Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Politicians join the party

Sarawak’s Housing and Urban Development Minister recently said Facebook had now become an important mechanism for him to receive feedback from the people – and in doing so joins the growing list of politicians on social media.

Already we’ve seen Malaysia’s most prominent politician, Dr Mahathir Mohamad try his hand at blogging which on the surface looks like he’s doing a good job of. My Bahasa is way too rusty to actually judge the content for myself but his last five posts averaged over 227 comments which is significant – it’s not easy to a) Keep a blog going and b) Convert readers from lurker mode into commenting mode.

Reportedly, when his blog first launched it got 1 million hits in just 30 days. What was the motive behind the move online? Well, according to a documentary I watched on cable TV last month it was driven by his desire to be heard again because mainstream media was now apparently ignoring him post retirement.

Dr M is also on Facebook but somehow his blog seems more like a window in to his thoughts than his Facebook account which feels more like a PR machine.

The minister on Facebook intends to use his Facebook account to ultimately improve his service to the community but a politician’s blog never quite feels like it was set up to do that.

Yesterday, I was a moderator of a session at the Marketing Chapter event organised by AdExcel which talked about social media and the outlook for advertising in 2010. It was here the topic of blogger transparency came up again. And it was clear from the panel that although they might all like bloggers to become more accountable, audiences in Malaysia didn’t (as long as the post was entertaining) seem to mind as much currently as compared to the West.

It was in the second session where Aegis’ David Ho said one day bloggers in Malaysia would “turn away” because blogs would no longer be neutral.

Over to you guys.

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