Governments all over the world are neck deep into a surge in demand for better people centric initiatives and a delivery of campaign promises faster primarily through social media. Progressive governments both at national and state levels in turn are leveraging this same new media to meet the demands of their citizens. Governments, worldwide, have social media accounts daily communicating with citizens and updating them on Government affairs. The importance of this type of data driven government should not be underestimated.
A key importance of an efficient social media presence is the interactive two way communication mechanism it provides, through which governments can not only inform their citizens about policies and on going projects but also gather feedback. New media has become increasingly important for communicating critical information in a short time span during emergencies.
Importantly, governments can share insights via Twitter and blogs to raise awareness and deliver their value proposition to a focused set of audience. Countries can also leverage on LinkedIn for promoting new business and economic initiatives that can lure back labour within their country. Social Media can also be a good tool to voice expectations, satisfaction and dissatisfaction towards initiatives and policies by citizens this in turn helps Governments to read into citizen sentiments, leading to a change in policies and improvement in services.
But Ghana seems to be left behind in all these victories. Why?
We witnessed so many game changing social media stories in the year 2016. Many governments scored big points on social media with their level of interactions or just simply some of the strategies they enacted. In march 2016, NASA’s #AYearInSpace campaign changed the way we all looked at astronauts. NASA Astronauts Scott Kelly & Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko returned from a one-year space mission aimed to test the limits of human endurance in space. With the month trending hashtag #AYearInSpace, astronaut Kelly constantly tweeted, posted content on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook (including Facebook Live Sessions), and SnapChat. This not only kept spectators constantly engaged, but got NASA new followership and applause. What a Strategy!
If there’s anything positive we can certainly say about Donald Trump is the fact that he has forever changed the way campaigns are run, with his use of social media during the 2016 US General elections. He used social media as his own tool against the general media. He turned twitter into the new medium for press releases and Facebook turned to another outlet for campaign rallies thanks to Facebook live.
We also recently saw the smooth transition of social media accounts between the Obama administration and the Trump administration. Handles were effectively handed over to new appointees and old accounts were appropriately backed up with similar handles, to avoid any identity crisis. These are progressive governments that truly know where they’re headed. But there’s not much that can be said for Ghana.
I recently did a quick search of President Nana Addo’s spokesperson; All I could find was a shabby looking Facebook page and no other social media presence. So many parastatals use Gmail accounts as official email channels, talk less of a social media presence. Aside President Nana and his Vice’s social media accounts (Which were setup by the good people at Statecraft), I’m not so certain other members of government have social media accounts, yet they have a ton of aides working for them. Talk about a financially inefficient administration….
Something truly needs to give. African governments need to start being people centric, and no better way to achieve this than by engaging citizens on social media – every tom, dick & harry is on social media these days. Many would say it has it’s cons, but there’s no denying the fact that social media has changed how governments interact with their citizens. It’s a new world & once again, Ghana should not be left behind.