How to communicate with masses in microblog era

14:11, August 03, 2011      

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Information regarding emergencies often comes from microblogs, and most public comments also come from microblogs. With their convenience, independence and interactivity, microblogs have starkly shown the advantages of the Internet since they came on the scene. Microblogs have a 140-word limit, which allows every individual to have a platform to speak, and also brings an era in which everyone in the world can speak out their own opinions and everyone can follow.

2010 was the first year of the era of microblogs in China. Various major websites rushed to open microblogging services starting from 2010, and the number of microblog users continues to set records. Microblogs allow users to release information anytime and anywhere, independently choose what they want to write about, and disseminate information in a geometric-level range.

More and more people, including many Party and government agencies and leading cadres at all levels, no longer take a wait-and-see attitude. Rather, they participate with microblog users and groups who have caught microblog fever.

Incomplete statistics of the Public Opinion Monitoring Office of People's Daily Online show that microblogs are currently present at many administrative levels and in functional departments. These microblogs have brought notable results in clearing the channels of communication with the masses and in shaping the government's image of loving the people and caring for the community.

Some cadres opened verified microblog accounts during this year's two annual meetings of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and frankly answered sensitive questions. Some cadres, who are heavy users of microblogging services, post micro-blog messages frequently through their computers or cell phones and have many followers.

China's police agencies had set up over 800 microblog accounts by the end of January 2011. Through microblogging, the police have offered citizens various forms of useful information, including crime warnings and security tips, and have played an active role in responding to emergencies.

Some people said that microblogs have placed the public and William Shakespeare on the same level. The language environment of the grassroots, with its special characteristics, is different from that of the Party and government officials, meaning that many officials will have to learn how to speak in the microblog era.

"You must not utter bureaucratic or pompous words and must speak the everyday language of the people. Otherwise, nobody will listen to you," a microblog user said.

"No bureaucratic or empty talk" has become the foremost principle for microblog postings. The 140-character limit means that one must speak concisely. Only by abandoning bureaucratic or empty talk can one's micr-blog messages resonate with the public. Microblogs allow a particular piece of information to spread exponentially, and officials can communicate directly with the public, so the consequences of telling lies and speaking improperly on microblogs can be very serious.

Equal and sincere communication is a basic principle for micro-blog conversations. Equality and sharing is the fundamental spirit and charm of the Internet. There is no rostrum on the Internet, and every netizen has a microphone. "As long as we are candid with each other, we will build mutual trust," said another micro-blog user.

Expressing opinions in a timely and accurate manner is the strength of the microblogs of leading cadres and institutions. It is a fact that the microblogs of leading cadres and Party and government organs are different from those of ordinary Internet users and have their special characteristics.

Because official microblogs have more authoritative information and a deeper understanding of the guidelines and policies of the Party and the government, Internet users pay particular attention to these microblogs. Responding to the concerns of Internet users in a timely and accurate manner through microblogging platforms is the ultimate goal of official microblogs. They seek to understand the conditions of the masses and addressing their concerns.

Is learning to speak in the microblogging era not a change in the style of work? The frankness and calmness shown by some leading cadres on the Internet or on microblogs are derived from their confidence in their work and sincerity toward the masses. Some other Party members dare not, are unwilling to or cannot speak or respond to hot issues through microblogging.

There are perhaps two reasons behind the situation: first, they think that it is unnecessary to speak. Second, they do not know how to speak. As hot issues are the focus and even tough points of the work, those who have no ideas, measures or practice will naturally have nothing to say.

The ability to use the Internet reflects the quality and capabilities of leading cadres. It is hoped that there will be more and more leading cadres who are adept in speaking and are popular on the Internet and microblogging sites, and more and more leading cadres who seek to understand public opinions and offer practical services to the people.

By Tang Weihong from People's Daily, translated by People's Daily Online

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