Barack Obama’s use of social media in the lead-up to the recent US presidential election is well documented. Now in office, the Obama administration is making extensive use of social media to communicate and engage with citizens. In his blog, President Obama said governments “cannot meet the challenges of today with old habits and stale thinking."
Across the Atlantic, the UK Government is also leading a charge to embrace social media. The UK Cabinet Office has published guidelines encouraging civil servants to use the micro-blogging site Twitter.
In a 20-page document detailing the guidelines for its use, the UK Government suggests departments consider "tweeting" on “issues of relevance or upcoming events”.
Of course these social media tools are just some of the tactics used by the US and UK Governments, and fit within a much broader framework of communication and engagement.
Making use of the latest technology demonstrates a willingness to not only accept change, but also embrace it as part of a genuine attempt to improve dialogue between governments and communities.
In Australia, the Kevin07 campaign was a modest, yet reasonably successful, attempt to embrace new social media. Although there are a few examples of social media being used well by government departments (see for example the Victorian Police’s Twitter account, and Open Forum's National Human Rights Online Consultation), Australian Government at all levels have largely ignored this increasingly important communication channel and lag a long way behind their UK and US counterparts.
A Government 2.0 Taskforce has been established by the Federal Government, and some progress has been made, however significant work is still required to reach the standard that many - particularly youth - expect.