use existing platforms? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Potential to tap into established communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Better word-of-mouth opportunities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Faster deployment possible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Users reassured by trusted third-party platform provider </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But: loss of message / moderation control </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Build your own? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Longer development, but better feature / community control </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need for staff to seed and spruik community process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Build it and they will come’ not guaranteed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Potential user mistrust of government as platform provider </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But: no need to rely on third-party provider </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need to combine both in most cases: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>– e.g. own site for core information and specialist functionality, mainstream social media site for community engagement and word of mouth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>– Provide framework and tools for users to build their own: e.g. – offering government data for user mash-ups </li></ul></ul>
  6. 8. What Communities? <ul><li>Individuals, community? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Participation in social media often motivated by peers: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Viral word-of-mouth from friends </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Implicit or explicit competition for best contributions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Friendly peer pressure to join the community </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> From individual to communal ownership </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>What kind of community? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Broad-based, inclusive: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Widespread take-up difficult to achieve </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Diverse communities harder to (self-) manage </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>But: more diversity of voices, more democratic model </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Specialist, selective: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Possibility to tap into existing groups </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Users more committed and constructive </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>But: potentially elitist and exclusive model </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 9. (Archived version of first DBCDE blog post,
  8. 10. (Excerpt from comments to first DBCDE blog post, archived at
  9. 11. What relationships? <ul><li>Different models: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>g2g: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Internal services integration </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Unified Web portal </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cost savings </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not necessarily desired by users </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>g2c: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Better services delivery </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use of new communication technologies (Web, mobile) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>One-on-one relationship with users </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>c2c (or, g4c2c ): </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Government provision of community platforms </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Creating self-managing communities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Devolving responsibility to users </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cost savings, greater community resilience </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 12. What Initiatives? <ul><li>Wide range of e-Government, e-Democracy ideas: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to clearly articulate government and project aims </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to identify likely areas for early initiatives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Best to start with manageable areas: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Specific topics, specific communities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Limited geographic focus at first? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Work with existing online communities? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Survey projects and tools being developed elsewhere: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Government 2.0 Task Force </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> service to share best practice in e-government </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>e-Democracy (EDEM) conference series, and Centre for e-Government </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Council of Europe recommendations on e-democracy (with comprehensive list of e-democracy tools ) and Forum for the Future of Democracy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Modern Democracy magazine ’s e-democracy roadmap </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li> Where do we want to go from here? </li></ul>
  11. 13. (From Modern Democracy 1 (2009), pp. 8-9, )