The Government has announced plans to tap into the popularity of independently run websites in the form of blogs, forums and networking sites to spread Whitehall’s messages. Is designing a sexy Facebook page the best way for the Government to use the medium?
It’s tremendous the Government has the acuity to exploit these fashionable platforms. But just as brands have fumbled with these situations, the Government must quickly learn the art of conversation if it wants to assert its messages and be accepted into these communities. There is a danger it ends up being like a school headmaster on dress-down day, more a demonstration of out-of-touch-ness than a credibility-building exercise.
Nicolas Roope, Creative director, Poke London
As people’s lives migrate on-line, politicians and Government will want to reach in there. A sexy Facebook page would seem a very one-dimensional way to do this, but setting up forums and blogs would be welcome. We’re already seeing the power of the electorate with on-line petitions and lobbying. The day will come when we can all vote and conduct referendums on-line – the electorate could vote throughout the day on bills prepared by civil servants and MPs can go and do something more interesting instead. The Houses of Parliament would make a really nice restaurant.
Mark Hurst, Creative group head, Albion London
It’s no surprise that politics is cosying up to the Web – a quick look at the Obama 08 site shows how politics and pixels can mix. But that’s a campaign that people get emotionally involved in, sign up to and feel part of a genuine movement. Whether we’ll see that kind of commitment to a discussion site on the state of the NHS without it turning into a savage blogosphere feeding frenzy is debatable. Humour might help, though – I can see the ‘old Etonians with yet-to-be-truly-explained-pasts-who-like-The-Smiths-and-Radiohead’ Facebook group really working.
Michael Johnson, Co-founder, Johnson Banks
Sexy? No. Appropriate? Yes. After experimenting, the Government has got it right. Why bother reinventing, when the options and opportunities available within Facebook make it a no-brainer? The rules of engagement are going to be different, but people will be more receptive in a place they’re familiar with than in one that’s been invented to target them. Suggesting all campaigns go on Facebook is naive, but right for some.
Robert Soar, Creative director, FHD