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Summit on social media role in govts

Dubai, September 4, 2012

How governments can use social media for effective internal and citizen communications will be the focus of an upcoming summit in Dubai.

The GCC Government Social Media Summit will take place from September 17 to 19 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

The summit brings together case studies from US Department of State, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, New Zealand Ministry of Interior, UAE Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior, and other organisations from Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

The summit acknowledges that government communication is a dialogue and not a monologue by providing many examples of ways to foster two-way communication between government and citizens.

Dan Slee, who leads UK’s local government social media initiative and a widely respected blogger, is addressing the summit.

“Social media is playing a more dominant role in various walks of life, and governments are acknowledging this evolution. Hence progressive governments are now planning to harness social media to facilitate more direct interaction with their citizens, in a manner that is both time-saving and cost-saving,” said Slee.

“For instance the UAE has championed the social development through innovative platforms like MyGov, which aspires to revolutionize the way people interact with their government. More inventive organizations will monitor where they are mentioned online, analyze what triggered both positive and negative comments, and pinpoint where to improve.

“It is no longer about attracting the most followers, but answering their questions and engaging them with an open mind without getting defensive. Sometimes this necessitates a less ‘official’ voice and a more ‘down-to-earth’ one.'

He added that governments are leaning towards social media partly because it offers tremendous savings: “A Facebook page is free to set up. However, we're not that good at working out how much time investment we'll need and we're also not great at reporting back the benefits accrued.”

Shane Dillon, from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said: “Consumers are demanding engagement from government social media.  In the early days of social media you might have got away with simply broadcasting information using social media channels.

“Consumers increasingly want brands and government to interact with them especially on Twitter. So if a citizen posts a tweet asking for example where they can find information about a government service you should make every effort to reply.  Chances are other people will see your reply, find it useful and re-broadcast your reply to others.”

Dillon added, “In the past consumers would perhaps phone or email organisations asking for information, they still do but increasingly they are doing this via social media channels.

“The more interactive you are using social media the less demand you will have in terms of telephone enquiries.  This is particularly true during time of crisis, consumers will demand accurate information and you should be using your social media channels to meet these demands.” – TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Dubai | government | Summit | facebook | Twitter | Social media |

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