Politicians tend to forget how much they need the people the moment they get into office. They are often seen communicating with the people when they are campaigning for office but run out of what to say when they get into power. If you are one of those politicians who genuinely want to keep engaging with the people even after you have won the elections, this post is for you.
We will focus on local government authorities in Nigeria and how they can use social media effectively for citizen orientation.
One of the top priorities of those in authority should be how to keep the people educated and informed about governance issues that affect them. Research has shown that when people understand how the democratic process works citizenship becomes more participatory.
In the short term, participatory governance ensures that a government earns the trust of the people. In the long term, a more enlightened society leads to sustainable development. These two factors underscore the importance of citizenship orientation.
At the local government level, which is closest to the grassroots, using social media for citizen orientation can potentially save time – as the constituents get information in a more timely manner and much-needed resources for developmental efforts.
For example, imagine citizens who do not understand why they should properly dispose of their refuse. They will dump their refuse indiscriminately and the state would spend more money to clean up after them. How much easier it is to educate them about proper sanitation. The extra expenditure on waste management could be saved.
Traditional Media vs Social Media for Citizen Orientation
Before now, citizenship orientation was carried out using traditional communication systems especially, TV and radio. But, Nigerian society has progressed to the point where the internet has overtaken the traditional news media as the favourite source for information and has even become the source of news for the latter. It, therefore, goes without saying that local government authorities can effectively use social media for citizen orientation.
Additionally, communicating with the citizens on social media has been shown to give the authorities credibility. In fact, 61% of Nigerian internet users said that social media platforms have had a meaningful impact on government accountability.
So, by communicating with citizens on social media, you are building credibility for your government. You are also positioning yourself as an honest and trustworthy leader who is not afraid of being scrutinised by the citizens.
Citizen Orientation on Social Media
Generally, government officials tend to only communicate with their constituency when there is a PR crisis or when they have carried out a project. This style of communication has its roots in traditional media where space is limited and sometimes expensive. With social media, such constraints are non-existent. Thus, government officials have an opportunity to engage more with their constituents.
Here are some subjects for citizen engagement and orientation:
- Providing Governance Information: Constituents are often confused about where to go when they need help with functions carried out by the Local Government Authorities. For example, where do they pay levies? How much are the levies? Providing such needed information will always be welcomed by the constituents.
- Issuing Advisories: Will a road be closed for repairs? Is there security-related information to be relayed? Has there been a natural disaster or a community health emergency? These are all important issues that can form part of citizen orientation on social media.
- Voter Education: As the 2023 elections draw closer, voter education takes centre stage. Constituents need to be educated about how to register to vote and where they can register.
- Education about Immunisations and Vaccinations: The Local Government Authorities are in charge of child immunisations and vaccinations. Letting constituents know why they need to immunise their children and how to access the immunisations are proper subjects for citizen orientation.
Four Subjects for Citizen Engagement and Orientation
- Providing governance information
- Issuing advisories
- Voter education
- Education about immunisations and vaccinations.
It is not enough to acknowledge that social media can be used for citizen orientation, local government authorities need to take necessary steps to ensure that they have a well managed social media presence. A good place to start is to determine which social media platform is best to focus on. Why not book a consultation with Slvr Wlf and let us provide you with the needed guidance?