The tide of social media which has swept the world has brought with it several platforms that have provided individuals, businesses, and governments a means of interacting and connecting in a new way. One such platform is LinkedIn, a social media tool aimedmainly at professionals to help them grow their networks and careers. Although built primarily for professional networking, LinkedIn is also largely used by organizations for online promotion, recruitment and hiring, and for generating discussions and debates on the latest news, trends, and breakthroughs.
Although Facebook and Twitter lead the use of social media internationally, LinkedIn seems to be catching up quite rapidly. From marketing and engagement activities to establishing professional networks and recruiting, LinkedIn is being used by individuals, businesses, and even governments to broaden the reach and penetration within target segments. The surprising thing about the growing usage of this particular social media site is that it is not limited only to the Western world, which has always been the frontrunner in embracing such changes. Rather, the Arab world, particularly the UAE, is seeing a meteoric rise in the number of LinkedIn users.
As pointed out above, Facebook and Twitter lead the rankings in terms of the most widely used social media tools, but LinkedIn follows closely. In fact, compared with other countries in the Arab region, the UAE ranks highest in LinkedIn usage.
As of October 2014 there were over 9.4 million LinkedIn users in the Arab world, up from 7.6 million users in January 2014. The UAE has, since early 2012, consistently been the country with the highest LinkedIn penetration in the Arab region with just over 25% of the population using the social media platform today. The number of users has increased from over 860,000 in February 2012 to roughly 2.1 million in October 2014, a growth of 1.2 million users, representing a 142% increase during that period.
The majority of LinkedIn users in the UAE are male, between the ages of 18 and 35, and includesrecent graduates and established professionals. Only around 28% of users in the UAE are female, which is close to the regional average of 29% but significantly lower than the global average of roughly 46%. The percentage of young LinkedIn users (those under 35) has increased over the past year from 57% in February 2014 to 60% in October 2014. This is lower than the average percentage of young LinkedIn users in the Arab region, which stands at 68%. Being one of the more balanced countries in terms of the age of its LinkedIn users, this indicates the increasing maturity of LinkedIn usage and its prevalence across all age brackets, not just recent graduates and young professionals.
It can be easily said that there is still ample opportunity for growth in terms of the uses of LinkedIn. Speaking strictly with regards to the public sector, governments and semi government entities can use LinkedIn for various purposes. Government agencies can use LinkedIn for expanding their reach and accessibility to the general public. Those governments especially that are pursuing e-Government or smart government approaches can use this platform to help attain their objectives. Similarly, government-owned investment companies can use LinkedIn to solicit investment ideas, find potential investors, and to create awareness regarding development projects. If nothing else, LinkedIn, as with other social media sites, offers a great way of simply connecting with more people and creating a large professional network.
Public sector organizations around the world are making good use of LinkedIn. A few examples of good practices observed globally are highlighted below:
With the announcement of Vision 2030, and the e-government initiative by the Government of Abu Dhabi, it is not surprising to note that the use of social media sites, including LinkedIn, is on the rise in the country. Most, if not all, government and semi government agencies are using LinkedIn for online promotion, citizen engagement, recruitment, and wider accessibility. Particularly, the use of LinkedIn for promotion of development projects and investment in the country is seen as an integral tool in the achievement of the vision.
Some examples from within Abu Dhabi that demonstrate its effective use are discussed below:
With innumerable examples from the international arena as well as from within Abu Dhabi itself, it can be safely said that LinkedIn is proving to be much more than just a professional networking site. What is commendable is Abu Dhabi’s proactive incorporation of this particular media in its promotional and engagement activities to spur the kind of interest and business that is conducive to the attainment of Vision 2030.