Development of Social Media in Indonesia

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Government Public Relations has a very vital roles particularly in branding the government agencies. According Niken Widyastuti, Director General of Information and Public Communication of Ministry of Information and Communication of Indonesia, in the national seminar for government strategic communication, Government Public Relations have at least 5 main duty which are: (1) to socialize government program, achievements and policies, (2) to educate the public, (3) to build awareness on government main programs, (4) counter issues and clarify hoaxes and also (5) nation branding (Akbar, 2018). However up to this day, the implementation of government public relations tasks is still not very optimal.

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Before social media, it is very difficult for Indonesian citizens to have a dialogue with the Indonesian government agencies. It was either caused by the long and complicated procedures or the lack of information of where or who to address their questions or complains. Most of the time they need to find right people that able to give them such information before they able to address their issues, complains or opinions.

Other ways, they might write letters to multiple newspaper agencies with hope that one of them would publish their letter in the readers section. But, still, there was no guarantee that they will get response that they expect from the Indonesian government. Some may also try to get the news agencies attention to publish their story on the paper in order to get the government attention. However, only big issues might get noticed. While other issues may left to be unresolved.

Today, the use of social media within the Indonesian government has change the landscape of Indonesian government bureaucracy. Ever since the digital era the public administration within the government adopted web 2.0 tools such as web portal, blog, wikis, social media and other multimedia platforms that enable the agencies to have two ways of communication and exchanging information with the public. And ever since then the Indonesian internal bureaucracy and the Indonesian public can interact with no limitation.

The easy access of social media enable Indonesian people to share their opinions, ideas and criticism directly to the government freely without border, time or space. Through social media, the people of Indonesia now can use their right and freedom to express themselves more.

Not only social media bridge the communication of individuals to the world wide, but social media also aid the communication barrier between the Indonesian public and the Indonesian government agencies. Now, all issues, regardless how small it is, it will still be heard. The Indonesian government agencies now become more sensitive in listening to all criticism, suggestion and people’s opinion because public’s opinions, suggestions and criticism are the best source of information that the Indonesian government can use for improvement. By communicating well to the public, the government agencies might also gain more public trust.

Moreover, social media also enable head of government to have two way communication directly to the public. This direct communication from head of governments through social media can increase also the public trust to the government agencies even more. And that trust will create stability and increase the public support to the government.

Social media allows the Indonesian government agencies to promote their program efficiently and improve their performance. Although social media can often save money, especially in promotional and advertising, but it strengths really lies in increasing the audience engagement.

Sharing public opinions and aspirations are ways of Indonesian citizens to be actively involved in governance and in development of the country. Using the Arnstein (1969) theories in “a ladder of citizen participation”, the government aim to increase the citizens participation by sharing information to the citizens, inviting citizens to share their opinions and giving the citizens some degree of influence in government. However, regardless the government practices on Arnstein theories, people participation through social media still have not fully get the quick response that the people needs from the government agencies.

In the era where all information are flooding in the digital world, information regarding government programs are easily drowned unnoticed by other informations that is more appealing and attractive to the public. Therefore government public relations need to be more creative and proactive in building awareness, socializing and sharing government programs. Government public relations also need to be able to think out of the box and able to create a creative content that could attract the public attention. Moreover, the government public relations need to be more fast in responding the public comments on social media and in other platforms in real time. And also focus in building positive engagement to the public through social media.

Social media activities are part of the communication activities of government agencies. Therefore, government social media activities should fit with the image that the government would like to represent to the public. That image should be reflected in the content of social media. Hence, to manage public relations activities using social media official account, the each government agencies must appointed social media administrator that responsible administrator in managing the account and post content on behalf of the agency’s leader. The responsible person is entitled entirely to upload information relating to the agency and to respond to or respond to comments, opinions, feedback, and audience suggestions.

