19Jul, 2018

When Leaders Use Social Media To Communicate

public relations, When Leaders Use Social Media To Communicate-Public Relations Portal and Communications Business News Indonesia

@Jokowi Kita ini adalah saudara. Jangan saling menghujat, menjelekkan, memfitnah, saling mendemo (We are brothers. Let us not use blasphemy; vilify; defame and protest against each other)

@Jokowi Saya perintahkan Kapolri dan Panglima TNI untuk tidak ragu2 menindak segala ucapan & tindakan yang mengganggu persatuan dan persaudaraan (I have instructed the Police and Armed Forces Chiefs to not hesitate in cracking down all remarks and activities that is disrupting our unity and the nation’s brotherhood)

@realDonaldTrump While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!

@realDonaldTrump It was my great honor to welcome President @JC_Varela & Mrs. Varela from Panama this afternoon.

@Pontifex I invite you not to build walls but bridges, to conquer evil with good, offence with forgiveness, to live in peace with everyone.

 @KingSalman I wish you a blessed Ramadan. Praying to Allah to protect our country, Muslim nations, & the world from all evils.

 @Queen_Europe OK, fuck you Donald. You know what? I’m not actually the Chancellor of Germany. I’m a Londoner, and you are out of fucking line with this.

 @theresa_may If we get Brexit right, we can do great things as a country. Vote for me and my team to deliver a brighter future for everyone.

 @PutinRF Telephone conversation with President of #Bulgaria Rumen Radev

We can go on and have fun at reading all the tweets of the world’s leaders, from those who sounds presidential to those who doesn’t care how they express themselves in public. But one thing is for sure; you would not have imagined 10 to 20 years ago leaders of the world would express themselves in public where the world can instantly read it in an instant. An undeniable fact that social media has made a profound change in how people in the world are communicating amongst themselves: be it an official statement or a text of self expression easily disseminated around the globe and in no time. The boundary that separates official statement and self-expression is now being torn down by the unlimited and borderless communication medium held in the palm of your hand and at the command of your fingertips.

Almost all leaders of the world are now using social media in making statements and no one can define nor characterize whether such statements is official or personal expression. For when Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings or Queens speaks publicly, it carries weight and somehow become a policy, if not for the country at least seen it as a leader’s directive. Somehow, social media has disrupted the traditional flow of communication from leaders around the world. It has made communication protocol scrambling to justify the use of social media against the usual bureaucratic flow from the president to the press secretary and to the press. Since former US President Obama used his BlackBerry Messenger as his private texting line, it was already a sign that social media was beginning to disrupt communication bureaucracy that unfortunately has been a trademark of every government officials.

So, how ‘official’ is a text through social media being official? A leader that signs a written statement on an official paper is considered the product of his thoughts hence becoming an official statement. Would a leader’s thoughts in the form of text in a social media be considered the same thing? Would an army follow the order of a president to go to war from a tweet? Of course not! (?) But a nation leader expressing his thoughts on a popular issue can be considered as stating his position on the matter. What would then be the role and value of a spokesperson or press secretary for leader as he speaks in a press conference when the leader has expressed his thoughts through social media for everybody to read? Would the media quote leaders originating from social media and make it into the news? (Yes! It’s been done.) Would leaders see other leader’s text messages on social media become a base to response? (Unfortunately it becomes a tweet war.) Who would the media quote between a tweet and a press release?

There may be many perspectives in answering all those questions. No governments have tried to define the role of social media in their communication mix. Media still uses both press releases and social media quotes as news sources just to be on the safe side. Except for those text skirmishes, no country has gone to war because of a tweet alone (Has there? Hope not!).

If all social media users go back to the common sense reason why social media was created, then we can (at least for now) agree that social media is medium of communication where we can express our social interaction in words with others so that while we can not be at the same place all the time, words expression will let us be still close or maybe becoming further apart.

People would prefer to see their leaders up close and personal. The face, the mimic, the gesture and tonality of the voice are what make them a leader. The media would much prefer hearing and seeing live a leader making a statement so that there’s no doubt whatsoever from people on the credibility of the news. Press conference still is the place to ask question and hearing confirmation from answers. Leaders who speak in front of the crowd or media are what make headline news. Social media cannot replace leaders or candidate leaders go direct and meet voters in a political campaign. Social media has also proven that when we abuse it, a country can be divided as shown during and after the US 2016 presidential campaign or what is occurring currently in Indonesia as the political election campaign is underway. While the digital world gives us convenience, flexibility and speed, given to the wrong hands it can be easily manipulated.

As the old proverb says, “too much of anything is anything but good”. Wouldn’t you agree?


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