Early in the month of September, the Indian Government of Ministry of IT & Communication released a social media strategy draft to be implemented at Government offices. It came with no surprise that finally the Indian government has got serious with the powers of social media. The draft that is made available on the Department of IT (DIT) website is a must read for all social media enthusiasts.
I have gone through it and I am proud to say that there has been an earnest dedication by the Indian government in preparing the draft. The draft takes care of all the nitty-gritty of social media. Right from explaining the definition of social media, emphasizing it’s need, importance of various social networks, the do’s and don’ts of social media, etc. the draft explores all corners in a very simple way.
As a social media enthusiast, I was excited to know more and my expectations were well appreciated by Vineeta Dixit, Principal Consultant, National e-Governance, Ministry of Communications and IT. The email interview we did to know more about the draft and the various facets associated to it is shared below:
1. Hi Vineeta, thanks for your time. Would love to know a bit about you and your role behind the social media draft.
I am Principal Consultant Awareness & Communication and Assessment at the National e-Governance Programme Management Unit at DIT. I have over 20 years experience in private sector in Business development and marketing. As an awareness consultant, my role includes exploring evolving media for creating awareness and engagement with different stakeholders. With the advent of mobile devices and increased usage of web2.0 technologies, it was felt that a formal framework was required to help the government agencies engage on these platforms. Therefore with the help of domain experts, legal experts and other stakeholders, the draft document was prepared.
2. It is being said that the final version of the draft would be prepared by the end of this year, is it true and how do you plan to take it further?
We do expect that we will be able to come to a final version of the document soon. Once the document is finalized and accepted, the guidelines will be circulated to all concerned and I am hopeful that the government agencies will be able to enhance their presence on and deepen their engagement on social media.
3. The Social Media Framework discussed in the draft is adapted from Rossdawson blog. Any specific reasons to use this framework and how did you zero on this?
The Rossdawson Blog had put up very succinctly the various elements of the framework. In my opinion the elements and the components of the framework were useful to us and acted as a guiding tool for refining our own approach to the framework.
4. According to the draft, initially the rollout would be for all e-governance projects. The challenge along with implementation would be educating the employees too. So how do you plan to do this?
While the primary responsibility of motivating employees would rest with the respective departments, DIT is working on a scheme where perhaps a Train the Trainer approach may be taken to speed up this process.
5. Government initiatives have been there in social media especially on Facebook. Govt2.In has a great community but it is just a one way communication and junkyard of links. What are your thoughts on it and will things improve after the implementation of this draft?
We all know how difficult it is to build and sustain a community especially an online community. What you refer as a junkyard of Links are a beginning of what that department may consider as a meaningful or relevant content. However, the guidelines will hopefully help them devise other strategies to make the interactions more meaningful and engaging.
6. Lastly, they say that if you are not ready for brickbats then you should keep a distance from social media. There will be for sure lot of negative sentiments as soon as government officials start engaging with people. How are you going to handle this situation?
I believe that everybody understands and bouquets will certainly be accompanied by brickbats – some legitimate others perhaps not so. However, the purpose of these engagements is not to collect bouquets or pretend that everything is hunky dory but to engage in real time with all stakeholders. I am sure that the departments will be able to respond to all legitimate concerns expressed on such fora.
Thanks Vineeta for sharing your thoughts and we hope that the government agencies incorporate social media to engage in real time. I will also take this opportunity to say that approaching Vineeta was quite easy and quick unlike the general norm we have for government officials and agencies. It sends out a great message but the real challenge will start from implementation phase to the continuous engagement process by government officials on the chosen social networks. We hope that the path of social media for governments turns into bouquets rather than brickbats.
What do you think about Government’s new move and are you skeptic that it will limit to the creation of inactive Facebook fan pages?