Exhibiting poise, insight and respect, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has risen to the top of the list of politicians using social media effectively. Jonathan set up a Facebook account a little over a month ago and has posted at least once a day since. However, it is not simply the number of posts that makes his account one to watch for interested politicians and pundits, but rather the content therein – he discusses many dimensions of the government’s actions and policies, even reversing one of his decisions based on the comments that citizens left on his Facebook page.
Jonathan brings the general sentiment of the Facebook page to bear on political decisions. He recently reversed a ruling to ban the Nigerian football team from international play due to their poor performance at the World Cup, and cited several Facebook comments as key to his decision.
Jonathan’s Facebook account is not part of a political campaign or a marketing strategy. It is not simply there so that his government can say they “understand social media and new technology”. He is using Facebook as a tool to engage in a two-way conversation with his citizens, hearing their concerns and raising his own. This increases transparency and accountability, while showing the world that his government is active and concerned about its citizens. Governments around the world could learn a thing or two from Jonathan’s Facebook page.