28 Feb 2012 (40 Pages)
In recent years, social media has become increasingly present and important for social networking and content sharing. And yet, the content that is generated from these websites remains largely untapped. Social media has exploded as a category of online communication and is fast changing the public discourse in society because of its ease of use, speed and reach.
The world of social media is regularly changing. Facebook, Twitter and other major social networks are gradually becoming social dashboards. The first three months of 2011 saw a substantial shift in the Arab world’s usage of social media. Facebook continues to be the most popular social networking tool in the region and has expanded its user base to over 677 million users as of April, with the Middle East constituting one of the regions that contributed the largest amount of new users. Countries including Qatar, Turkey, Bahrain and UAE displayed Facebook penetration rates of more than 30%, indicating a pervasive use of Facebook in their societies. On the other hand, Twitter has recently grown to become a powerful micro blogging tool used for purposes ranging from marketing to news aggregation and dissemination among others. The number of Twitter users has grown to over 200 million by April 2011, with about 30-40 million "active" users.
As the prevalence of social media continues to rise, organizations of all types and sizes are recognizing the ways in which social media can help them better understand, respond to, and attract the attention of their targeted audience. As a result, businesses are now jumping on the social media wagon at a rapid pace, embracing blogs, social networks, wikis and other vehicles to achieve their marketing and public relations goals. MENA cellular operators are increasingly adopting social media channels for customer care and promotion purposes. Cellular operators are also using social media platforms, mainly Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as a tool for online marketing. Telecom operators may conveniently enrich and automate social network activities on mobile phones, making it easier for final users and, thus, backing the adoption of Social Networks by a wider portion of the population.
Today’s social media landscape is significantly more cluttered and complex than its early days. The abundance of content that is easily accessible makes launching and sustaining noteworthy online projects challenging. As social media matures, the need to measure online word of mouth and demonstrate success becomes indispensable. Social media is expected to become the main activity of the average Internet user and the future of online advertising is clearly bright as “offline” ways of promoting are increasingly abandoned and the online modalities are put into practice.