How government can make better use of social media emerged as a hot topic at the FutureGov Summit in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, yesterday (Wednesday 13th October). 200 public sector and industry thought leaders locked horns on ways to how to use social platforms more effectively and measure the impact of what one delegate called “the most powerful virus of the 21st century.”
Talking on a panel chaired by FutureGov Managing Editor Rob O’Brien (pictured), Adaire Fox-Martin, Vice President, Public Services, SAP Asia Pacific, suggested that Asian governments in the region should to establish a common framework for social media policy.
“We need to consider how government interfaces with social media to best capture its value,” she said. “One way would be to establish a common framework – and a big part of this is how we measure the medium.”
Janice Fedak, Deputy CIO for Business Management and Planning, Department of State, United States, said that this was a good idea, but warned against getting too preoccupied with metrics.
“We’re trying to win hearts and minds. We’re not necessarily looking to put a value on that,” said Fedak.
“There are so many intangibles with social media. If you spend too much time trying to measure it, there’s a danger that you lose sight of the original purpose of engaging.”
The State Department has just published a three-year plan, part of which is to groom a generation of ‘Digital Diplomats’.
“The Communities@State programme hosts several networks where non-IT people can easily share content while on the move,” Fedak explained.
She also revealed that the State Department has plans to set up a Facebook-like social networking tool to be used internally.
Yusuf Mansuri, First Assistant Secretary, Centrelink, Federal Government of Australia, urged delegates to take a more proactive approach to social media.
“Policy reform in Australia is being built around co-design,” he said. “Social media is a way to interact with citizens to help shape policy. But we need to develop a culture that is more proactive in its approach social media.”
To date, police departments had been the most active public sector agencies on social media in Asia, Fox-Martin pointed out, referring to a SAP survey conducted just before the Summit.
The FutureGov Summit, now in its sixth year, has drawn more than 130 government officials from 16 countries to the Sutera Harbour Resort in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia this week.