Communication is not a spectator sport. There is the sending and the receiving. It’s an active process. Which is why we have both the words “to speak” and “to hear”; “to write” and “to read”; “to talk” and “to listen”.
I find the hearing and listening part of the equation curiously absent in the social media space. You tweet and I twear?… twisten? Is this a coincidence or just a lag in the dynamics of language to develop a new word for a new concept? Or is it reflective of the nature of these media to be a form of niche broadcast rather than a conversation?
As governments seek avenues to engage their citizens, social media is often top of mind. The undeniable utility of twitter and facebook to rapidly disseminate information during recent disasters has reinforced this mindshare. I’d encourage you to pause though and consider the goals of your program before reflexively creating a twitter account or creating a facebook page.
Are you seeking to promote an event or communicate some information? If so, then go right ahead. The social media megaphone is likely to be an effective way to amplify your message if you get the right pitch to the right people.
Are you seeking a conversation? Do you need a means of gauging community sentiment on an issue or getting substantive input into a planning process? If so then I’m not sure social media is going to deliver what you need.