Citizens across the World still elect their Governments as they did a century ago. While the process of Government formation has not changed, Social Media in Government could be a powerful tool in running Nations in collaboration with ordinary citizens. Are the Governments listening?Social Media in Government when put to structured use can generate positive momentum in the areas of Activism, Public Life and Governance. Some of the trends and opportunities that offer potential are as under.Trends – Social Media in Government(i) Democratization of Public ViewsThe Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression always needed a tool to be potent. And Social Media has rightfully claimed that spot. Social media has become an important tool in the hands of a common man to express himself freely. Social Media has enabled democratization of views from every strata of society on every imaginable subject. While earlier, it was only Government, Businesses and Organizations who could reach out to the masses through mass communication, a common man himself had no say except through ‘letters to the editor’ and face-to-face meetings. Social Media has leveled the playground. It has given David the power to take on Goliath.ii) Self-Fulfilling ProphecyWhile Social Media allows democratization, there is also clustering due to reinforcing of similar views. Tolerance to differing views is absent owing to a degree of emotion attached to the subject. While a newspaper would give different perspectives and leave it to a reader to choose from, social media can reinforce just one view thus can become misleading.iii) ManipulationManipulation of public views is not yet a grave concern, but increased Government control on freedom of speech could encourage elements – positive and negative – to engage in intrusion. And this can be undertaken by masking and jockeying IP addresses and associated IT infrastructure.

Opportunities – Social Media in Government

i) Citizen CollaborationGovernments all over the World could exploit the universal power of Social Media to test public reactions before making policy decisions that directly impact citizens. For example, the Government of India could have tested public response to the recent petrol price hike, before actually notifying it.ii) Public MovementsAs demonstrated in Egypt and in the anti-corruption crusade in India, Social Media can galvanize pent up citizen matters.iii) Disaster and Crisis ManagementThe viral nature of Social Media provides the needed velocity to information dissemination especially during the times of crisis when phone networks invariably fail.As a common citizen, how have you been leveraging Social Media to add value into Public Life and Governance?This blog post is brought to you by Inbound Mantra - a Data Driven Inbound Marketing Agency.