Now govt to exploit social media for greater publicity
The Government of India has jumped into the social media bandwagon, finally! It will now have a specialized department to take its message to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites after the Union Cabinet approved the I&B ministry’s proposal to set up a new media wing.
Many believe it is a step ahead for the government to publicize its various initiatives in a broader way through social media platforms. Of course individuals in the government, including several ministers, officials and executives were always active on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms in the past, but this is a more holistic approach to enhance online visibility and address the communication and dissemination requirements.
“The new mechanism will have an opt-in and opt-out option. Those who have their own capacity for dissemination of information can continue to do so. Others can utilize this department for taking their message to the social media platforms,” said Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari.
According to him, officials will have latest gadgets, including smartphones, to keep in touch with the current developments on the social media. Moreover the research reference and training division (RRTD) of the ministry would be restructured and young officers of the ministry would be deputed in the new wing. It will be headed by an officer of joint secretary level. “The new wing will create content, track and analyze trends, act as an early warning system and also on providing proper response on the new media,” said a senior government official.
The cost to set up and run the New Media Wing will be a whopping Rs. 22.5 Crore which was allocated during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17). It was only waiting for approval. Social media is being used by several citizens to consume news. This is a way to increase the government’s presence online, officially, said Tiwari.
Although some raised the issue that it is an attempt to lift the government’s flagging image ahead of next year’s elections, others believe going social is very much the need of the hour. A McKinsey study estimated at the end of 2012, India had more than 150 million internet users, which is the same as the number of television sets in the country. Of this, 65 million are users of Facebook and Twitter has an estimated 35 million accounts. It may be just more than 10% of India’s 1.2 billion citizens, but it still puts the country among the top three internet markets in the world. It says that by 2020, India will have more people online than the United States. In such a scenario, government’s increased interest in the social media platform can help industry and citizen have a greater transparency on information and communication.
Currently, a team of graduates from IIM-C is helping out the government in this initiative, but the government may outsource the task to expert social media agencies at a later stage, said the official.
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