Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Government should be cautious in social media use

By Chen Ping-hung and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Internet celebrity MonMon, back row third left, helps Hsinchu Mayor Lin Chih-chien, front center, promote walking tours of the city at an event on Sept. 24.

Photo: Hung Mei-hsiu, Taipei Times

Media and broadcast experts are urging the government to avoid over use of social media for policy announcements and promotions, as the speed at which information spreads on the Internet — for both good and bad — has become so fast.

Danny Lin (林柏蒼), former chief executive officer of the micro-blogging service Plurk, who also previously worked on Yahoo Messenger, said government agencies should have guidelines regarding the use of social networking Web sites for policy promotion.

Communicating with and managing an online community is an ongoing process of noticing minutiae within the group, and it is much more than simply budgeting a sum for the endeavor, Lin said.

Government agencies’ media or communications departments should be responsible for recruiting social network managers who can serve as the department’s voice on the Internet, he said.

These managers should provide reports analyzing media responses to government policy so that improvements or corrections can be made, Lin said.

Crisis-management should be handled with transparency and should be quick and neat, he added.

However, social networking Web sites are not the main platform on which the government should announce its policies, he said.

Instead, agencies should provide links to their own Web sites after making announcements on social media, allowing transparency and ease of access to information, Lin added.

Facebook is the predominant social networking site in Taiwan and its primary users are between the ages of 30 and 50 years old, the prime demographic to target with pictures or short videos with easy-to-read text to promote governmental policy, he said.

“Government agencies should avoid topics that might incite flame-wars to avoid losing focus on the government’s message,” he added.

Flame wars are when users engage each other in a lengthy and abusive back-and-forth over a particular subject or issue.

They should also refrain from overemphasizing the potential engagement on a post and should instead ensure that the public knows and understands the content of the policies, he said.

New policies would best be announced on specially created campaign sites — which should be easy on the eyes and accessible to the public — to offer the public a closer view of the policy, he said, adding that suitability of popular live-streamers should be assessed before they are approached to work with the government, as some of them might undercut the government’s message.

Governmental commissions to companies for policy promotions could focus on the wrong kinds of key performance indicators, which might result in “likes” and shares of a post, but could lose sight of the necessary balance they must keep for governmental policies, Lin said.

Instagram, highly favored by the younger generation, is more useful to promote easily understood concepts, but should not be the go-to medium for prolonged discussions, Lin added.

Du Sheng-tsung (杜聖聰), chair of Ming Chuan University’s radio and television department, said that while new platforms should be considered in the Internet age, one should not blindly select Internet celebrities or popular live-streamers to promote government policies simply because it is the trend in the corporate world or elsewhere.

The public should be told the logic behind any government policy, he said.

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