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On the Government of India’s ‘Framework and Guidelines for Use of Social Media’
Friday, September 9th, 2011

In the spirit of the “back to school” season, I’d like to share an example of a social media strategy that we can learn a few things from. Recently, the Government of India’s Department of Information Technology (DIT) released a draft of the “Framework and Guidelines for Use of Social Media by Government Organizations.” What’s even more interesting is that this document has been circulated for public consultation. The opportunity to provide feedback is open until the end of this month.

What strikes me most about this strategy is its robustness – it is not simply a declaration to support social media use. Rather, it seems to provides government organizations with a detailed strategy for conducting productive engagement with their stakeholders through social media. After reading through the document, there were three things that I especially liked:

1. The strategy articulates the underlying challenges associated with integrating social media into government practices:

“While at a personal level, the uptake and usage of such media is gaining rapid popularity, use and utility of such media for official purpose remain ambiguous. Many apprehensions remain including, but not limited to issues related to authorization to speak on behalf of department/agency, technologies and platform to use to communicate, scope of engagement, creating synergies between different channels of communication, compliance with existing legislations, etc.”

Understanding these complexities is essential for anyone hoping to leverage social media in a truly strategic way. This is especially relevant for government, as there will be strict protocol around corporate communications.

2. The strategy does not ignore the essentials. Determining “who, what, when, where and why” is always a critical first step to identifying your social media needs, expectations and limitations. This may seem like a no-brainer, but overlooking these fundamental questions (e.g. targeting the wrong audience, developing irrelevant content) is often at the root of unsuccessful social media campaigns.

3. The strategy speaks to some important nuances around social media. Perhaps the most important is the recognition that “social media is literally a 24/7 task… [so] the extant rules and regulations of media interaction do not fully apply to them.” In fact, the relentless pace of activity occuring on social media platforms (e.g. news can spread instantaneously and exponentially; people will expect instant updates and responses) makes it a unique, and often more demanding, channel for citizen-government interaction. The DIT also emphasizes the need for social media monitoring and analytics, which can help organizations increase their outreach overall by utilizing key data around online activity.

I’ve just glanced over what I think are some interesting features of this strategy, so I’m hoping that you take the time to look over it in more detail. Please visit http://mit.gov.in/content/social-media-framework-guidelines-government-organisations-draft-public-consultation to download a copy.

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