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Home Features The right tool for the job: social media in the public service
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PEOPLEHank Jongen, John Sheridan, Michael Coutts-Trotter, Strath Gordon
DEPARTMENTSDepartment of Finance, Department of Human Services, NSW Department of Families and Community Services, NSW Police
TAGS blogs, Communications, e-government, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, government 2.0, Instagram, Internet privacy, LinkedIn, mobile, mobile devices, Photo sharing, Social media, Technology, Twitter, Web 2.0, YouTube
Social media has emerged as a powerful tool for public sector organisations. But it’s just part of a holistic communications strategy, and it’s important to use the right tool for the job.
The tweeting of government has become deafening. Two million micro-messages later, digital engagement has reached some sort of zenith.
And it’s not just Twitter — other social media platforms are now widely used by government entities and their senior staff members in a professional capacity. Service-based agencies continue to use social media to replace or supplement their call centres and face-to-face contact options, while public servants are forming and joining online communities of practice, crowd-sourcing ideas, and breaking public consultation processes into bite-sized chunks.
When the 2012-13 State of the Service report was published, 75% of agencies were using social media to support business outcomes one way or another, and usage has only increased since.
Together, various online platforms offer the combined powers of publication, communication and dissemination at low cost and with relatively minimal training, making them a no-brainer for the public service. When your work either affects or directly serves at least some of the public, it makes sense to have a wide range of ways to connect with the public.
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Stephen Easton is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's previously reported for Canberra CityNews and worked on industry titles for The Intermedia Group.
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