Government Establishments in Social Media – User Experiences and Expectations
This article is based on the author’s MA thesis defended at the Institute of Journalism and Communication of the University of Tartu and observes the users’ general expectations for the social media sites of government establishments.
The aim of the research was to establish what the users’ past experiences in communicating with government establishments via social network were like and what they wished/did not wish to find on social media sites. According to the responses given to the master’s thesis questionnaire, social media users acknowledge that the government establishments which are already represented in social media and actively communicate with their users meet their expectations. In a number of cases it appeared that the activity of a government establishment in social media was primarily restricted to sharing news, press releases and photographs, with few options for public opinion surveys. What the users of government establishments’ social media sites do not like is frequent excessive stand-offishness, officialese, dull mailing, familiarity, information deficiency, self-centredness and indifference. Users also feel that often a government establishment is not genuinely interested in engaging the general public. In conclusion, for successful implementation of social media, government establishments first of all need to consider the users of social media. If it is not clear what to do or how, users can always be asked about their expectations in connection with some topic, even simultaneously with disseminating information. Secondly, the social media channel needs to be connected with communication as a whole. In social networks, it is allowed to publish information from elsewhere; however, it has to be adapted for social media and possibly be made engaging for the general public. Thirdly, various channels interacting with the general public have to be connected, taking into consideration how they best supplement one another to achieve their aim. The plan of work describing the ways to introduce a topic to the society has to envisage which information is going to be published in the media as a press release, or as a bill on the home page; which can be presented as questions in social media; likewise, which kind of information requires more contemplation.