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The Impact of the Use of Social Networking Sites

Computers help individuals to create and consume information at unprecedented scale and at unprecedented speed. The social dimension of computing reminds us that computing is about people, not merely about information. According to Madison (2006) computing builds connections, networks, and pathways for information and activity channels that constrain the individual and enable the group. We should look for value in the social dimensions of computing; as matters of law and policy, therefore, we should look for ways to enhance and to limit–that social character.

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By definition, democratic governments should reflect public opinion and work best when the citizens are well-informed (Turney, 2009). Governments were among the first organizations to need, and to practice, public relations as a way of maintaining appropriate relationships with their citizens. There are various tools that can be used in the practice of public relations. Traditional tools include press releases and media kits which are sent out to generate positive press on behalf of the organization. Widely used tools include brochures, newsletters and annual reports.

Increasingly, government are utilizing interactive social media outlets, such as blogs and social media as tools in their public relations campaigns. Unlike the traditional tools which allowed for only one-way communication, social media outlets allow the government to engage in two-way communication, and receive immediate feedback from the public. The growth of web technologies has led to an explosion of social networking media sites. These have attracted millions of users worldwide, and offer a wide variety of methods that users can connect to others and share common interests.

According to Kes-Erkul and Erkul (2009) social media have the capacity to change the relationship between the Internet and its users, and can change power structures and increase the opportunity for users to engage in greater community participation. Cole (2009) indicates that social media can be powerful tools governments can deploy to help rejuvenate civic engagement. Blogs, wikis, RSS feeds and social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have provided creative ways to recruit, engage, connect and retain employees.

They have also provided an opportunity to facilitate strategic knowledge sharing across organizations and government agencies. This development has led to a greater interest in how governments can use tools and sites to reach a variety of users with diverse goals. Freeman and Loo (2009) claim that these technologies can be leveraged to transform the way governments provide online information and services, as well as interact with constituents and stakeholders.

Romsdahl (2005) argues that more participation of government policy-making via the Internet could help revitalise dialogue between citizens and governments and promote greater participation by disenfranchised citizens and groups as they use these technologies to educate others about political issues in their communities. Furthermore, social networking is more recently being used by the public especially the youth nowadays. As the social networking site’s popularity increased, its services were quickly expanded to students at other universities and eventually to everybody (Lane, 2010).

Social networks allow students to socialize in multiple ways. But as Lane (2010) sees it, when this technologically enhanced, social life is extended into the academic life of students, grades can be severely affected. However, social networking tools and certain web pages serve as a quick and easy way for students to communicate while the government is able to get the opinion of the public and to keep the public updated on their activity. Several government agencies are taking advantage of these web pages for recruiting and talent management, as well as improving job performance.

Some agencies have created a Facebook network for employees to achieve better talent management — as a way to share knowledge, build collaboration and improve employee engagement. People must be aware that there is more important use of social networking other than socializing. For the students, aside from socializing, they should spend time thinking of how effective are social networks not only for government work but also for reaching the public. They should be aware of such web pages or social networking sites that government agencies use for public relations.

Because of the above mentioned scenario, the researchers developed the interest to determine awareness of the students on the impact of social networking sites and web pages as public relations tool of government agencies which play a significant role in the efficient achievement of accessible communication and access to public. Additionally, it may help increase the speed of public feedback and input not only from professionals but also from the youths.

Through this study, the players in the government system would become more aware and conscious of the present psychological makeup of its people especially the students as affected by social media. They could devise measures to improve its programs and campaigns, more particularly in the aspect of informing and communicating to the public and accepting feedback from them. 1. 2 Research Problem and Objectives Statement of the Problem This study generally aimed to determine the impact of social networking sites and web pages as public relations tool of government agencies.

General Objectives This study generally aimed to determine the impact of social networking sites and web pages as public relations tool of government agencies as perceived by second year Foreign Service students of the Lyceum of the Philippines University Cavite Campus Academic year 2011-2012. Specific Objectives This study was specifically conducted to determine: 1. the influences on public relations within social networking sites and web pages of government agencies 2. if there are differences in public elations between agencies. 3. the possible benefits of these social networking sites and web pages of government agencies among second year Foreign Service students of the Lyceum of the Philippines University Cavite Campus. 1. 3 Significance of the Study This study was conducted to determine the impact of social networking sites and web pages as public relations tool of government agencies as perceived by second year Foreign Service students of the Lyceum of the Philippines University Cavite Campus Academic year 2011-2012.

Once the impact of social networking sites and web pages as public relations tool of government agencies as perceived by second year Foreign Service students of the Lyceum of the Philippines University Cavite Campus has been established, the student’s will be able to assess the effects of these social networking sites and web pages of government agencies to them. This study will also increase their awareness to the practices the government are using for public relations for them to be able to participate.

The study will also serve as a good basis for reforming and modifying programs or campaigns to increase government’s accessto audiences, to improve the accessibility of government communication and to enable government to be more active in its relationships with its citizens. And lastly, the study is also for the benefit of future researchers. Scope and Limitations of the Study The study was conducted at the Lyceum of the Philippines University Cavite Campus on June 2012.

The study covered all second year Foreign Service students of the Lyceum of the Philippines University Cavite Campus Academic Year 2011-2012. The impact of social networking sites and web pages as public relations tool of government agencies will be determined and the second year Foreign Service students’ awareness and understanding of the issue will be established. 1. 5 Study Framework 1. 5. 1 Theoretical Framework This study will be based on the Network Theory or Network Analysis, also known as Social Network Theory which can be applied to a wide range of human rganizations, from small groups of people to entire nations (Ethier, 2006) and the Relationship Awareness Theory which gives organizations and individuals the awareness and skills they need to build more effective personal and professional relationships (Porter, 2010). According to Ethier (2006), the former theory states that these networks are created to help their membership reach established and perceived potential goals, through members helping members to make contacts, within society. It focuses on the relationships between people, instead of on characteristics of people.

These relationships may comprise the feelings people have for each other, the exchange of information, or more tangible exchanges such as goods and money. By mapping these relationships, network analysis helps to uncover the emergent and informal communication patterns present in an organization, which may then be compared to the formal communication structures. The term network refers to a set of objects, or nodes, and mapping or description of the relationship between the objects. In the case of social networks, the objects refer to people or groups of people.

Moreover, Barnes (1954) indicates that Social Network Theory views social relationships in terms of nodes and ties. Nodes are the individual actors within the networks, and ties are the relationships between the actors. In connection to the study, the government agencies and the students are the possible nodes while the awareness of students to the impact of social networking sites and web pages of government agencies refers to the tie between them. As supported by Porter (2010), the theory develops concern for task accomplishment and concern for organization of people, time, money and any other resources to achieve desired results.

The latter theory strengthens the former theory because Relationship Awareness Theory is a dynamic and powerful way of looking at human relationships that aids in building communication, trust, empathy, and effective, productive relationships. Based on the theory, the main concept of the study is to aims to determine the impact of social networking sites and web pages as public relations tool of government agencies as perceived by second year Foreign Service students of the Lyceum of the Philippines University Cavite Campus Academic year 2011-2012.

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