Our government goes social

By Andrea E Torres

With every entity – celebrity to business to glorified pets – on social media, it’s no surprise to see government agencies on social media. Think back to the 2008 Presidential Election and the role social media played in improving campaigns – that was only the beginning. Now you can find government agencies on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, you name it they’re on it. At first, it seems strange, but then you realize like everything else, our government and all its sectors has to evolve in order to stay relevant. Its constituents are active on social media, shamelessly and constantly posting about their political beliefs with such honesty.

Why its Good to See Government Good on Social Media

Social media improves communication between business, in this case the government, and its consumers. Having a free, open channel of communication is essential to any business. In the case of government agencies, social media 1) improves access to information, 2) humanizes the government, and more importantly 3) reinforces the importance of transparency. Additionally, social media is changing politics. If you state something that offends your constituents, you shall face the wrath of the Internet army.

1. Having better access to government information 

Seeing as the government holds a vast amount of information we need to continue our every day life and oblige to the law, it is crucial we access that information. More often than not, we find ourselves searching through pages and pages of information when all we need is one question answered on the DMV website. Nowadays, you can tweet your question, you can comment about your question, you can post your question – you are no longer forced to search for the answer. Rather than feeling alone on your quest for answers you can reach out directly. For example, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a blog for this very exact reason. On top of reposting information in layman’s terms, they tweet about available resources, law updates, events, emergencies, anything that a constituent might need.

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Photo courtesy of Mass.Gov Twitter

2. Humanizing the government 

Most of the time we view the government as machine run by greedy men in white wigs with dollar signs for eyes. Luckily, that isn’t true (anymore). With the power of social media we see that politicians, despite their career choices, are humans too. They have families, partake in hobbies, and like you and I, will take selfies every now and then. These small gestures mean so much when trying to win the vote of constituents or trying to improve your public appearance. In fact, 35% of Americans that follow politicians on social media do so because they feel more personally connected to the candidates, according to the Pew Research Internet Project. We know the First Family is active on social media and has been doing well on it since the President Election of 2008 but there are plenty of other agencies online. Even after elections, social media is key in realizing politicians and government officials are human.

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Image courtesy of the PEW Research Center

3. Importance of transparency 

We would like to think we live in world where the government is completely transparent. While it’s not 100% crystal clear, social media has improved transparency, directly and indirectly. Directly, government agencies and officials disclose information online by law and by personal choice. Indirectly, a government leak can turn into a social media sensation with enough hashtags to trend. More importantly, constituents can publish questions and point holes in areas that require attention easier than we’ve been able to do before. We can engage in conversations, spread awareness, demand answers – all within 140 characters.

In short, I support government agencies who seek to modernize and stay relevant. While they may not be the most sexy and exciting entity to follow, the benefits of seeing the government on social media is at least worth a glance.

Follow me on Twitter @Drea_Torres

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