Social media include all computer technology-based platforms where people communicate within the shortest time possible. It is applied by one to reach one, or one to many, or many to one or many to many recipients.In Kenya, the government applies a host of social media platforms to enable its business. The most common channels are twitter, Face book, G+, Short message Service (SMS), e-mail web-hosting, chat rooms, virtual learning platforms, Skype and blogs.
Twitter is used to give shortened information about an undertaking by the government or a brief on a matter of public importance. It is also used on routine government issues which the public need to know. It is used to prevent crime, pass information to the public and get instant feedback
Face book is used by most government agencies to interact with the public and their employees. Important government functions like holidays, celebrations, achievements of milestones and exit and entry of top managers are relayed via face book. It also allows interaction between employees, management and the clientele serviced by each particular government department. Customer complaints, user document downloads and applications are found in this platform.
Short Message service (SMS)
The Short Messaging Service (SMS) is a social media interface enabled on mobile phone technology. Government departments used this media majorly for internal communication. It is applied especially when passing information that is only classified to individuals or section of individuals within a department. It is applied for tracking of identity carts, driving licences or passport applications and notification of urgent government meetings.
E-mail services are widely used by government officials both within and without the organisation. Within a government department emailing is used to task employees and give feedback from one level to another. Important announcements like job vacancies, applications for such vacancies, launching of complaints, reporting of corruption and posting of personal documents are done on this platform. It is also used as an identification means to access government portals.
All government ministries have serviceable web sites.. They enable clients to log in and inquire all manner of services they may require from time to time. The public also get access to download official documents which have been posted in such websites. On the other hand, the various ministries, post their policies, projects, requests for proposals, progress reports and upcoming events in such web pages for public information. With the internet, the government has introduced a variety of e-services. They include e-citizen, e-commerce, e-travel and e-tax. With e-citizen, the government has reduced paper-work in a significant proportion as applicants of passports, identity cards, and driving licences among other licences just go online, fill the requisite forms then wait for the process. The government licensed mobile phone operators to roll out money transfer services using internet interfaced with phone technology.
Web blogs are used by government ministries majorly to disseminate policy matters or explain rational for particular policy direction and get feedback from the citizens.
Some government departments in Kenya operate chat rooms. Here the clients engage the officials via internet and ask questions about issues affecting them and the attendant solutions. In educational institutions chat rooms are very handy in assisting students resolve their problems. This has greatly improved communication between the government officials and clients.
Virtual Learning Platform
Virtual learning has been embraced in major government universities within Kenya. A notable leader is Kenyatta University. Lessons are launched via virtual platform to students across and outside the country.
Skype is has not taken root but is rapidly developing in Kenya. A trial is being mooted to use Skype in the courts in order to protect vulnerable witnesses. One of the National universities in Kenya, the Kenyatta University, has adopted Skype usage to reach students using digital classes.
Importance of social media channels in the Government of Kenya
These channels are very important because, for one, they are instantaneous. A message reaches a larger number of people at the same time over a wide area. They ensure accuracy of the information. This is because almost all recipients get first hand information. Such information is usually free from distortion. They are convenient. Messaging is done within an office, on a motor highway, on air or on bed. The same message is decoded on the same places and interactions go on irrespective of positions of both the sender and recipient(s)
They are interactive. The persons so communicating are able to ask questions clarification and give comments on the same media without having to physically move to each other. Chat rooms are very important in that they allow one-to-one interaction between a client and an official. Issues are discussed and questions answered to the satisfaction of the client. Virtual learning is very important in that it enables a student to take lessons anywhere apart from class. Lecturers also need travel all over to meet the students. This therefore means that a lecturer can handle more than double the number of students at any given time.
In conclusion, social media is highly connecting the government and the citizens. It has also helped in reducing bureaucratic procedures of visiting government and private offices for services. It has also increased communication between the citizens and the government. – Paul Langat, Kenya