We have seen how social media has been widely adopted by private organisation in the attempt to improve collaboration and communication outside and inside an organisation. Although businesses have been quick to adopt these technologies, public sectors have been less willing to do so with regulation and policies restricting information sharing.
The need for transparency in the public sector
In recent years government agencies have worked towards more openness and transparency in their actions. It has been recognized that with the efforts of more transparent communication and operation, government can increase public engagement in a demographic society. In response to this trend, President Obama issued a call for increased openness in government on his first day in office. In 2009 Open Government Directive was issued with three the principles of; transparency, participation, and collaboration. Since then social media has been used not only to achieve more transparency in government agencies, but has given politicians the tools to reach new voters, build trust, and maintain loyalty. This is very evident in the recent U.S election, where Donald Trump has made use of Twitter to voice his opinions, create awareness and persuade the public for their vote.
Eliminating information silos
The public sector is mostly regulated with rules in a hierarchy with fixed reporting structures. These policies and laws have restricted the communication and information sharing between agencies as well as within, creating what we call information silos. With past research and studies conducted, organisations have realized the benefits of information sharing and knowledge management. It has been recognized that in order to solve certain tasks, there needs to be vertical as well as horizontal communication channels within a organisations. Social media has provided a new way of sharing this information and eliminating some of the information silos within the public sector.
Concerns of social media use in public sector
As with private companies, we have seen that social media has created great opportunity for communication and collaboration, but it has also created opportunity for malicious or accidental confidential information leaks. There has been little research on how to effectively use tools for information sharing in the public sector. Social media has created the need for innovative research approaches in this area.
New Zealand Parliaments and social media
IN 2009 researched revealed that 80% of individuals over the age of 15 have used the internet in the previous twelve months. New Zealanders use the internet to find information that influence their opinions and attitudes; saying that it is a more important source of information than other media channels. Social media has been widely adopted by New Zealanders with Facebook the 2nd most popular website. Government officials have recognized the importance of social media exposure in NZ and have created their own Facebook accounts to connect with the public. Below is the figures for 2011