When I was at university, I studied some psychology. I vividly remember learning about deindividualisation; losing the sense of individual responsibility for your actions (sometimes through a false sense of anonymity) leading to anti-normative behaviour. One of the lesser-known examples that the lecturer gave, was an experiment in 1973, where six males and six females (all strangers) were put in a dark room together. By the end of the first hour “participants began to get physical; half hugged each other, some became intimate” (my emphasis). In this instance, deindividualisation lead to non-aggressive behaviours, but more often than not, it goes the other way.
Imagine speaking at a conference, blindfolded, and not being able to hear the ambient reaction of the audience to your material (also, the audience is really, really big, and can permanently hyperlink to any of the comments you make). This is pretty much social media on the internet.
If social media is used well, organisations, individuals who work for organisations, and private individuals now have an unprecedented opportunity. This is an opportunity to both extend our reach, broadcasting messages to many others, and (more importantly) participate in existing relevant conversations.
Social media is now part of our communications ecosystem and is thus part of business as usual.
After feedback on the draft guidance on Social media monitoring and interaction, as well as further discussion with the Commission’s Trust and Values team, we’ve made some changes.
We’ve divided the document into two:
- Principles for Interaction with Social Media which sits next to the Standards of Integrity and Conduct on the Commission’s website
- Implementing social media monitoring which sits in the Web Guides: Strategy and Operations section on the new New Zealand Government Web Standards site
The Principles for Interaction have been stripped back to an even shorter and simpler form. This was to avoid any confusion that they may be in conflict with existing agency codes of conduct. The message is that the same old expectations of conduct apply on new media:
We must be fair, impartial, responsible, and trustworthy
When we use social media in a private capacity we must, as we always have had to, take care that we do not harm the reputation of our organisation.
No significant changes were made to the Implementing social media monitoring. As before, it duplicates the many guides available online that will help you monitor activity on social (and traditional) media as a means of managing your organisation’s reputation.
I feel that these pieces of guidance mark a maturation point for our use, and expectations of use, of social media.