Towards a Two Way Symmetrical Approach for Government: The revolutionary tool of social media

Nowadays social media is everywhere and all kinds of organisations are using it. It is true that governments have already adapted to this revolution and are using Social Media platforms to promote campaigns and informative content. However, should they be doing more to truly engage with the public? Should more of a two-way symmetrical approach with social media be taken by governments?

Photo by Brett Jordan on

It seems that in today’s society, many organisations have learnt that they must join the social media world, to continue to build their brand image. Being a part of the social conversation has been proven to be an effective strategy. Big companies have been known to engage with customers across social media. A company like T-Mobile for example, uses its ‘pleasant and personable social presence‘ to respond to complaints/queries, something which works very well within their PR strategy.

This kind of ‘two-way symmetrical’ approach is a method put forward by scholars Grunig and Hunt, in 1984. They believed that this method was a sophisticated way of enhancing an organisation’s reputation, as opposed to the publicity/press-agency model and even more effective than the public information model, which government tends to utilise. This is perhaps because as Solis and Breakenridge identified, this method puts the ‘public back in Public Relations’  

 There is certainly an opportunity for government to embrace social media like many organisations do. The opinion of the government being out of touch with society is often perceived, particularly among younger generations. Using the two-way symmetrical approach they could communicate with their public immediately, and target the younger demographics effectively . Social media gives the public a voice, but the government must show that their voice has been heard, by engaging in a dialogue, to truly enhance their reputation with its citizens.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

A governmental campaign is now often posted on social media, but the real technique is using that post to generate a conversation. This should be particularly prevalent within government social media strategies, as they should always be looking for new ways to communicate with the public.

Just like visiting publics and constituencies, government and politicians should use social media, to establish better public relations, and ultimately  engaging with general public sentiment should help to inform their policy.

Government undoubtedly has room to adapt further, and should not shy away from the PR tool of social media.

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