The global financial crisis is making headlines for more than the fact that we are all having to ditch our Macchiatos and opt-in for budget instant instead. It is also forcing governments to seek new ways to engage with their peoples in an attempt to forge the common bonds which can drive mutually-beneficent decisions which are hard to swallow, forward.
The UK government came under fire from unions when it set up a website to discuss where budget cuts to the country’s spending can be made but as it received 50,000 ideas from it, it has become apparent that ‘engagement’ the new online marketing buzzword is a practice which pays off. As a result the UK government turned to Facebook. With 23 million Britons having an account there, it is obvious that anything which engages them in reaching some sort of collective decision on where some of the most painful government spending cuts this century are going to be made, is going to be good.
The ability of the public and governments to constructively engage each other online is a trend which private business with an online presence have been benefitting from for some time now. The web works because it allows us to work collectively but at an individual level and within our own parameters and it is exactly, at this point, that ‘engagement’ in the full meaning of the word takes place and governments as well as businesses begin to benefit.
The UK government experiment is exactly the kind of thing which shows the way we should all be working in the 21st century. If we imagine, for a moment, that we do not live in a globally connected, always-on, culture and that we are, instead, members of a tribal village of just a few dozen people. Good governance (and good business) would entail the village chief calling a pow-wow at the village square to discuss just what harsh measures we must all take in order to weather the tough winter ahead. There would be much shaking of heads and pulling of faces as no one would like what they hear but, given the face-to-face meeting, the reality would be difficult to deny and the measures, however reluctantly, would be taken.
Tribal societies and small village cultures work through engagement because there is no other way to work successfully through. In the modern world we lost much of this which lead to a disconnect. Something which in order to be addressed required heavy advertising spends and clever packaging and branding.
In the 21st century, technology has enabled us to go back to the ideal village square model of engagement but on a global scale. Because human nature is such that we only grasp what we need to only when we absolutely have to the UK government’s action, born out of real need as it is, is a huge step forward which should be retained. It also highlights the way businesses need to work, engaging their customers in a collaborative process regarding the use of and need for their products.