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Social media gaining more leverage

KUWAIT: The social media has certainly dominated the headlines in the past few years, and it remains perhaps the most important new frontier in the world of news, marketing, and other domains. Kuwait has the highest percentage of social media users, in proportionate to the population, in the Middle East. With its fastness, viral results, inexpensiveness and seemingly easy usage, social media has become an extraordinarily attractive platform for news, experience-sharing, social interaction and promotion of businesses of all sizes.

A number of experts, from different domains, have highlighted the importance of the optimal use of social media in all domains in Kuwait but warned against misusage of these technological tools in violating the state laws, inciting hatred or spreading extremism. "Social media, known as new media, has become more influential than the conventional media in the past years mainly for two reasons, its fastness and spread," political analyst Ibrahim Dashti told KUNA.

He, however, stressed that users have to double check and not to take for granted news posts and updates of social media sites. Meanwhile, media expert Saleh Jerman pointed out nobody can ignore the growing leverage of social networking sites all over the world, especially in the Arab countries. "The social media has played a major role in the recent popular uprisings in "Arab Spring" countries," Jerman told KUNA.

"And In Kuwait social media is growingly gaining ground in media scene. Social networking sites have become a major source of news and important player in the political scene. He noted that Twitter tops the list of most influential media sites in the political street. Social media refers to so-called Web 2.0 technology that doesn't merely present information, but that allows for user-generated content and community interactivity. The most important and wide-spread social media sites are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Google+.

There are over 1.3 million active Twitter users in Arab countries. Kuwait leads the way in Twitter penetration in Arab nations at eight percent, ahead of Bahrain at four percent, Qatar at two percent, the UAE at two percent and Saudi Arabia at one percent. Kuwait sent almost 60 million tweets in March, 2012 (source: AllTwitter). Experts also added that successful social media marketing maximizes customer engagement to foster a sense of community and increase traffic.

"We have managed to widen our customer base and reach out to our clients through our pages on social networking sites," Ahmad Sadek Maarefi, owner of restaurant chain in Kuwait, said. "It also helped us to upgrade our services and save much effort and money to promote our brand," he added. The experts, however, warned that users have to take into account the disadvantages and negative impact of social media.

In spite of its huge advantages, social media has some disadvantages including the use of these sites to damage reputation of innocent people, spread rumors or extremist ideas or law-breaching materials, Political Analyst Ibrahim Dashti said. Legal expert and lawyer Mariam Al-Bahr echoed a similar view. "A huge number of law suits have been filed against Twitter users in Kuwait recently for offending religion and political leadership." She also raised alarm that posts on social networking sites were the cause of a considerable number of family disputes in the past years. - KUNA


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This article was published on 15/07/2013