Impact of Social Media in Arab Countries ?

Social media or what is called social websites has become a crucial method for communication development and a key driver in the way individuals and organisations across the globe create a collaborative environment. Despite the fact that social media are broadly used among individuals. It is not well understood how cultural issues and individuals motivations influence their social and professional use.

Social media has exhibited an exponential penetration into the daily lives of individuals, the operations of businesses, and the interaction between governments and their respective people. It would not be far from the truth to state that social media has become an essential requirement for our daily personal and business life.
Perceptions about Social Media – Social media in the Arab world is perceived as having numerous positive aspects that enhance the quality of life of individuals, business profitability and governmental interaction with the public.

More than half the users in the Arab World use social media primarily to connect with people. While gaining information, watching videos, listening to music and sharing photos came as the second top main reason for using social media. – Chatting is the most common activity among users in the Arab world, followed by reading posts added by other people.

Facebook and WhatsApp are the most used social media channels across the Arab world. While Face book was the top used social media channel on the aggregate level of the Arab World.

On average, one third of users spend less than 30 minutes per session when using social media, and 5% spend more than 4 hours per session. More than half the users are most active on social media during evening hours.

Arab Social Media Report Pros on Business and Economy On Arab Society Cons

  • Enables faster business growth and expansion
  • Direct revenue generation through social media
  • Improving corporate image
  • Marketing and advertisement platform
  • Talent hunt
  • Encourage consumer-centric and transparent approaches
  • Connecting people together and shortening distances between them
  • Instant platform to get news and information
  • Aid in learning new things
  • Offers entertainment features
  • Allows for “cheap” means of communication
  • Offers opportunities for job hunting and career growth

Social Media Impacts

Internet users in the Arab world were quick to embrace the new technology and utilize all what social media has to offer to connect, communicate and share information with others. The youths in the Arab world were among the top groups in social media usage. However, they were soon joined by other segments of the population. Shortly after that, businesses and media were swift to ride the new wave of social media to establish virtual presence, connect with their respective customers and leads, and to advertise their products and services. Also, the Arab governments have realized the importance of social media, and in turn, began leveraging the new online territories.

The whole world watched the events in the Middle East and North Africa some years ago with feelings of inspiration, fascination and awe – awe at the power of digital technology, at our ability almost to be part of it and to watch it in real time thanks to the power of today’s media, and above all awe at the courage and bravery of the individuals who inspired the Arab Spring, powered it, and died in its name.

The Internet – and social media specifically – played a pivotal role in connecting protestors during the uprisings known as the “Arab Spring”. Hivos organised a workshop at the first Arab Internet Governance Forum convened in Kuwait in October 2012 to discuss the impact of social media use in the MENA region and to what extent it is shaping the notion of freedom of expression.

Social media also helped provide real- time coverage of events thanks to the availability of mobile devices, transmitting events as they happened both across Egypt and worldwide. Social media and mainstream media coverage alike placed huge pressure on the government and encouraged influential allies such as the US and European Union to gradually change their stance and confirm the oppressive nature of the (former) Egyptian regime.

They have realised it is a powerful, cost effective tool with great social impact that can help them implement their political programmes.

Social media channels have also opened the doors to various groups advocating for specific issues, such as women’s rights or freedom of information groups, to reach out to a wider audience and to join forces in order to influence policy-making in these areas. The same applies to emerging groups in Tunisia, who used social media to generate awareness on the importance of taking part in the constitutional reforms.

It was stated that the strong will of the people in the region to demand social reforms was assisted by the availability of the Internet. Whereas social media had been mainly used previously for social, leisure and relationship opportunities, it became the tool that sparked and maintained the persistent calls for change during the Arab uprisings. Government clamp-downs on social media tools during the protests triggered interest in using further third-party applications like Hootsuite to monitor the ever-burgeoning range of social media and gain a broad view of mainstream social media and other trending media. A conspicuous spike in social media usage was noted, and it is believed to have had a significant impact on shaping the democratic process some Arab countries are going through presently.

Social media helped influential bloggers to communicate their political viewpoints, which went viral and influenced many of their supporters. Online discussions were eventually reported on by domestic and international television channels, which greatly amplified their resonance.

To measure social media influence in Egypt for example, Klout Score was used to define the impact of some accounts on Twitter and to what extent their tweets triggered people’s interest instantly from the number of reactions. It is worth mentioning that the widespread use of social media has also positively affected the level of openness in Arab political discourse, with most users expressing their opinions of presidential candidates and their eligibly to run for the elections quite bluntly. We could therefore conclude that social media has had a definite role in shaping public opinion.

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