MENA governments stand to gain from social media investment. The region has witnessed a wave of social media applications and networks used in social, commercial and political contexts.
How social are MENA governments today?
Many have dabbled in it, but engagement through social channels is still largely reactive in nature. However, the MENA region has invested heavily in technology infrastructure and therefore has created the opportunity to drive digital adoption. With demographics favoring a youthful and multi-lingual population, mobile has emerged as the preferred communication device. With Facebook now beating Google in web traffic, it has become more critical for MENA governments to invest in social to effectively engage their constituents.
Citizens in the Middle East are more savvy than the services currently offered by their governments – they want direct, real time access to information and personalized interactions. The 2011 Arab Spring clearly demonstrates how the region is turning to social: during this period Facebook subscriptions rose by an average of 30% between January and April. Twitter also experienced a spike in activity in Egypt and Tunisia boasting a tweet increase of 140%. More recently, US President Barack Obama’s Facebook page has been a platform for Abu Ismail's supporters to communicate their frustration at Egypt’s presidential election row. (Read the full story here) While the use of social has been dominated by politics in the region, Governments need to recognize its standing as a preferred communication tool.
How can governments institutionalize social media?
Booz&co has recommended the following:
- Integrate social with traditional marketing Channels
- Develop social media capabilities
- Ensure their social offering and strategy is adaptable for future progress
They also need to understand who their online constituents are and what they want to know so they can ensure online content is relevant and consumed. Governments need to establish clear objectives and governance of social media strategy. They need to institutionalize it and educate employees on social platforms and content publishing. Information must be accessible and interactive, allowing constituents to offer feedback. Finally, they need to measure the success of their social campaigns – while monitoring "likes" and "followers" are good metrics, comments and suggestions are more indicative of engagement.
If you found this interesting, why not take a look at the following:
Image source: Fels Institute of Government