Governments should use social media to engage with Arabs active on Facebook and Twitter
DUBAI-Despite the rising numbers of Arabs online and 82 million active social media users across the region, the use of social media channels to communicate with the government is still limited. The public sector’s online communication with citizens remains primarily one-way, as 74 per cent of the Arab internet users who visit government social media pages do so just to access information about government entities.
Social media’s increasing potential for governments to proactively engage citizens will be a key topic of discussion at this year’s GCC Government Social Media Summit. Industry experts from across the region will share their views on how social media can be used to engage with audiences and potential industry partners and generate leads for business growth.
Scheduled to take place from 17 – 18 September 2014 at the Sofitel Dubai Downtown, the GCC Government Social Media Summit 2014 will be held under the theme of “innovative social networks for effective collaboration & smart governance” and is expected to attract more than 300 regional and international communications and social media experts, decision makers and executives.
Catering to the individual needs of regional communications and social media professionals, the summit will feature six industry-specific workshops that are customized to help delegates from various sectors better understand the needs of their particular audience groups. These tailor-made sessions will run in parallel with one another and spark stimulating discussions about how social media can be leveraged in key sectors including government, healthcare, defence, tourism, foreign affairs and education.
The session for defence professionals will see digital media specialists explore the fine line between the positives of staying engaged while balancing the risks associated with staying online for information-sensitive, government defence organizations. Simultaneously, the Social Media for Government workshop will analyze how governments can effectively respond to current issues and needs using this dynamic channel and how social media strategy should be developed for government entities. A third parallel session will help tourism sector specialists to discover the secrets of scaling their national brands or destinations using social media.
“Arabs today have a positive attitude towards governments engaging with citizens via social media channels,” said Fadi Salem, Director of the Governance and Innovation Program at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government, and member of the GCC Government Social Media Summit 2014 advisory board. “In one of our most recent surveys, we found that 55 per cent of respondents strongly support governments’ use of social media in delivering public services.”
“While we are still at a beginning of an era where increased social media utilization is empowering citizens and allowing for real collaboration models with government entities, the Arab region is witnessing increased innovative examples where the ‘business case’ for using social media for co-design, co-production and co-delivery of public services is taking place.” Salem added.
“It’s never been more important for technology companies and governments to come together and explore the possibilities of connecting citizens with the services they use every day,” commented speaker Elizabeth Linder, Politics & Government Specialist at Facebook Inc. “At Facebook, we’re committed to opening the dialogue between citizens and governments and I personally look forward to discussing these issues at the GCC Social Media Summit.”
“The conversation around the role of social media in the GCC has evolved from treating it as a novelty to recognising its importance as a key channel for communication, advocacy and engagement,” said Yousef Tuqan Tuqan, Chief Innovation Officer at Leo Burnett Group of Companies MENA, who will also be speaking at the summit. “There are incredible opportunities for governments, brands and organisations to meaningfully connect with their constituents across every aspect of their lives.”
The summit will also include a private, invitation-only Directors’ Workshop on social media collaboration, customer engagement and policy setting. This private session will provide a focused and effective platform for social media directors and government leaders to explore the strategic issues faced by government social networks. Delegates will discuss the importance of a long-term communications vision for social media activities and building strong foundations for social networks.