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The Government and the Social Media

In the digital era, social media fosters communication. It has become the most influential medium across ages with the development of new technologies. However, debates are still on whether social media is a boon or a bane.

Many research results have been published on the different effects of social media, both the advantages and disadvantages. Some researchers argue that social media influence greatly the lifestyle of the users. It serves as an instrument for learning, aids in business ventures, fosters family ties through constant communication, and updates the world’s situations.

Social media helps amplify advocacy efforts by potentially reaching more people, in more places, faster than ever before. The modern digital era means that social media will no longer be a stand-alone aspect of advocacy plans, but rather something that should be integrated at the most basic level.

In governance, almost every advocacy campaign can benefit from some form of social media. The perception is that social media reaches young people primarily, but its growth is explosive and far-reaching. Social media is a powerful trend that represents new methods for advocacy.

For this reason, the government has tapped social media for digital advocacy. Digital advocacy is the use of digital technology to contact, inform, and mobilize a group of concerned people around an issue or cause. The purpose of digital advocacy is to galvanize supporters to take action. Some of the most-used digital advocacy tools include websites, blogs, facebook, twitter, email, and texts.

Oliver T. Baccay of the Philippine Information Agency Region 2 studied the "Social Media Utilization as Input to Social Development Program Advocacy" in which he gauged the relationship and benefits of social media to government advocacy programs.

In his study, he found out that social media has great potential as a development advocacy campaign platform in support of e-governance and the transparency mechanism of the government.  As almost all of the students, from elementary to tertiary level, are aware of social media particularly facebook, youtube, google, and yahoo accounts, they are potential transmitters of these government advocacies to their parents. 

Considering that they belong to the majority of the population, communicating to them these government development advocacies could be initiated at a young age, then nurtured as they grow older.  Understanding these advocacies starting from a young age could potentially result in their greater participation in these development programs in their communities.

Related to this potential use of social media, the features of the advocacy materials posted over social media sites have something to do with the interest of students in reading or opening the materials. In particular, quality and impressive video graphics, up-to-date or interesting background music, well-known personality and cartoon characters, clear and concise narration, and beautiful slogs attract the attention of the students.

"Along these bits of information, there is a great potential for social media as a mode of reaching young people to be knowledgeable about government development programs in which they could actively participate," he said.

Baccay recommended that, as the population is increasingly composed of younger members, government agencies and other institutions must utilize social media to promote their advocacies not only to educate the students but also to bring to their attention the various programs that they can avail of and for governance transparency purposes.

He further said that government agencies and other institutions should maximize the use of facebook, youtube, yahoo and google sites.  To make them effective in getting the attention of the millennials, these advocacy campaigns should be designed with features that are aligned with the characteristics of the 21st-century generation. 

"Considerations should include the integration of audio-visual elements.  The message should be catchy and easy to understand to ensure memory recall for the young people to get hooked to it," Baccay said.

He also argued that the time element to publish the advocacy material also matters, hence, government agencies should consider primetime or study the peak hours of posting the materials on social media to target a higher probability of readership or viewership among student netizens.

Further, he also concluded that government agencies should refrain from posting seasonal advocacy materials on social media.  Instead, they should adopt a continuous scheme of disseminating advocacies for wider public awareness and consumption.

As new literacies are developed in schools, Baccay also recommended that learning institutions could become more active stakeholders in the promotion of government development programs by integrating advocacies in lessons, and embedding them in social media.  In so doing, the students become active in the promotion of these government advocacies.

In this study, it is very evident that social media is a boon to government advocacy. However, parents, guardians, or teachers' guidance is necessary as social media use may also induce negative effects on school children's mental and emotional well-being. (OTB/ PIA Region 2)

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Gene Baquiran


Region 2

I am simply amazing.

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