The primary results of the research - e-participation in Georgia

News | Good Governance | Media Internet Telecommunications | Publications 11 October 2012

 

Above mentioned research was implemented by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information in cooperation with the Center for Post-Soviet Studies (CPSS) in the framework of the program of the East-West Management Institute (EWMI) “Policy, Advocacy and Civil Society Development in Georgia”. The contents of this research do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

To display the major problems and challenges in the field of the e-communication, official Facebook pages of 19 government institutions, 10 political parties and officials and 6 representatives of media were monitored in the first reporting period.

It must be noted that in the beginning we faced a problem of identifying the official Facebook pages of above mentioned political actors, as each of them has several pages at the same time. This creates confusion as distinguishing between the official and non-official pages (which are basically created by the ordinary users) is difficult. The research group mainly relied on the information that was indicated on the official web-site of the institution – link of the Facebook page. In the case of Prime-Minister and David Bakradze (the speaker of the Parliament of Georgia), pages with additional applications – “petitions” and “elections” were selected for monitoring. It is noticeable that pages of some parties were named after the leader of the party rather than the party itself.

Study also monitored the information which was being shared on the daily basis on each page and covered various statistic data, main trends and detected problems of the shared information until August 31.

Monitoring was based on the several methods:

  1. For assessing the level, frequency and effectiveness of usage of social networks by the selected institutions or parties, we monitored the shared information, as well as the type and the form of this information.  Besides, specific attention was paid to what was added by the page itself about its activities, mission, strategy and function. While personal message service and the possibility to post a comment on institution’s wall were considered as indicators of openness.
  2. To specify the level of involvement, research group was monitoring the total number of subscribers, “shares” and “likes”. Specific attention was paid to the number and content of the comments and whether the page was used as a platform for discussions. Observing the comments, posted by the users turned out to be the best way to detect how often the questions were answered by the administrators. Also, for identifying the level of communication, we sent personal messages to the administrators of the selected pages.
  3. During the monitoring process research team was recording and analyzing the detected problems and e-communication strategies of the official Facebook pages.
  4. Besides detecting the major problems, for the purpose of elaborating the recommendations we demonstrated the example of political communication between Barak Obama and Mitt Romney through studying the content of their Facebook pages.

 

Monitoring the Facebook pages of political actors: 

Following tendencies were revealed during the monitoring of political actors:

  • Political activeness and discussion is quite polarized – users are most actively involved in liking, sharing and commenting on the posts of just two political actors, while the citizens’ activeness is less intense on the pages of other actors.
  • It must be noted that the parties and the big part of public officials do not have the successive and clear strategy of communication-building with the population via social networks. While those who have it, mainly lack innovative approaches.
  • Research made it clear that except several pages, administrators to not consider the importance of answering the questions of the users.
  • Comments often disappear, mostly from the active pages.
  • Mainly it is difficult for interested person to get the information about the party’s ideology from the party’s Facebook page. Sometimes the information about the party is posted but in most cases it is lost among plenty of other posts. There is tendency of lack of using innovative ways of expressing one’s own strategy.
  • The majority of Georgian political parties establish the communication with the voters in a quite monotonous way. There have not been made any effort from their side to search for innovative approaches or improving strategies.
  • The content of the comments showed that not many citizens get involved in the discussions about the party’s ideology; however, there are still some users that are interested in these issues. But the posed questions and problems are often ignored by the page administrator.

 

Monitoring the Facebook pages of public institutions

The preliminary results of the monitoring displayed major problems:

  • The walls of the majority of the pages are closed. Even more, six of them can’t be reached via personal message. 
  • These institutions are mainly oriented at posting as many links and photos as possible, while the comments, questions and problems posed by the users are often ignored.
  • In most cases number of responses from the page administrators is negligible, but there still are some institutions that showed better results in comparison to others.
  • Information added on the official pages on daily basis, is not balanced as the administrators share mainly the reportage of Rustavi 2, Imedi and Georgian Public Broadcaster.
  • Some of the institutions have “liked” the pages of one of the parties (UNM) and the youth wing of the same party. Even more, we found the official Facebook page of one of the majoritarians in list of “liked” pages of several institutions.
  • Pages lack the comments of the users. This may be caused by the inattentiveness of the administrators or by the censorship.
  • Two official pages were used for illegal pre-election agitation. Against the 48th article of Election Code, these pages were using administrative resources for election agitation.
  • Fake accounts were detected during the monitoring. Their main duty is commenting, liking and sharing the news.
  • The most active users of the pages are mainly employed in the same or other related institution.

 

Monitoring of the Facebook pages of the media 

Project also includes the analysis of the information posted on the official Facebook page of Rustavi 2, Imedi, Maestro, Kavkasia, Public Broadcaster and TV9. The aim of the research is studying the level, frequency and effectiveness of usage of social networks as well as evaluating the communication strategy of each broadcaster, specifying the priorities and assessing the level of involvement of the users. Research showed various interesting tendencies:

Strategy of communication

  • Part of media sources (Rustavi 2, Imedi, Kavkasia) fail in effective usage of social network and has no strategy at all;
  • Strategy of spreading the information in case of Imedi, Rustavi 2 and Kavkasia is not successive and mostly the users add more news than the page itself;
  • None of the pages, except one of TV9 has new, latest applications and services;
  • Even though the majority of the TV channels have Facebook page for quite a long time, communication policy or services haven’t been improved.
  • Not all the questions of the users are answered.
  • Three pages out of six – Maestro, TV9 and Rustavi 2 have closed walls.

 

Key issues:

  • During monitoring process we focused attention on the intensity of coverage of election issue. In the period of active pre-election campaigns of political parties, media has also started broadcasting in election mode. However, elections did not reflect on the priorities of all the channels;
  • Research showed that the level of activeness of the TV channels on Facebook, content of the information, quantity of the users and their involvement sharply differ from each other;
  • Those TV channels that have low coverage area are more active in social networks, therefore their rating on Facebook is high.

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 Full report in Georgian

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