Whilst it’s probably rather over-estimating the value of social media in a government context Empowered by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler is a useful look at the value of social media as both a tool that can be used by irate customers to get their revenge for poor service, along with how they can be used by employees to resolve customer issues. A summary of the Forrester summary of the book is kindly presented on Lee Hopkins’ Better Communications Results blog from Australia, who also nicely reproduces a table of pre and post the ’empowered era’.
This book leads up to the reason why government needs to be aware of social media, if not using it actively. The various security constraints on government, whether it’s fear of terrorists or legal challenge, may discourage them allowing staff to play with them, but if they aren’t really understanding how to use them, valuable feedback may be missed. Rather than a lock down at all times, it’s perhaps better to have an approach that permits limited and sensible use, whilst cracking down on that which is clearly abusing time and facilities?
Social media are changing and developing constantly, so being aware of what is happening is necessary, whilst actually spending a lot of government time using them is most likely wasteful.
As with life – moderation in all things – is possibly a useful motto in this context!