Informing citizens on participation possibilities through a Facebook page

Osallistuva Tampere (“Participating Tampere”) Facebook page was published in August 2011 by the Local Democracy Unit of the City of Tampere. The purpose of the Facebook page is to inform the residents of Tampere on the participation possibilities in the issues being prepared by the city; on the on-going inqueries in the Valma preparation forum and on other inquiries, on activities of the regional working groups, on residential events, and on the actions of the Youth Parliament and the Children’s Parliament.



Main goal

Among different queries made during couple of years it seems like the residents don’t know about the participation possibilities well enough. The Osallistuva Tampere (“Participating Tampere”) Facebook page is one optional channel for getting information on participation and it hopefully attracts especially the young people and young adults. However, the page is aimed to everyone using Facebook and gives filtered information on participation in Tampere in an easy way for those interested in this theme.

To establish a new Facebook page to inform the residents of Tampere on the participation possibilities in the issues being prepared by the city.

Lessons learned

For the information giving’s point of view the Osallistuva Tampere (“Participating Tampere”) Facebook page is a good channel and was warmly welcomed by the residents, although there could be more fans. The city probably should market the page more.

Before the Facebook page was published we discussed a lot whether the page wall should be open to everyone’s wall postings or not – commenting on the city’s status postings would be allowed of course in any case. We were a bit afraid that the wall would become spammed with inappropriate postings, or that there would be numerous postings from citizens that would take a lot of time from the officials to answer, or very critical postings that would be very hard to answer. Finally we decided to allow everyone to write wall postings, because it would be quite comical for a Facebook page aimed for promoting participation if any spontaneous discussion there wouldn’t be allowed. Gladly it didn’t take long to realize that the open wall didn’t cause any problems. On the contrary, there could be more conversation and initiatives. The real challenge is how to engage people to discuss more on the Facebook page wall.

Recommendations

Recommendation1 The municipalities shouldn’t be worried about the quantity or the quality of the postings of the citizens on municipalities’ Facebook pages beforehand but allow the open wall fearlessly.

Recommendation2 Organizations should also concentrate on developing the Facebook pages, and other social media services, to become real official participation channels.
Recommendation3 There should always be different kinds of participation forums for different needs of the residents. Not every resident wants to discuss on a Facebook wall in public.

Location

Tampere, Finland

Author

Eija Uurtamo

Info

http://www.facebook.com/osallistuvatampere

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