Government and social media

I am surprised that my three major social media clients come from government agencies as I thought it would be the business corporations who will  be my major clients.

Strange but true.

A friend, formerly from the corporate communications department from a government department, said she wasn’t surprised as the objective of the government PR is to let the public know what the department is doing and what it has achieved.

As such, with the public reach that social media has these days, she wasn’t as surprised as me that my clients are coming from the government.

I am not complaining either as I found that the government agencies are quite gung-ho about new ideas to reach out to the public.

Content creation is a key component in my proposals and this has been evident in the work I  have done. Though many social media experts highlight the importance of content in social media, most of them feel to emphasis how this content be created.

The content mix includes posting external links, event coverage with photos and videos, even a one-liner tips for love to work.

With the advancement of consumer technology, I only need two devices to create content and publish them almost immediately online; my Dell Netbook and Nikon D5000.

Netbooks are lighter than their notebook counterparts and thus make it easy to carry around. Aided with my Starhub wireless mobile plan, I am able to upload photos and text immediately on the fly.

The Nikon D5000 is a dslr that comes with HD video recording – so video and photo taking in one single device. Though the time limit on the Nikon D5000 is 5 mins, it is good enough as most of the videos created is less than 3 mins long. Also, with an 8G SD card, memory space is no longer an issue.

Yes, there is an approval process before what gets published. Photos and simple one-liners, however, have been let to my discretion after achieving that trust between the clients and I.

I see more jumping onto the social media bandwagon next year but most of them do get the initial pull via advertisement but the activities fade as no content gets published online.

So I end the year by saying, content is King! Long live the King!


  1. Isman Tanuri  

    December 20, 2009 at 9:03 AM

    I agree with you very much on your assessment. I believe the crux of the matter is actually a very basic business 'worry': ROI. Having spoken to business leaders on social media and engaging the social web, the recurring question being asked is, what is the value of engagement in dollars.

    On the other hand, government agencies are more receptive to social media because it is viewed as a new engagement/communication channel. No defined monetary returns in the equation.

  2. Aaron Koh  

    December 20, 2009 at 11:03 PM

    Thanks for the comment Isman.

    One of the questions I get is can social media generate sales? Yes, it can if done with the objective of generating sales.

    For example, you could launch twitter promotions like what Dell does.

    The problem really is that a lot of the local businesses are not even internet ready for such Twitter promotions.

    The other problem is the business structure here in Singapore. Most of the offices here are Asia Pacific offices which look at pushing boxes.

    If one product not hitting target, most of the offices here just move on to the next product.

    Also, many see social media as a quick fix but it isn't. For example, you can set up a blog with one post or a fan page and expect immediately to be an instant hit.

    From my experience, such credibility takes 3 months to build or even more.

    I had one pitch where the client ask if I can increase their Google pagerank in one day via SEO.

    Also, going on social media requires the marketing team to be content creators and most of them are not trained to do.

    I have an experience of one client that focus so much on the design of the blog and not the content that till now, there is only entry which is the welcome entry.

    The idea of going on social media is what you want to share. Most of these spokespeople are limited by what they can share. So better to do nothing than to get into trouble.

    It is when the top US HQ asks why the AP office is not engaging social media in Asia and thus the Asia office put their feet on the acceleration to engage social media.

    In fact, a lot of these companies are not ready for basic PR. Public Relations, not Press Relations, mind you.

    The value that social media consultants can provide to these clients is the content creation part and not just on the tools.

    Besides being a social media consultant, one must also look to be a content strategist, online marketer, collaborator with other departments.

    Social Media is still in the infancy, but the generation who uses social media as their source of information will one day be the decision makers.

    There is a big difference if you start on your online strategy now than maybe a few years later. One of the difference is Google.

    Unfortunately, schools don't teach that so it is usually not in their mix.

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