DUBAI: The Kingdom’s health, education and sports ministries were among the government’s top social media performers in 2021, according to a report analyzing their digital activity.
The “State of Digital Government” report was put together by social media marketing company Emplifi in partnership with advertising network Extend.
“Social media is a valuable tool for government agencies to communicate with citizens and residents, to build and establish trust, share important information quickly and in real-time, answer questions and engage at a more personal level,” Christian Bechara, Emplifi’s vice-president for the Middle East and Africa, told Arab News.
“The world is increasingly social first, and public sector organizations compete with private sector brands for the same attention and awareness,” he added.
“Saudi Arabia recognizes that digitization and innovation in governmental services are necessary to provide capabilities at scale, to lead as a G20 country, and to keep up with the shift in information consumption.”
According to the report, the Ministry of Health had the top-performing social media accounts, while the Ministry of Education had the top-performing website and the Ministry of Sports ranked first in terms of “e-participation.”
It said also that the Ministry of Municipal Rural Affairs was the most active, the Ministry of Education the most mentioned and the Ministry of Health the most followed, as well as having the most engaging content, most new followers and most engaged users.
According to Bechara, the report analyzed the digital performance of 24 ministries across 81 social media accounts and 24 websites.
“In 2021, we saw exponential growth in followers across all ministerial social media accounts, and in particular, 7.1 million new followers,” he said.
In terms of the people talking about and engaging with Saudi ministries, the report found that about two-thirds were aged 18 to 35 and about 75 percent were male.
“Around 66 percent of social media users are Gen Z, which is no surprise — they’ve grown up with the internet and social networks at their fingertips. In their eyes, government agencies are another brand competing in the same space,” Bechara said.
When looking at the content, the report found that while 62 percent of all posts used photos, the most appealing format was video, which accounted for 42 percent of all engagements.
That picture was similar to what was happening in the private sector, Bechara said.
“Short-form video as a means to share information and updates, plus the use of influencers is a common strategy across all organizations and part of a successful marketing mix.”
Saudi Arabia’s young, highly connected population, coupled with the Kingdom’s digitization and modernization efforts has positioned social media as the ideal channel for the government to connect with its citizens.
Bechara advised ministries to “continue focusing on your audience, using data and metrics to tailor content.”
But he said governments should not use social media for all their messaging. Rather they should think about the relevancy and value of social media content “and how it will be perceived.”
“Lastly, always engage with your followers,” Bechara said. “Social media is very much here to stay, and it’s great to see government agencies pushing boundaries.”