The proliferation of social media has created various new potentials for governments to enhance their interaction with citizens. One of social media’s main advantages is seen in the way it alters service delivery and service design in governments. Rather than merely consuming, citizens can now assume an active role in designing government services by becoming co-designers. While recent studies have concentrated on the benefits that social media offer to governments, the citizen perspective has remained unstudied yet. However, considering their needs and preferences is crucial for the success of governments’ activities in social media. In order to gain first insights in this topic, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 32 German Facebook users enquiring them about their perceptions and experiences with their municipalities’ Facebook profiles. Our results draw a disillusioning picture. Despite the possibilities to actively contribute to government activities, citizens prefer to passively consume information, if at all. The main barriers to deeper interactions with governments are citizens’ unawareness of government profiles, missing perceived benefits, missing trust and perceived pressure from their social environment. In general, we find the social environment to play an important role, both in the decision to ‘like’ government profiles on Facebook as well as in the decision (not) to contribute to e-participation on Facebook.
Hofmann, Sara, "BECOMING FRIENDS WITH THE GOVERNMENT - A QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS OF CITIZENS’ DECISION TO ‘LIKE’ GOVERNMENT PROFILES ON FACEBOOK" (2016). Research Papers. 58.