Social media in Sri Lanka continues to reach a wider audience day by day. Apart from personal users, professional bodies, established companies and other recognized institutions, Government organizations too are taking up social media to connect with their advocates and followers. The Government of Sri Lanka social media usage is very much at its early stages, with Facebook being the most popular site among the various Ministries and Departments.
Most of these accounts have equal participation throughout a given period of time, unlike political accounts where more engagement could be seen when elections approach. Most of the leading Ministries and Authorities were found to have active social media accounts with frequent participation.
Ministry of Tourism of Sri Lanka on Social Media
The Ministry of Tourism has the best social media practices among all the Government institutions, with active participation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Lots of planning is apparent in their Facebook page, which hosts a variety of colourful photographs and videos. The page had made use of the site’s ‘Apps’ platform, by adding various photos under various categories, to showcase the beauty and splendor of our island. The page is reaching 50,000 fans, and with its active participation, that number is sure to grow as months pass.
The Twitter account consists of tweets hailing directly from Facebook. For a Ministry that is so important to the country’s economy, it is advisable that there’s direct participation on Twitter in order to reach a wider range of audience. The YouTube channel is home to some lovely videos showcasing the country’s historical, natural, religious, wildlife and culinary aspects. The channel has almost 100 subscribers with a total view count of over 40,000.
The Defense Ministry has both a Facebook and Twitter account that posts news items orienting from the defense.lk website. The tweets, which contain links to the news items, are posted automatically on to Facebook, and thus avoiding any direct engagement on the latter. The Facebook page has just over 100 fans and there’s no fan feedback for them whatsoever. The Twitter account too has under 20 followers with 200 tweets. For a leading ministry in the island, we could say that this is a poor effort. More action needs to be taken in order to bring these two accounts to an appropriate activity level.
Sri Lankan Information Services on Social Media
The official news portal of the Government has a Facebook, Twitter and a YouTube account. The Facebook account is very active, providing daily news updates along with the links to the website. The page has over 2,000 Likes but the fan interaction is at a bare minimum. The Twitter page has been inactive for several months now and no effort has been taken to post news items through the account. The YouTube page is constantly updated with the latest videos in the political and administrative arena. The page has almost 80 subscribers and total video views amount to almost 150,000.
The Government Information Centre, which is supposed to provide reliable information about the Government and public services has official pages across four social networks but all those accounts are at an inactive state. The Facebook page has over 2,000 Likes but no effort is being taken to gain the best use of this platform to connect with the general public. The Twitter page has posted just 7 tweets and the YouTube page has just 2 videos. For such an essential Department, it is expected that the authorities put in more effort into these social media pages as a means of providing reliable information to the public.
The ICTA Programme of the Government provides essential details, information and news updates to the general public through their social media accounts. The Facebook page posts photographs, links and other valuable updates through their page. All the posts are deeply informative and offer guidelines to the general public in about obtaining various Government services. The page was created in April 2013 and has so far accumulated 100 Likes. The Twitter page is relatively less active but posts essential information occasionally. The YouTube page is not active at present but it does have several informative videos that were updated in the past. One commonality about these three pages is that none of them have had proper user interaction. The Facebook Likes, Twitter Retweets and YouTube views are at low levels compared to the other pages in this analysis.
Sri Lankan Armed Forces on Social Media
The Police and Armed Forces in Sri Lanka too have set up social media pages and have accumulated considerable amounts of fan interaction. The Facebook pages of Sri Lanka Police and Special Task Force are both at inactive states with few hundred followers each. These pages have posted photographs, videos and links to news articles to keep the general public informed about the activities, events and updates. Sri Lanka Army’s Facebook page is not active at present but has accumulated over 3,500 Likes with a considerable amount of fan interaction. The Special Forces Regiment of Sri Lanka Army has a very low level of activity but has 17,000 fans. The page posts photographs and videos of recent events as well as news items and updates.
Sri Lanka Air Force owns one of the most active pages in this analysis, with over 10,000 Likes on Facebook, it posts about events and news items. The page also keeps its fans posted about the upcoming events and how the general public can get involved in them. The user interaction too is at a positive level with many Likes and Comments on the posts. The Facebook pages of Navy, Navy Hockey and Navy Special Boat Squadron are inactive at present but have posted photographs and news items in the past. The Rana Viru Seva Authority too has a Facebook page but it has been inactive since April 2012.
