When thinking about social media individual, personalised social media comes into mind. But these days it is becoming more and more common for many Government departments and politicians to engage in social media use. I think Facebook and Twitter are the most common platforms used to get their messages across.
But, this can be both an advantage and a disadvantage if the posts are not monitored or even checked before they are posted out into the world! Take the most recent American elections for example. Donald Trump was a huge Twitter user, ranting and raving about anything or anybody and more often than not offending more than getting people onto his side!
But, back to New Zealand. Many Government departments, politicians and political parties use Twitter as a way of getting their messages out there to the people. Even the NZ Parliament has an official Twitter account as can be seen below.
Social media also has many benefits for Parliament and politicians by making information more transparent and accessible to the public. According to the NZ Parliament news archive it states that over 10,000 people follow Parliament’s Twitter account. And 105 of 121 MPs use Twitter to talk with people about their work. (https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/scl/privileges/news-archive/use-of-social-media-in-parliament-explored/). That is a huge amount of MPs using Twitter to get their messages across to their followers.
The following link provides a transcript on MPs use of social media and reporting on parliamentary proceedings: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/document/51HansD_20150916_00000020/privilege-consideration-of-report-of-privileges-committee. It noted that a senior member of the house had tweeted comments about the Speaker of the house and that many objected to this, which bought on the report to be done.
According to the Parliamentary Library Research paper dated 14 February 2011, at that time the National Party, and especially then Prime Minister John Key, were the most popular on Facebook with the most friends and likes. John Key had at the time 50,201 likes and 5,002 friends whereas today he has 250,005 likes. That is a massive increase in just six years and is a good indicator of his popularity in New Zealand. Compare this to Bill English, the current Prime Minister who took over from John Key and you can see that as of today he has 77,957 likes, which looks as though he is not so popular. Although, he is up from 691 likes in 2011.
When discussing the popularity of certain politicians in New Zealand one might take from the Facebook page likes to see how they are faring in the lead up to elections. But is this a clear snapshot of what New Zealanders really think?
Social media can also affect Governments and politicians as by having a Facebook or Twitter page, it is making it easier for their followers to message or leave comments on their sites. It helps the common everyday New Zealander make a change in policies or bring about awareness to a cause that they would like to see more Government action from.
But again, this can be both an advantage and a disadvantage as if a MP decides to go on a ‘rant’ so to speak, they may end up offending many people or leaking sensitive information that should not be out in the public eye (according to Parliament). It can make headlines and make issues messy for their political party and in the lead up to an election this could be especially damaging.
But, all in all I believe that it is essential that Government departments, Parliament, Politicians and Political Parties have an online presence. The Ministry of Health have on their website a great example of how they use Twitter to get news and alerts out to the public in real time, and not having to wait to do a press release on the traditional medias such as press, radio and television.
About the Ministry of Health Twitter account
Twitter is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as ‘tweets’.
The Ministry of Health uses Twitter for the distribution of alerts, news and event updates. It may also used during health emergencies to engage directly with the public and its stakeholders.
The Ministry currently operates one Twitter account: @minhealthnz. Go to: https://twitter.com/minhealthnz
The Ministry of Health’s Twitter account is managed by our Media team.
If you follow the Ministry’s Twitter account you can expect around 5 tweets a week covering topics including but not limited to:
invitations to provide feedback on issues we are consulting on
new content on the Ministry’s website
health advice for the public.
The Ministry also utilises other information channels and does not solely release news and announcements via Twitter.
The Ministry updates and monitors its Twitter account during office hours.
The Ministry does not automatically follow organisations or individuals who follow it.
The Ministry may follow relevant organisations including government agencies, organisations in the New Zealand health and disability sector and other parties where there is a clear link in communicating and receiving information.
The Ministry will generally not follow individuals unless they are known in a professional capacity and satisfy the business rule above.
Being followed by the Ministry does not imply endorsement of any kind.
As part of account maintenance and monitoring, the Ministry regularly reviews accounts it is following. This may result in unfollowing accounts.
The Ministry does not capture or record the contact details of parties following its Twitter accounts.
@Replies and direct messages
The Ministry welcomes feedback and ideas from its followers.
The Media team reads all @replies and direct messages and ensures that any emerging themes or helpful suggestions are forwarded to the relevant people in the Ministry.
The usual ways of contacting the Ministry for official correspondence are detailed in the Contact Us and Media Centre sections of the Ministry of Health website.
It is a convention among Twitter users to distinguish content using semantic tags (keywords), preceded by a # sign. This enables users to search and filter information based on keywords and share information more meaningfully. Hashtags also allow users to quickly identify ‘trending’ topics (as displayed on the Twitter.com homepage).
The Ministry will use hashtags when providing emergency communications through appropriately authorised staff. In this event it is likely that a common hashtag will already have been established and we would follow suit.
Unless they are already very short URLs, tweets will be shortened.
The Ministry may occasionally re-tweet content from other Twitter users. This can include on request on a case-by-case basis but generally we aim to honour such requests from:
other government departments
non-profit organisations (NGOs).
The Ministry will generally not re-tweet content from profit-making organisations.
The Ministry actively seeks opportunities to re-tweet content that contributes to the dissemination and exchange of useful information about health and disability-related topics.
Content includes but is not limited to:
research findings and statistics
relevant industry/business networking events, and
relevant celebrations/commemorations, eg, awards, themed days (eg, national ride to work day).
The Ministry acknowledges that About our Twitter Account is based on the Twitter Policy of the Department of Health, Victoria