Role of Social Networks in Public Administration Increases

29 november 2018

Do public authorities need accounts in social networks? Can they help make management decisions? The Analytical Center held a roundtable where it presented the research of federal authorities' activities in the most popular social networks.

"We have studied 41 federal executive authorities for this purpose. We have found that 98% of them have their own publics on Facebook, 90% on Twitter, 71% on Vkontakte. According to the number of followers, it can be concluded that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for Emergency Situations and the Ministry of Defence are the most popular authorities with citizens, i.e. people are interested most of all in the international situation and security," said the Deputy Head of the Department for Information Technologies Anatoly Karpenko.

If you compare the popularity of these federal executive authorities in social networks with the popularity of large commercial structures, specifically, they are way below Sberbank and MTS, but are superior to Aeroflot.

According to Mr Karpenko, as judged by the number of followers of various federal executive authorities in social networks, next to the security, in descending order, people are interested in such topics as education, pensions, roads, pricing, tourism and health. It results from the TOP 10 federal executive authorities:  the first three authorities are followed by the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Education, the Pension Fund, the Federal Road Agency, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, the Federal Tourism Agency and the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.

The research also notes that the number of followers of party leaders' publics exceeds many times the number of followers of their parliamentary factions.

"First of all, social networks represent a dialog, nobody is interested in a monologue here, so the feedback and real-time communication is the key to success," says the Head of the Department for Public Relations of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service Irina Kashunina. "The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service tries not only to comply with this rule, but also to communicate in social networks in plain language, using infographics and video." According to Ms Kashunina, publics in social networks allow to monitor problems and challenges, reduce negative attitude and explain the position of the department.

Sergey Nalobin, Deputy Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the ministry gives strategic attention to the work in social networks, including those in foreign languages, calling it the "digital diplomacy". In particular, Mr Nalobin noted the large popularity of so-called image accounts abroad which tell about positive things that happen in Russia. "All embassies and consulates general are focused on the work in social networks, it is of great interest," he said.

Daria Koryakovtseva, Director of the Department of Medialogiya, told about the technology and practice when studying newsworthy events and the response of citizens to the activities of public authorities. "The appearance of accounts of federal executive authorities elicits an extremely positive response of citizens," she said. "At the same time, the openness contributes to the change of the inquiry format – they are increasingly polite, with specific questions rather than highly emotional."

Alexey Grozny, Deputy Director of St. Petersburg Information and Analytical Center, told about the practical experience of analysts with the information obtained in social networks, in particular, during election campaigns and using surveys on social topics. Such surveys make it possible to consider opinions of residents on different issues on which the decisions are to be made.

"Social networks are more popular than websites because they are more convenient," said the expert of Infometer Project Center Egor Korobkin. In his opinion, citizens who face outdated tools offline can apply to public authorities using social networks. It is also convenient for the authorities themselves if they are really ready to work with people. But when working in social networks it is important to "forget" heavy formal language that can alienate potential followers.

The roundtable participants also came to the conclusion that as a result of the work of federal executive authorities in social networks, the confidence in the government increased and it became possible to adjust management decisions in real time considering the opinion of the country's residents.