To The Leaders: Your Facebook Pages Are Ours, Not Yours

February 8, 2012

If you want to be a leader, have a Facebook page. If you want to be famous, have a Facebook page. If you want people to vote for you, have a Facebook page — because with a bit of money, you can create a fan base for yourself and become even more popular.
You can write whatever you think and people can say destxosh (thank you), click “like,” or post a comment against you, which of course is deleted by either you or your team. The end result is a page full of your statements and thoughts, and public praise.
This is a poor model for those who want to use Facebook to govern. Facebook is a tool that can be used in many ways for different reasons by different people; it all depends on what you want to do with it.
Social media (Facebook included) has changed many things — primarily journalism and governance. Not only did it change these two fields, but social media has become an actual tool of governance and journalism.
Social media has transformed journalism and turned it from being a lecture into a conversation. In the past the journalist was the service provider who gave information to the public, which simply received and had little opportunity to comment, respond or contribute. Today everyone is a journalist, everyone is commentator and everyone is a contributor. What you write or say is constantly being evaluated.
This has been extended to governance, but with an additional element of being held to account and being aware of what is going on among those who are being governed.
Social media presents a great opportunity for those who want to govern in the right way, or in a way that keeps them popular amongst their voters — but with the correct use of it. To have your Facebook page as an extension of the website that you publish your statements on is pointless.
Here, most of the leaders (and wannabe leaders) use their Facebook pages as an extension of their websites. They are still a one-way stream of information to the public; in other words, it’s the old system of communicating with the public. This is simply wrong. The idea of social media is to gauge the public’s reaction to you, your rule and your policies. Another important aspect is to show the public that you are hearing them and are acting on their demands.
While it is very difficult to respond to each and every comment, suggestion or demand made by the public, it is practical to ensure that a social media team is measuring the public mood correctly, reflecting that sentiment to the leader and not deleting every negative comment.
The leader, in turn, must do something with the feedback and demonstrate it by either responding, acting on it or demonstrating that they are listening because this will encourage better participation and governance.
To be on a social media site simply for the sake of having a social media presence could be counterproductive. If you want to be a player, you need to play fairly and abide by the rules of the game.
In short, the message to all leaders is: Your Facebook pages are ours, not yours.

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