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Best practices for Government strategies in a social-first world, by Socialeyez’s Heena Mak Garey

By Heena Mak Garey, director of strategy and research at SOCIALEYEZ.

It’s 2022, and Social Media is the frontline of all government communication. As 98% of the UAE’s population uses social media every day, there is no doubt that it has evolved into an essential tool for the public sector to engage with its citizens. If managed poorly, it can create challenges; if managed strategically, it could open a whole new world of opportunities. How can government strategies become more impactful? Heena Mak from SOCIALEYEZ explains.

Social Media is a portal of meaningful interactions, and when it comes to government communication, it is much deeper than that. The ability to address misinformation, provide news straight from the source and a channel to manage crisis instantly are some of the top considerations for government strategies. To ensure the content gets through the online clutter, here are five elements to consider for impactful government strategies.

  1. Leverage insights: At SOCIALEYEZ, our value proposition is insights, strategy and creativity. As an agency that manages some of the Nation’s most prominent government accounts, insights are the key to our success. When looking at data, we go beyond the vanity metrics and look at the quality of engagement, our audience’s sentiment, genuine interest and shareability of the content.
  2. Set Intent: Whether you are trying to raise awareness about an initiative or deliver timely and accurate news, the intent is as important as the content. Proactive communication and transparent information will allow you to strike positive dialogues and reliable engagement. As part of the strategy process, our goals guide the entire course of content, channels and execution. When setting goals, I recommend going beyond generic objectives of awareness or interest; and looking deeper into what type of engagement matters the most to you.
  3. Communicate relevance: When I design a strategy for a brand, the process is driven by what the audience finds relatable. On the other hand, a government entity demands relevance to take precedence. A survey of 17,000 people by McKinsey found that citizens showed higher customer satisfaction when governments understood and engaged through the entire end-to-end journey of citizens. The survey attests that the content people expect from a formal entity must be of relevance to them in the exact moment of their social mindset.
  4. People first: People trust people; this is especially the case with government communication. Leveraging authority figures and their content is a crucial exercise in building trust. As Hootsuite’s ‘2021 in Government Social Media suggests, 90% of government agencies are on social media and, on the contrary, only 65% of public sector leaders and ministers have a presence. Leaders are a great representation of the public voice, and deploying their strengths is fundamental in creating a well-rounded strategy.
  5. Manage crisis: The pandemic has been unprecedented in every aspect of the public sector, including communications. It created a need to address misinformation, avert crisis and keep the public informed more rapidly. The public is looking to government social pages not just for information; but also for reassurance. From a strategic point of view, this meant creating proactive and reactive content that foreshadows and reports, respectively. Government communication relies on each second of timeliness to be effective; a big part of the agency role is to adapt and provide consultancy in minutes. There are no second chances here; a wrong tweet or an incorrect word can be taken out of the context and cause more harm than good. The agility needed must be met with equal parts accuracy.

Strategies for government communication is not about gaining followers or getting likes; it is about supporting the mission and adding value. Whether it is reducing the burden on traditional forms of customer service or communicating policies effectively, the demand from agencies is growing in government departments and entities.

This demand has created an opportunity. Agencies can use social media to strengthen their ‘brand’ in the communities they serve. It is not just about broadcasting updates; it is about building trust and making citizens feel heard. Being the frontline of communication has come with a cost; citizens expect more from their government’s social media stories, and agencies will have to think on their feet to keep pace.

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