Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Social Media for public administrations: opportunities and challenges


Published on

My presentation at the European Project eCitizens II, event organized by Municipality of Bologna, Italy. My speech was about the role of social media for public communication, focus on the potentialities of these platforms for administrations. Moreover I also discuss some empirical outputs coming from some studies I did with some colleagues. In the last part I discussed the managerial implications and guidelines

Published in: Education, Technology, Business
  • Login to see the comments

Social Media for public administrations: opportunities and challenges

  1. 1. SOCIAL PAs AND NETWORKED CITIZENS Communication Strategies and Organizational Changes Università degli Studi di Siena Alessandro Lovari Department of Communication 1Bologna 6 March 2012 – eCitizen II Joint Seminar
  2. 2. What we are going to talk about today:• What are social media and their impact on Public Administrations• The new role of citizens• Effects on public communication strategies• Organizational implications and changes• Toward guidelines 2
  3. 3. Excuse me! What are Social Media?It is difficult to give a precise definition.Many authors and scholars gave their definition focusing on technologicalor social perspectives (boyd, 2008; Shirky, 2008; Qualman, 2010).Social media are “a group of Internet-based applications that buildon theideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and thatallow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content” (Kaplan& Haenlein, 2010, p. 31).It is an umbrella term embracing several applications and interactiveplatforms.In particular there are 6 types of social media: - Collaborative projects (i.e. Wikipedia), - Blog- Content communities (YouTube e Flickr),- Social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn),-Virtual game worlds (World of Warcraft) Pagina 3- Virtual social worlds (Second Life).
  4. 4. SM become a “hot issue”In the public sector the use of social mediais becoming a hot issue:> on one side institutions and governmentagencies are enriching theircommunication mix with interactiveonline platforms to connect and bettercommunicate with citizens and stake-holders;< on the other side media consumptionpatterns reveal an increasing importanceof social media in citizens’ communicationmix (Nielsen, 2011; Pew, 2011; Censis2011). 4
  5. 5. Why this is happening right now?Several reasons:There is a general request for a new phase oftransparency, openness and participation for PAs (Sirianni, 2009;Noveck, 2009) where citizens can have an active role instimulating innovative services and practices of communication anddialogue (van Dijck, 2009; Shirky, 2008; Tapscott, 2009).Evolution of media consumption – emerging patterns forinformation scouting related to civic and governamental issue(Smith, 2010; Istat, 2011)Media coverage:mainstream media set the agenda on social mediaand SNS in particular (West, 2005) .Bandwagon effect: citizens go social, brands go social….whyshouldn’t PA? 5
  6. 6. PAs go social ☺In this scenario Public Administrations are evaluating socialmedia, and social network sites in particular, as an opportunityand a challenge (Quocirca, 2007; Human Capital Institute, 2010).The positive echo of these innovations is influencing many publicagencies all over the world, stimulating administrations andpublic managers to create or colonize interactive andparticipatory platforms to connect with citizens and otherpublics.Some institutions in North America, Europe and Asia are adoptingsocial network sites with an internal focused purpose such as tostimulate employee learning and development or, most often,with an external function to foster communication and civicparticipation (Human Capital Institute, 2010; Kuzma, 2009; Serrat,2010; Lovari & Parisi, 2012). 6
  7. 7. Social Media: the reasons why.. Community Citizen informationTransparency City branding Sourcing Dissolve PAs dedided to invest and use Silos of Knowledge social media for many reasons Listening Live and streaming of Crisis customer events Management Partecipation satisfaction 7Public involvement spectrum in decision making
  8. 8. Some examples 8
  9. 9. 9
  10. 10. PAs’ footprints on Social Media There is a lack of empirical researches on the presence of Italian PAs on the main social media platforms. There is a rich debate in PAs but this topic it is not sistematically studied by associations and university researchers. Main studies on this topic are: • Comuni 2.0 - Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia – April 2011 • TwitterPA - Giovanni Arata - November 2011 • Social media and Italian Universities – Alessandro Lovari and Fabio Giglietto – december 2011 10
