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Abu Dhabi Culture & Tourism

How Abu Dhabi is boosting tourism with social media

CASE STUDYAbu Dhabi Culture & Tourism

The Department of Culture and Tourism—Abu Dhabi works to regulate, support, develop, and market Abu Dhabi’s tourism industry through activities aimed at promoting and preserving the emirate’s heritage and culture.

Abu Dhabi is a world-renowned metropolis that blends a rich cultural history with a stunning, modern cityscape. Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) is tasked with developing and promoting the entire emirate, with the broader objective of supporting the evolution of Abu Dhabi into a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction.

Building brand awareness and engagement were top priorities, so the Department knew it needed to focus on developing a comprehensive social media strategy. But with an internal team managing multiple agencies across different regions, that strategy needed to be built around simple, scalable processes and workflows.

Here, we’ll discuss how DCT used Hootsuite Enterprise and the Brandwatch social listening integration within it to achieve their goals.


DCT set out to help its social team and partner agencies work more effectively by unifying the organization’s processes for developing and scheduling social content.

Its goals were:

  • Improve engagement levels on its social media profiles, specifically Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  • Increase its efforts on social media during peak times, such as Graduation and Orientation Week
  • Have greater collaboration across different departments and ensure consistency on all social media channels
  • Use the reporting feature to demonstrate the benefits of social media to senior members of staff
  • Understand the latest trends and topics taking place on social to help deliver content which is timely and appropriate

How they did it

Bringing social teams and agencies together wherever they are

With an internal social media team overseeing several agencies across multiple locations, DCT has more than 25 people managing its social media efforts. One of the Department’s biggest initial challenges was managing activity across such a large and distributed team to ensure the correct posts went out at the right time to the right audiences.

Marketing a destination as opposed to a product or service also comes with very specific challenges as target audiences are much wider and vary greatly. As a result, careful and targeted planning is needed to ensure content is consistent and relevant for audiences.

The team had been using email and other communication channels to coordinate its social efforts, resulting in inconsistent messaging and inefficient governance processes. With Hootsuite, both DCT staff and its agencies now have a highly visible and easy-to-use platform to plan and manage all social media activity.

By mapping its workflows and ensuring governance through one dashboard, both DCT and its agencies are now able to understand their exact responsibilities, alongside the status of projects and tasks across all social channels. With a more strategic and consistent approach, the team is producing content more regularly and at a higher standard of quality—and boosting reach and engagement across DCT’s social channels as a result.

Using Hootsuite’s mobile apps, DCT staff can approve content on the go while attending events and conferences, proving that a thorough approval process doesn’t have to slow down the pace of posting and engaging on social. In addition, giving it access to a solution that can moderate across all social channels.

Winning with social has really helped us work towards our goal of promoting Abu Dhabi as one of the most desirable places to visit in the world, and Hootsuite continues to play an important part in this success. It has been invaluable to be able to govern all social media activity through one platform, so that everyone can understand not only who is doing what, but can also easily work together to boost reach and engagement globally.
— George Kalliamvakos, Digital Media Manager, Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism

Using social listening to shape campaigns

To reach more people on social, DCT needed to make sure it was discussing the most relevant topics and joining the right conversations. Using the Brandwatch social listening integration within Hootsuite Enterprise, DCT can find and follow conversations about Abu Dhabi on social media to understand the types of content audiences on each channel want to see.

By displaying Brandwatch mention results in a stream within the Hootsuite dashboard, DCT can engage directly with the content in real time. Stream content can also be filtered by a number of Brandwatch filters to customize the results most relevant to a specific campaign or initiative. For example, the DCT agency responsible for Louvre Abu Dhabi can now use a stream to filter results relevant to the museum.

Understanding analytics to iterate and improve

Analysing social data helps DCT create a more nuanced understanding of its audiences on social media. Using Hootsuite Analytics and Brandwatch Vizia—an integrated marketing reporting and command center solution—allows the team to track “non-owned” conversations about Abu Dhabi’s travel and tourist attractions, as well as conversations about competing destinations. By doing this, DCT were able to identify negative conversations about Abu Dhabi and use the insight to inform its social strategy for that particular market.

This data is displayed in customisable dashboards that the team monitors in real time. Using these dashboards, the team analyzes the success of social campaigns and makes adjustments to optimize performance. Results are reported to other teams and to senior government stakeholders as proof points to the success that social media is having.

The team tracks social campaign performance, key themes, and website performance metrics, and also identifies and engages with online influencers. The Brandwatch Vizia integration also allows DCT to track news stories, trending topics and sentiment to build a bigger picture of the perception of Abu Dhabi. This allows the marketing team to create a comprehensive strategy and messaging for all marketing activity.

One of the biggest challenges with social is proving its ROI, but through our analytics and command center tools, we are able to show the value to the whole department and beyond. We are now coming up to our third year of working with Hootsuite and we can’t wait to see how the platform and integrations continue to develop.
— Ahmad Dohjoka, Media Planner, Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism

The results

With Hootsuite, DCT has transformed the way it manages social content, reducing time spent planning, scheduling, and approving content by 60%. Hootsuite has also allowed for a collective environment when moderating the channels.

The team has succeeded in its overall goal of increasing engagement and raising awareness, achieving:

  • a 151% growth in followers across all its social accounts
  • a 71% increase in post volume.

What’s more, since using Hootsuite, DCT has seen:

  • a 54% increase in website sessions via social referral
  • a 14% increase in conversion rate

Due to this social success, the organization is planning to grow the internal team to keep up with demand.

With agile social marketing informed by sophisticated social listening, DCT listens and engages in real time with people talking about Abu Dhabi. The Department creates content that matters to its audiences, and is building loyal communities across its channels. With the ability to prove the value of social to senior government stakeholders, DCT is in a position to negotiate increased investment to continue driving awareness of Abu Dhabi as a culturally unique and desirable global destination.


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