Often today when a company president is out of office, a secretary today might respond to your phone call by saying, “The President is not in today. You can leave a voicemail message, send an email, leave a blog comment, tweet, or send your contact information on Facebook.” This typical scene in modern offices is a clear example of how the private sector has learned to interact with customers through social media. Having gone through profound transformations over recent years as an electronic interface connecting people and businesses, social media has developed from simplifying bringing people together into a brand new type of communication exchange, where users can do everything from shopping to seeking medical attention. For nonprofits and governments that have been traditionally slow to adapt private sector innovations, the incentives to catch up have never been so plain to see.
The major social media websites today, including Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn and among others, are constantly developing new forms of communication that were never available before. New functionality includes highly interactive settings, web-based business profiles replacing all billboards, content sharing and advanced bulk communication helping out campaign and marketing. As a collaborative tool for job information sharing and reduction of hiring costs, new advances in interactive games and other mobile apps that have brought flexibility in the job market, even offering an easier lifestyle for many in the private sector.
Governments and nonprofits are only beginning to take advantage of social media to increase engagement with the public and as new interactive tools are utilized, citizens could find it easier to take a more active role in local and state government. Some social media success have been successful in streamlining government communications and services with real-time data communication and reporting, like the White House app which provides multi-media information sharing.
Social media has been a platform for far reaching fundraising campaigns and non-profits have seized the opportunity to expand their networks. Public managers have the opportunity to engage the public like never before and restoring trust at some point. With greater than 97% penetration rate of mobile devices, governments and other agencies are faced with real world challenge and opportunity to serve their people.
But the other side of the story is itchy. Social media is feared for its impact on public safety. As much as the platform helps create positive impact, there is a looming havoc. Cybercrime is on the increase and the implications are far and wide with its related flash mobs, swatting and gangs. In the quest to manage information and serve the public purpose, the social media is infiltrated with inaccurate news, information and malware that even destabilize information systems in both local and national government settings. Particularly in the field of information resources management, transparency and accountability becomes an issue when the social media and its hackers dig into public files and release information that may not be in the good light of government for public security purposes. The notion of posting stuffs on social media has overshadowed individual privacy and even the family life of the US President is discussed across the social media. The fear is not the interaction but it boils down to the amount of information out there that is not consistent with norms and values of organizations and individuals, which complicate the public intelligence service.
Social media is undoubtedly an awesome in innovation but leads to further drawbacks in individuals, corporate and national security setups. Governments and nonprofits should still get on board.