Governments are increasingly relying on social media channels to proactively communicate and engage with key audiences, delegates were told at the first day of the 3rd GCC Government Social Media Summit.
The rising adoption of social media channels by governments in the Middle East was highlighted by speaker after speaker at the event sessions.
Held under the theme of “innovative social networks for effective collaboration & smart governance”, the third GCC Government Social Media Summit 2014 kicked off today (17 September) in Dubai and brought together more than 250 regional and international communications and social media experts, decision makers and executives.
Independent Researcher Dr. Saeed K. Al Dhaheri underlined the UAE government’s focus on social media and the importance of online channels in enhancing communications between governments and the people.
“Social media is very valuable to government organisations as it is an almost free marketing tool that allows them to reach their target audience groups effectively and efficiently and create wide-spread awareness of the services they offer.
“In the Middle East, more than 12 million people interact with governments via social media channels, sending as many as 140,000 tweets in Arabic and 270,000 in English.”
Elizabeth Linder, Politics & Government Specialist at Facebook, Inc. UK discussed how social media is enhancing people’s trust in government departments.
“A study conducted in the UK showed that today people trust police updates posted on Facebook and social media more than the information the police shares on TV and other traditional media outlets. In fact, information shared on social media channels is even more trusted than the complaints residents register on the phone.”
“The human interface and personal connection elements of social media networks facilitate more conversations and allow people to build greater levels of trust.”
Commenting on how government institutions such as Dubai Police are enhancing public engagement on social media, Colonel Khalid Nasser Al Razooqi, General Director of Smart Services at Dubai Police said:
“We are gradually shifting our customer services online and now offer a number of mobile and e-services which has greatly facilitated people. For instance, residents can now obtain government documents in ten minutes via mobile and email, a process that would previously have taken three days.
“We now observe more than 50 per cent of people using e-services to reach out to Dubai Police. According to the most recent statistics, more than 23 million mobile transactions have been performed to pay traffic fines since we launched our smart services in November 2013.”
The summit also featured six industry-specific workshops, customised to help delegates from various sectors better understand the needs of their particular audience groups. Catering to the individual needs of regional communications and social media professionals, the tailor-made sessions sparked stimulating discussions about how social media can be leveraged in key sectors such as government, healthcare, defence, tourism, foreign affairs and education.
The 3rd GCC Government Social Media Summit is sponsored by ICUC Moderation Services Inc, Microsoft, IMS Health, Meltwater and Brndstr. Other supporters, partners and key contributors include the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information, Middle East Public Relations Agency (MEPRA), Exantium, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority and Four Communications.