This report examines the impact that social media has had on government policy, as well as how to manage the associated risk and leverage the benefits of social media.
On 19 August 2010 the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA) convened a roundtable, to discuss "Social Media: What's the Risk?" The VMIA roundtable series is designed to highlight emerging issues in risk management. These forums have been specifically developed to enrich the thinking and promote the flow of ideas in an informal and robust setting.
Drawing together 16 Victorian Public Sector leaders, consultants and content experts, and facilitated by Micheal Axelsen, Director of Applied Insight, roundtable participants were asked to discuss the impact that social media has had on government policy, how to manage the associated risk and leverage the benefits of social media.
Jeff Floyd, General Manager Strategy & Risk at the VMIA, opened up the roundtable noting that "social media is a new toy, it's like when the dot com boom took off, we realised we were out of bricks and mortar and into a 'new world'. "
The term "Social Media" represents a group of internet-based applications that builds on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 and includes tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Skype, MySpace, LinkedIn, Flickr, wikis, blogs and other social networking sites.
These tools enable communities of interest to develop rapidly, to share information, collaborate on projects and solve problems as they emerge. Web 2.0 also encompasses the way in which the internet has become a platform for the distribution of vast quantities of data and the way in which it has empowered people and organisations to access and transform data into useful information via a myriad of new means.
These new tools and the culture of open collaboration which distinguishes the culture of Web 2.0 present important new challenges and possibilities for government. They offer new opportunities to refresh and deepen the enduring principles and values of government, while providing the impetus to improve the quality and responsiveness of government policy making and service delivery.
The challenges for government are to:
- keep up with the way citizens are now finding information and networking
- be prepared for key risks that social media presents
- educate and train public service staff about their obligations in the social media world
- analyse and capitalise on the opportunities that social media provides.