5 Objections to Social Media in Government … and their Responses

How do we address the typical objections that we hear at government decision-making tables about the use of social media in government? Let’s face it, in any government organization there will be a mix of decision-makers who recognize the value of social media tools in government, and those who don’t. Here is a table of typical objections to social media in government and some suggested responses.



 1. Employees will waste their time on Facebook and other social networks. This is a question of trust. The same objection was raised for the telephone. If you don’t trust your employees, you are micromanaging them. Trust them, give them autonomy, and watch productivity and engagement metrics soar.
 2. What is the business value of social media? I’ve blogged about this before. From a high level, improved:

  1. Citizen engagement
  2. Employee engagement
  3. Communication and collaboration

Social media is a powerful platform that helps government expand service delivery channels, improve online customer services, and communicate directly with constituents on the web.

The best way to introduce the value of Gov 2.0 to decision-makers is to start small with one social media channel to address a single business problem. Put your energy into the initiative and make it work, preferable with performance measures. Then go back to the excutive table with your success.


 3. What about privacy concerns? Go to where the public already is: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, for example. Citizens have already shared their personal information with these social media sites. You are only engaging in conversations whey they are. Obviously, do not share entrusted personal information over the internet. In a public social network (like Facebook, Youtube, or Twitter) facilitated by federal, provincial or local government, encourage participants to provide feedback, and upload pictures and video. Be sure of your privacy laws before uploading citizen personal information, including videos, photos and opinions. Check out British Columbia’s Social Media Guidelines as a starting point, understanding that every jurisdiction will have different privacy laws.
 4. How do I control  official government communications?  You still can. Think of social media as just another communication channel, like the telephone, front counter, and website.
 5. What about the ROI? A lot has been written about this. Google “ROI” and “Gov 2.0” or check out this article on Gov 2.0 metrics. The most important point here is that you don’t use social media for the sake of social media. You need a business problem you want to address with social media. For example, employee engagement, improved collaboration, or citizen engagement. You need a specific purpose like updating citizens on the progress of a natural disaster such as forest fires or floods, or perhaps the outbreak of a dangerous virus. There is a new Microsoft Excel-based tool that can be used by government agencies to quickly assess the public value of their Gov 2.0 initiative.


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