Open Government, Social Media and Western Balkan Countries
This article analyses the presence and activity on the field of social media in the countries that belonged to the same state in the past: Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH), Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – these named as Western Balkan Countries (WBCs) – and, Slovenia and Croatia as EU member states. The authors have analysed the official profiles of the respective countries on social media and calculated the Facebook Assessment Index (FAI) for WBCs, and Croatia and Slovenia as a benchmark. The results show that Twitter and Facebook are the most used social media. In WBCs group, the FAI index could not be calculated for BIH and Serbia, while the other two countries had high index values. Benchmark countries have lower values but they are significantly highlighted by individual sub-indices. The governments of the researched countries mostly publish promotional information about their work. Consequently, they have a relatively small number of friends/followers/subscribers and comments/shares/likes on social media. Therefore, these countries fail to use the full potential of social media to increase visibility and transparency of their work and to ensure communication channel for idea and information exchange between government and citizens, making the public policies design more inclusive and increasing trust between government and citizens. The findings provide an insight into the nature of activity on social media in WBCs. While FAI scores show that WBCs do not lag far behind established benchmarks, the research proves that some of the weights proposed in the literature and used in the calculation of FAI index are too simplified to adequately evaluate posts on the Facebook pages. Hence, this article contributes above all to the awareness regarding further potentials and the interdisciplinary aspects of stately social media usage, in theory and practice alike.
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