Sri Lanka Ports Authority has a considerably active Facebook page that posts news links, updates and photographs on its page. The page has over 500 Likes and attracts a prominent level of Likes and Comments for its page. The newly constructed Mahinda Rajapakse International Airport has a Facebook page with more than 40,000 fans and it posts daily updates regarding its flights and airline news and events. The Airport and Aviation Department page consists of news links but is inactive at present.
The Facebook page of Sri Lanka Railways has not been active since February 2012. Until then, the page had been active with relevant news links being posted and updates shared to the public. The current inactive state of the page slightly reflects the sorry state of the Department and its affairs. Thousands of commuters travel by train on a daily basis and it is important for them to know about the updates and latest happenings regarding their main mode of transportation. Social media could be a vital tool in reaching out to some, if not all, commuters to provide vital updates, as well as to display train schedules, station information etc.
Compared to Sri Lanka’s Railway Department Facebook page, Indian Railways is miles ahead in its social media engagement. Its Facebook page has 5,000 Likes and attracts a high number of Likes and Comments for its posts. Among the posts are photographs, videos and news items to keep the public informed about latest happenings.
Sri Lankan Airlines, a brand that is vital for the country’s image and economy, has a very active presence on both Facebook and Twitter. The pages have 110,000 Likes and 2,600 followers respectively. Both pages have daily updates about the deals and offers of the airline as well as other essential information. The fan interaction on these pages is very high, since foreigners too, resort to these two pages to get the information they need. A specialty about the Twitter page is that it is one of the few accounts in Sri Lanka that replies to customer queries. The account reaches out to the followers directly to provide the services and information they need. This effort should be highly commended since customer service via Twitter is still a largely neglected aspect in today’s commercial world.
Sri Lankan Banks on Social Media
The Central Bank has an active Facebook page that offers daily updates to its 2,000 followers. Its YouTube page too, uploads several videos every week and has 40 subscribers and almost 10,000 video views. Bank of Ceylon, another state owned bank, has its own Twitter and YouTube pages but both pages are at an inactive state.
The Colombo Stock Exchange has set up a Facebook page but it has not been active whatsoever since its inception two years ago. For a highly talked about institution among most of the general public, having an ill-maintained Facebook page is not accepted. Majority of the population hold some Shares in some Company and it is important that the general public know about the latest updates and news with regard to the Stock Market and Exchange dealings. One easy medium to reach out to the Shareholders and to keep the public informed about news updates is social media but the Colombo Stock Exchange has not put any effort into it.
Comparatively, the Facebook pages of National Stock Exchange of India and Karachi Stock Exchange of Pakistan are highly active throughout the week, providing updates, news and information to the subscribers. India’s Stock Exchange provides useful information to the public while Pakistan Exchange offers highly informative financial details of the Exchange. The fan activity on these pages too are at a high level. This is a good example of how useful social media could be even for a Stock Exchange.
Sri Lankan Ministries on Social Media
The Atomic Energy Institute and Board of Investments both have Facebook pages that are not active at present. Lanka Gate and Government Mobile Services Department, both information service departments of the Government, are not active at present.
Ministry of Agriculture has quite a level of activity with 200 Likes and it posts news articles and photographs on its page. Ministry of External Affairs too, maintains an active Facebook page with constant news and video updates. The Foreign Employment Bureau’s Facebook page posts photo albums and news items to its 300 followers. The Customs Officers Union and Customs Biodiversity Division, both belonging to Sri Lanka Customs, have set up Facebook pages in the past but none of them are active at present.
Sri Lanka Economic Development Board’s Facebook page offers constant updates on news items and economic updates and the page has over 300 Likes. The National Institute of Education, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission and Fisheries Ministry are other accounts that are not active at present, while the Facebook pages of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and Colombo plan are constantly updated and also have a considerable level of fan activity.
Government of Sri Lanka Social Media Usage
Overall, the Government of Sri Lanka social media usage is still at its early stages. We could expect some improvement over the coming months since the internet use among Sri Lankans, as well as institutions and organizations is increasing. It would be better for both the Government and the general public if more effort is put into the social media channels of these institutions. Having active social media pages could result in the general public’s increased faith towards the Government as well as offer citizens reliable sources for information, news and updates.