Government and Government officials are often criticized for not being open on social media. However, things seem to be changing steadily. U.S. Embassy India has taken a bold step, which probably might change the tarnished image of government officials. The US Embassy India, an active participant on Facebook, has organized a wall chat today at 9:30 A.M. (IST) with Robert Blake, as reported by WAT Blog last evening.
Robert is a senior official within the US government coordinating U.S. Policy with South and Central Asia. The Facebook brand page is a delight to watch since it has very effectively adopted the new timeline for the brand pages. The page, which has a community of more than 850, has already shown a healthy response to this move. If you check the comments section of the post, you will see people pouring in from all over Asia and sharing thoughts and questions for Robert to answer.
I must say it is a bold move. We are so used to seeing government officials trying to avoid engagement on social media for fear of the backlash it involves. Hence, this is not only a great move but is setting examples for others too. In fact the India Embassy US Facebook page is not doing bad either and one of the reasons is that the initiative is led by Nirupama Roy, the Indian Ambassador for US as well as a social media enthusiast. She had been in the news for her efforts of getting Indians evacuated from Libya and using Twitter as a channel of communication and sharing information.
In addition to making fans happy, I am sure small gestures like these also get them to believe that social media is not a fad. It all depends on how creatively we use it to reach out to our own people. Imagine for a moment – if our Finance Minister comes online and listens to his countrymen before the budget is being formed and also talks to us after the budget. Of course, this would need to be planned properly before execution as well as monitored too. But then it is possible only if the Government has the will. So lets wait and watch till we see any such activity from PMOIndia that is trying hard to create a presence on social media.
So if you are bothered by any of the US policies against South and Central Asia or want to appreciate the good work done by the US Officials, then do log onto the Facebook fan page by 9:30 A.M. (IST). Perhaps, it may be interesting to watch Robert answer some really sensitive questions or dodge them altogether.