Social media adoption accelerating among Middle East businesses

Krishna Gopal, Tech Mahindra

The adoption of social media is rapidly accelerating among businesses in the Middle East region, strategically placing itself as an integral element to today’s marketing mix. This has led to a re-shaping of consumer attitudes and behaviour like never before and has become a key influence in positioning brands and images and influencing consumer perceptions. Krishna Gopal, vice president-Global Alliance and Sales for Middle East and Africa, Tech Mahindra was one of the lead panellists in a discussion titled “Impact of Social Media in the Middle East and the Government’s support, or lack thereof,” during the Arab Advisor’s 8th Media and Telecom Convergence Conference held in Jordan recently.

According to Krishna Gopal, the increased adoption of social media has stirred in a significant growth trajectory thereby imposing a change in the way brands are formulated and communicated. He further shared that the early years of social media was dominated by the Google-Yahoo-Microsoft (GYM) presence.

However, over the last few years, the entry of more powerful and strategic social media platforms like Facebook-YouTube-Twitter (FYT) has created a whole new sense of social activism or social capital. Pronounced as ‘Fight’ or ‘Fit’, FYT has ushered in a more people or WE-centric approach, which removes individualism and replaces it with co-existence with other people.

He also pointed out that companies today have embraced social media not only as a means to promote and talk about their products and services but also to create a collaborative interactive and instantaneous platform that fosters strong peer to peer interaction, engaging communication, devoted involvement and fruitful dialogue.

“Social media continues to play a both crucial and strategic role in the Middle East region’s move towards growth and development. The significance of social media in today’s society makes it a fitting and important issue to be discussed in this year’s edition of the Arab Advisor’s conference,” says Gopal. “The shift towards a more WE-Centric society demonstrates how people have fully grasped the idea of accomplishing something with the help of emerging technologies and how these newer social platforms can be utilised as a mechanism for delivering concerted results using the power of people.”

The panel also discussed the need for Arab companies to fund start up companies in the region, so as to fully utilise the maximum potential of social commerce and social media through pro-active efforts and initiatives. In line with this, the panellists made the call for the creation of a Pan-Arab platform for e-commerce and application downloads, thereby preventing the need for having to use services coming from outside of the Arab world. The call was made stronger with the fact that leading countries like Jordan and Egypt, which offer strength in education, entrepreneurship and population, can provide the region with an effective Arab alternative to search engines like Google and Yahoo and social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

“The Middle East region should now look into the formation of a strategic platform that can help address the needs and requirements of e-commerce and also provide users with a wide range of reliable and effective application downloads. With the emergence of economies in the region boasting of highly skilled IT specialists, we can develop more Arabic based search engines and social networking sites that will allow Arab users to work in more familiar settings,” concluded Gopal.

The Arab Advisor’s Media & Telecom Convergence Conference is an annual event that aims to showcase the latest developments within the telecom and media sectors whilst shedding light on the new landscape that has redefined various aspects between both sectors as a result of telecom and media convergence.