  11. 11. No official profiles? Let’s party!!In the case PAs do not (want to) to create and manage an official presence on SM, Public Administrations and their services become a topic of conversation in the Social Web.According to Solis e Breakenridge (2009, p. 153): “if you are not part of the conversation, answer, questions, suggestions, complaints, observations, and eventually incorrect perceptions will go unmanaged, unresolved, and unchallenged. Even worse, competition or uninformed peers will step in and engage communities in your absence”.There are many cases of counterfeit pages and fake profiles of municipalities and PAs in general, created by citizens.Manipulation of public communication vs partnership with citizens who substituted PAs. 11
  12. 12. SM? Not just for teens! The SM users are not just teenagers or digital natives. The biggest increase in the use of these media is in the age range of adults (Pew, 2009; Madden, 2010)In Italy:67,8% of Italians knows atleast one SM. It is about 33.5milions of people.Facebook is used by 49% ofInternet users (88.1% amongteenagers), while YouTube isused by 54.5% of users (86,5%a.t.). 12 (Censis, 2011)
  13. 13. Empowering Citizens..Thanks to SM citizens can have an active role in producing and sharinginformation related to PAs; they can contribute to create new services, orreshaping the existing ones, remixing data and activities; they can developsingular or collective actions.Citizens can raise their public voice toward PAs (Rheingold, 2008)Pew Research Center (Smith, 2010) defines ‘government social mediausers’ those citizens using digital tools other than web-sites to searchand get information from government agencies and institutions.The study reports also the existence of ‘online government participators’,: they actively participate in online debates about government policies orpublic issues.Citizens are active sources in the informational network especially in localcommunities: 41% of adults can be labeled as “local newspartecipators” because they produce information about local communitiesvia social media (Rosentiel et alii, 2011). 13
  14. 14. Toward Networked Citizens Citizens who activate themselves within civic frames, thanks to the digital networks. They are active in digital and off line environments to scout information and express their public voice They consider PA as a valuable node in their networks.The existence of connected communities 14
  15. 15. Which are the communicationstrategies adopted by PAs? 15
  16. 16. Searching for a SM communicationstrategyMergel (2010) identified three different strategies of social mediacolonization by public administrations, starting from an analysis of theexisting platforms in the USA:(a)‘Push strategy’, in which a social medium is used as anadditional tool and as an extension of an existing Internet presence;(b) ‘Pull strategy’ using social media applications to bring publicsback to the institutions’ websites;(c)‘Networking strategy’, where institutions adopt social media tostimulate interaction with users and reach specific publics in orderto share and create knowledge. 16
  17. 17. An empirical study: Italian municipalitiesand FacebookProvide an exploratory description of the prevalent uses of FB pages by Italian municipalities.Pilot study investigating the online interactions emerging in the Facebook Pages of 4 Italian capital cities of provinces for 6 months:Rimini – Modena - Reggio nell’Emilia - VeneziaAll these municipalities satisfied the following conditions:• Municipality of medium-big size (inhabitants between 100,000 and 300,000);• The presence in the first 30 positions of Italian rating regarding the so called “Digital Cities”;• Facebook institutional pages created in 2009 in order to analyse 6 months of online interaction Pagina 17 Source: with citizens. Lovari A. Parisi L., Public administrations and citizens 2.0, in Comunello F. (2012), Networked sociability and individualism, IGI Global, Hershey, PA.
  19. 19. Let’s post it again!What are the main topics published in theFacebook Walls?1. Information about public services and opportunities for citizens2. Events promotion3. Online communication self-promotion4. Alert about emergencies and disservices5. Call for civic participation6. News related to municipality life7. Culture and civic heritage discovery8. City images display9. Other Source: Lovari A. Parisi L., Public administrations and citizens 2.0, in Comunello F. (2012), Networked sociability and individualism, IGI Global, Hershey, PA. 19
