Government and social media

Hi guys

In this blog I will be talking about how the government and private sector use social media and how social media influences the government and vice versa. I will also be talking about why the government uses social media, in terms of what drives them and what could possibly stop them (negative effect of using social media).

The drivers of social media implementation and adoption in government

Governments all around the world are using social media as a way to connect and engage with the citizens, by keeping the up to date with the latest. They achieve this through social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and by writing blogs. A study has shown that by using social media 76% of the respondents agreed that “social media enabled us to have more meaningful interactions with constituents”.

In New Zealand there is a Twitter account for the Ministry of health where it can be used in emergencies uses to alert the public,. It can also be used to share news and event updates. The New Zealand police have Twitter and Facebook pages where they update and alert on criminal acts. Another example is the Civil defence, where they tweet advice on what to do during an emergencies, and they alert when there is one.

The risk that could potential come when governments use social media is:

  • The lost of public trust
  • Reputation could get damaged
  • Being secure, by insuring there is tight security
  • Sharing too much information


Figure 1: Social media in the election. 2016.

What are the similarities and differences of social media implementation, between government and private sector

The similarities are that both government and private sector, want to connect and engage with the public.

The differences are that the public sector uses social media as a way to connect to the public by sharing and informing them of the latest news, that could affect them like when it comes to emergencies or news about the law. Another difference is they use social media to show awareness of their campaigns and programs like the recruitment’s ones, but unlike the private sector its difficult for them to get the funds for this. This quote from Christopher Lagan sums up what the public sector is about “Our audience isn’t made up of customers but of fellow Americans. We’re not trying to sell them anything, we’re trying to give them ownership of and a stake in the process – for Coast Guard it’s a role in protecting life and property (theirs and their neighbors).”

Whereas for the private sector their purpose of using social media, is a way of marketing their organisation and trying to create an awareness of their brand and what they believe in.

How does social media affect governments and vice versa

A good example of this is the Obama presidential campaigns in 2008, where Obama used social media to send reminders to vote, while also using it to interact with the public. He achieved this really well that he counted more than 2 million American supporters on Facebook, while McCain had just over 600,000. It is because him and his team understood how to use social media to its fully advantage, that through social media websites like Facebook and Twitter he gained popularity, and it gave him the platform for him to spread his campaign message to a variety of people all across America.


Figure 2: Digital campaign. 2013.

In my view social media has been a great benefit for governments, especially during the elections, as it can help them reach out to the public and it can help them gain popularity while also promoting their campaign, but it is essential that they understand the risk that can come with using social media, and be prepared for when it may happen.

Hope this post has helped you understand the importance social media has to governments. Also with the benefits and the risk that come with it.


Figure 1: Gillespie, G. (2016). The Power of Social Media in the 2016 Election. (digital picture). Retrieved from

Figure 2: The Media Psychology Blog. (2013). How Obama Won the Social Media Battle in the 2012 Presidential Campaign. (digital picture). Retrieved from