Sunday, August 7, 2011

Does the government understand Social Media?

This is the comments made by DPM Teo in a dialogue with students.

I feel that this statement is not very valid. While social media is "very powerful in amplifying voices of people who are most articulate" Articulate or not, social media allows the public to have a direct feedback unlike the traditional one way broadcast the government is used to have. The truth is nobody needs to have a good command of English to comment on news or articles they read, they simply have to care.

"One negativity I personally don't like in social media is anonymity because it allows you to make statements without responsibilities. And I don't think we can have a responsible discussion if one is not asked to be responsible for what he says," Mr Teo said at a dialogue, Singaporeans in Conversation, with 250 students yesterday. "That results in a discussion which quite often becomes skewed and unproductive."

I do not believe that social media has anonymity. It takes time and effort to build trust, and anonymous posts will not be given much attention unless it is either interesting, humorous or inexplicably -- convincing.

Social media allows the government to crowdsource ideas, broadcast information and get real feedback from the masses. In terms of making statements without responsibilities, it is easier to spread rumors through coffee shop talks. For credibility and trustworthiness, reputation needs to be built, and this is a long process and cannot be done overnight.

The influencers in Singapore like Mr Brown, Mr Miyagi and other popular blogs all took time to build their reputation and create their following.

In terms of leaving anonymous feedback, if the government is willing to put the time to engage and understand the cause for the feedback, it might learn something new. Although there are times people may leave hurtful remarks which may seem to have no basis, but taking the time to investigate further may reveal whether it is a hoax or it is valid concerns which needs to be addressed.

Like any corporation which want to engage with their customers, it does take time, effort and the willingness to engage. Just having a Facebook page, Twitter account and a blog is not using Web 2.0 in the most effective way. It is a whole new change in mindset, policies that would support the engagement to be able to succeed.

-- Robin Low

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