Getting local government to embrace social media

Friday 7 March 2014

The large waved Swinburne signage of the Advanced Manufacturing and Design Centre building in Hawthorn which faces East down Burwood Road.

Despite public support for government use of interactive technologies – or what is broadly termed Gov 2.0 – research shows that fear and uncertainty are hindering local government from making the shift to social media.

Khayri OmarPhD student, Swinburne University of Technology, has spent the last three years investigating whether interactive technologies are being harnessed by local government to deliver increased public value.

Mr Omar found that despite public support for interactive technology, nearly 40 per cent of local councils do not use social media sites to reach their online audience.

Mr Omar said that while local government may identify risks associated with Gov 2.0 and social media, these technologies provide value to citizens through collaboration and engagement with government.

“Citizens perceive very high social cohesion value through using social media and appreciate the opportunity to be able to engage with their local council.

“This research will provide a model for local government to evaluate the value of Gov 2.0, which can then be used to negate any fear and uncertainty that surrounds the use of these interactive platforms,” said Mr Omar.

Results of the research demonstrate a strong public value in relation to social media around timeliness, accountability, social cohesion and responsiveness.

This is the first qualitative research project to be undertaken on the public value of Gov 2.0 and was conducted in consultation with four local councils across Victoria.

Mr Omar, whose research was overseen by Associate Professors Rosemary Stockdale and Associate Professor Helana Scheepers of the Faculty of Business and Enterprise, Swinburne University, was awarded the 2012 Information and Communication Technologies Dean’s Award for Research Excellence.

Associate Professor Rosemary Stockdale and Khayri Omar will present their findings at the Social Media for the Public Sector Conference on the 21 and 22 May 2014.

Read more about this research in the latest edition of Venture.