Thursday, April 23, 2015

First social media page of Vietnam’s public sector: grand opening, small follow-up

It has been nearly three months since the inauguration of the Facebook page of Vietnamese Minister of Health. Since she was the first high-level official officially using social media to connect with public, the public has expected that the Health Minister will set a milestone in Vietnam’s old-fashioned public administration. To come up with such expectation, it seems that the Health Minister needs a well-designed social media strategy, rather than a grand opening but small follow-up like the current fanpage.
The Facebook page was created in late January 2015, representing the voice of the Ministry of Health in relationship with the public. Immediately, it attracted more than 80,000 likes since Vietnam public was exciting to use social media, which has been quite popular in the country, to connect with the Minister. For the first two months, the content strategy aims at “updating information about public health, medical issues and receiving information or complaints about heath care service”. The “push” tactics have been used to deliver information to the public, and as a result, the public was informed about latest news and policies in medical area on time. Some significant achievements were made, and the Minister was praised for appropriate responding the comments, quick solving the complaints about notorious public health care service, and even calling for helps with the poor.
However, it seems that the Minister does not have a professional social media team, and this will negatively affect the efficiency of her social media activities. She is handling the page by herself, and cannot respond or get updates from the page after 11:00. Normally, the frequency of professional news, updates and comments are during the working time. Even though the posting policy says that all comments will be responded after 11:00pm, the audiences can wait, but the crisis or emergency cannot. For example, if a comment about a reportedly bribe to get a slot of health checking in a public hospital is posted in the morning or noon, it will attract a lot of rising voices and criticism about the notorious health care service in the country. Once responses from the authorized person come after 11:00pm, it will be too late to stop the scandal from wide spreading.
Furthermore, since there is no professional social media team to help the Minister in administering her Facebook account, the grand, successful opening is resulted with small follow-up. While in the first 2 months, she keeps posting at least one time a day, the number of post fluctuates from several times a day to one for several days. The content strategy has been changed also, from updating the Minister’s activities, medical information, new policy or humanitarian calling on, or answering to common questions just sharing information from other newspapers. This content change is easily realized by the audiences, and may affect their interest in the page, and drive them out of the page. It will also negatively affect the engagement characteristic and viral outreach of the page.
In conclusion, to actively maintain the Facebook page of the Health Minister and make them a spearhead in Vietnam Public Administration Reform, a social media strategy for the page is needed. The strategy should include goals, potential audiences, content strategy and posting policy, including both time and administration of posting. Some tactics should be used, especially pull strategy to get more audiences and stakeholders engage in. Personnel recruitment holds no less importance and should be taken into account for sake of a more active social media platform of a public manager.
----Trang DANG----

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