Besides using social media as the official voice representation of the agencies, government public relations must also able to utilize social media as a tool of public monitoring. This type of social media monitoring is also known as public listening. This activity is a process of identification and assessment of public perception of the agency by listening to all the conversations audiences in various social media (Fensel, Leiter, and Stravrakantonakis, 2012). Monitoring is conducted to measure and analyze perceptions tendencies, opinions, and attitudes towards the agencies. Measurement and analysis is done continuously and in real time so that government agencies are able to monitor the movement or tendency of public perceptions, opinions, and attitudes toward the agencies.

Currently, almost all Indonesian government agencies are using one or multiple social media platform as public relations tool of communication. Media social is now proven able to involve large audience actively and also able to harness various input from the public. However, if it is not properly and wisely managed, the use of social media as public relations tool of communication can have a negative impact. And all inputs and comments, either negative or positive, can affect the image of the government agencies.

Social Media and Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia

Seeing the important of social media for the Indonesian people, Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia (Kemendikbud) public relations created social media account in multiple platform as one of their official mediums to communicate with the people of Indonesia. Kemendikbud also use social media as free promotional tools to building awareness about the ministerial policies, programs, events and other informations. However Kemendikbud still also use other mainstream non digital advertising tools like television, radio and print. This is necessary to be done in order to reach the citizens that has no internet connection. Some Indonesian who live close to the border are still primarily relies on public broadcasting and print newspaper as source of information.

Kemendikbud main goal is to give the best service possible to the Indonesian citizens particularly teachers, academision, students and parents. Other goal is also to maintain the agencies positive image. Maintaining positive image is very important to all government agencies, because unlike the private sectors, there are no competition between government agencies. This is due to the reason that public do not normally have an option to choose one government agency over another government agencies on specific matter.

Producing high quality content and keeping the followers or the public engaged is one of the crucial challenge that Kemendikbud has to deal on social media. Most of the time, Kemendikbud pay more attention to social media comments and interactions only during big crisis. Particularly when public sentiment become negatives and the mainstream news media also amplifies it, that is when Kemdikbud become more actively engage with the public on social media.

To ensure the credibility of Kemendikbud social media accounts, all of Kemendikbud social media account has received verified badge, the blue tick on profile, by the social media companies. Being verified on social media is very important because those blue badge can ensure the public that Kemendikbud social media account are the official voice of Kemendikbud that can be trust.

Kemendikbud and Facebook

Kemendikbud began with facebook page @Kemdikbud.RI. The page was created in October 25, 2011 and as of today (July 26, 2018) the page has reached 1,953,724 likes. This made Kemendikbud facebook page is governmental page with the largest audience in Indonesia (socialbakers, 2018). In term of page updating, Kemendikbud update their posting regularly from 3 to 4 post a day. The post are mostly contains image. In fact, according the Meltwater likealyzer (2018) tool, 81% of Kemendikbud facebook posts contains pictures, only 17% posts contains videos and the rest 2% of the posts that did not contains any images.

Mainly the posts on the Kemendikbud facebook page are regarding government informations, events, programs and public service announcement. Regardless that the post received numbers of comments, whether it is related or not to the content of the post, unfortunately very few comments received response by Kemendikbud facebook page administrators. Most of time the administrators response only to positive comments, however the administrators response to the comment are mostly quite similar. As it can be seen from the example below, both comments received the exact similar response by the Kemendikbud facebook page administrators.

Meanwhile, on the example below, taken from two different posting, we can see that none of these interactions received any response from the Kemendikbud facebook page administrators.

Moreover, unlike the private sectors, Kemendikbud facebook page seems to be not integrated to the customer service or complain department of the Ministry of Education and Culture, therefore comments that contains complains, reports and issues are advices to be address to another link. As it can be seen in the example below.

Occasionally, Kemendikbud facebook page also post live feed video. The videos are mainly shows ceremonial events that happen in the ministry. Their live videos most of the time have good response and received thousands of viewers.

Regardless that the Kemendikbud facebook page has a very low response rate, the public engagement or interaction in any kind of ways to the page, over the past seven days (July 19 to 26, 2018), is still considerably moderate.