  20. 20. What I wanna post today…. Municipality Walls show traits of different communication strategies adopted by PAs to reach different objectives in a situational perspective: a) to spread information about municipality services; b) to publicize events organized by PAs; c) to stimulate citizens’ participation about public and civic issues; d) to alert citizens about disservices and emergencies.Source: Masini M., Lovari A., Benenati S. (2010), Dal digital divide ai media sociali, Bonanno Editore, Roma-Acireale 20
  21. 21. Some examples ofevents’promotion andothercommunicationstrategies 21
  22. 22. Facebook for activating civicnessMunicipality of Modena uses FB fan page as a tool for enhancingcivic memory and belonging.Adopting quizzes and games the Page stimulates the interest and theparticipation of citizens, revitalising a communitarian sense ofbelonging to the city life and to its historyComments and likes are very frequent. Participants belong todifferent age ranges, stimulating competition between generations. 22
  23. 23. Facebook for listening citizensMunicipality of Rimini uses FB as an expansion of the Office forPublic Relations (URP).Facebook is used as an additional channel to publish news regardingcity opportunities and public services and to host and to reply toquestions raised by inhabitants addressing them to different officesand departments.It becomes a strategic listening tool. 23
  24. 24. Innovative use of FB Wall by RiminiEvery post published by citizens is recorded and managed in order toproperly solve the requests involving other Departments or the Mayor.The number of the dossier is published on the Facebook Wall and itcan help citizens to track their requests.It increases transparency and accountability and it raises theexpectations of efficency toward citizens. 24
  25. 25. Organizational Implications and Changes• It is necessary to identify the office/structure in charge of managing social media - Communication? ICT? Press Office? - In-house vs Outsourcing - Xmas vs Office Hours• Connect the social media presence (digital front office) to the back office of the PA.• The presence of SM modifies not only the Communication Office but all the connections/working flows between the different PAs’ Departments. The importance to create an internal network of referees.• The importance of cyberscanning activities to monitor digital environment regading PAs• It becomes fundamental an activity of training to understand the value of social media and web 2.0 applications: how to use them in 25 the context of the administrations, defining the respective roles.
  26. 26. Giving feedback to citizensPAs’ presence on social media is a marker of identity.Official SM presences should be instituzionalizePAs do not have just to publish messages but they have to show how they channel the citizens’ feedback and public voices.It becomes important to address ways to inform, visualize, distribute and create feedback mechanisms in order that citizens feel their inputs has been received and processed. Managers must provide a clear explanation to citizens about how their digital inputs (voices) will be used in administration decision making processes. 26 Source: Nabatchi, Mergel (2010)
  27. 27. Searching for Guidelines Lee and Elser (2010) proposed 9 Commandments public administrations should follow to reach an effective social media strategy:a) Use SM if it is possible to identify a tangible mission-relatedreason for using it;b) PA has the duty of accountability in a democracyc) SM works only if the PA is committed to its maintenance andoperationd) Beware of the temptation of the populatione) Integrate with the existing external communication activitiesf) Remember the KISS principleg) Use of two-way and one-way communication (different profiles)h) A strength of SM is public outreach 27
  28. 28. Between Hints and Guidelines• Insert SM in a Multichannel Communication Strategy• Adopt a social media communication plan coordinated and integrated with the general communication plan.• Identify a clear strategy and a policy for posting and replying to citizens. Share the policy with top managers and with citizens.• Monitor the effects and redemption of PAs’ SM strategy• Do not mix or intertwin political communication with public communication (platforms, news structure, policy)• Do not do it in the old way! (broadcasting vs conversational public communication)• Try to engage with citizens and use SM as a listening tool 28
  29. 29. Thank you for your attention For further information and feedbackemail: Titolo Presentazione Twitter: @alelovari 07/03/2012 Pagina 29 29