Kemendikbud and Twitter

In July 10, 2012, Kemendikbud created their official Twitter account. Kemendikbud twitter account is rank the 5th most followed governmental twitter account in Indonesia (socialbakers, 2018). As of today (July 26, 2018) their twitter account has followed by 1,463,848 twitter users. Kemendikbud twitter account are update regularly, Kemendikbud tweets on average are 11 to 12 tweets per day (twitonomy, 2018). Almost all of their tweets contains images, either photos or videos.

Just like Kemendikbud facebook page, Kemendikbud twitter account is mainly use to building awareness of the ministry policies, programs and current events. Occasionally, Kemendikbud also retweet other tweets from another government agencies. Also some of the Kemendikbud tweets are copying exactly the same content and wording from their facebook page. Look at the example below (captured on July 31, 2018), left image taken from twitter and right image taken from facebook page.

Although the two posting are identical, the posts were upload and share in different times. The twitter post was uploaded on July 30, 2018 while the facebook page post followed the next day.

Kemendikbud and Instagram

The most recent social media account that Kemendikbud public relations established was Instagram. The account uploaded their first post on March 23, 2016. And as of today (July 26, 2018) the Instagram account followed by 312,161 followers. In a day, on average, Kemendikbud upload 3 to 4 post a day. Although some of the posts in Instagram seems to be identical to the other Kemendikbud social media account, but the wording of the post may not be the same. Look at example below.

Compares to Kemendikbud other social media account, Kemendikbud Instagram account seems to received more interactions from the public. It can be seen by the number of likes and comments in each Instagram post that Kemendikbud uploaded. From the example below it can be seen that their most recent post (the data was retrieved 7 hours after posting) has received more than 2,000 likes.

On April 2018, Kemendikbud Instagram account even received some media attentions. It happened during the National Final Exam period where many students, parents and teachers were flooded Kemendikbud instagram comments with thousands complains and negative remarks regarding the exam. Kemendikbud Instagram administrators handled and answered most of the comments wisely, politely and patiently in casual manner and sometimes added with a little bit sense of humor. This answers received many positive reactions from the angry students, parents and teachers. One audience decided to screenshotted the hilarious interaction between the public and kemendikbud instagram administrators, compiled it, and shared it in Kaskus, Indonesian largest online community forum with titled “Pasca UNBK, komentar bijak admin Instagram Kemendikbud RI tuai pujian”. In English translation: “Post UNBK (Indonesian National Final Exam), Kemendikbud Instagram wise comment gets praises”. From there, the story went viral.


Social media has definitely changed how the government public relation agencies including Kemendikbud Public Relations communicate with the public. It enable Kemendikbud public relations to connect the people of Indonesia faster, broader, transparently and, most importantly, it enable the Indonesian people to reach out to Kemendikbud easily without having to undergo a complicated bureaucracy matter. Due to the nature of social media ability to magnify all messages, both good and bad ones (Aaker, Hoyt, Leslie, & Rogier, 2010), Kemendikbud aware that social media also have negative risks. However it is still very important for Kemendikbud to always maintain good image of the agencies.

Although Kemendikbud public relations are aware that social media strengths lies in increasing the audience engagement, however Kemendikbud public relations are still not very active in providing the fast response that the public demands. Kemendikbud public relations need to be more fast in responding the public comments on social media in real time in order to increase the audience engagement as well as to maintain the good image of Kemendikbud. The slow respon by Kemendikbud public relations social media could impact the image and reputation of Kemendikbud.

In order to create a more creative content in social media, Kemendikbud public relations need to pay more attention to current trending topic. In managing Kemendikbud social media accounts, Kemendikbud public relations must not forget that Kemendikbud social media account also represent the image of Kemendikbud. Even though it is advices to use a more casual language in social media, Kemendikbud public relations or social media administrator must pay attention in using the right and correct grammar and spelling. Therefore it is mandatory that social media administrator to have a good level of language proficiency.

Social media enable its users with mutual interest to create their own community. With intensive communication among the community members through social media, they can influence each other opinion and create a public opinion that could impact on the image and reputation of the government. Therefore, in the present and future, all government public relations need to pay attention to the role of social media and are actively involved in it. All government public relations including Kemendikbud public relations need to listen, respond and engage more on social media.

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