In the Gulf countries, Instagram and Snapchat are the most used social media apps, according to Qatari media personality Khalifa Al Haroon, while expat communities prefer using Facebook the most.
“People have a short attention span for getting information as quickly as possible and move on to the next thing,” he told Saudi Gazette.
Al Haroon, also known as Mr. Q the ‘friendly neighborhood Qatari’ on the popular YouTube show QTips- presents facts and tips about Arab traditions in comic sketches, has a knack for technology and is constantly on the lookout for the next big thing in social media.
Speaking to Saudi Gazette, he shared his insight on social media in the Arab world and how it has influenced knowledge consumption.
“Social media is absolutely critical in voicing people’s opinions or just keeping up to date to something that is trending,” says Al Haroon, who was listed as one of the 100 most influential young Arabs in 2015.
“Social media is an easy way to get viral content and distribute it as fast as possible. It’s a great tool to feel the pulse of society.” Searching for certain keywords can indicate how people are reacting to it either negatively or positively.
“It’s also very emotional. And typically in applications like Twitter, people are quick to tweet and put something out there without really thinking how it’s going to impact society or themselves. That’s one of the reasons why social media is so useful but also potentially harmful.”
New media talk
The young Qatari entrepreneur runs a number of businesses under Haroon United Group, including the ‘I Love Qatar’ network that is followed by thousands of fans.
Recently, much has been said about the decline of traditional media, such as newspapers, radio, and even television. With new media online, there’s engagement and two-way communication between users all over the world. However, Al Haroon thinks it’s far from being a battle between the two forms of media.
“I think they both complement each other. They’re two very different types of content, and I think people can appreciate the journalism that goes into writing in a newspaper compared to some of the light-hearted stuff that is frequently found online. Today when I talk about new media, I think the battle now is between websites and social media platforms.”
Websites, he said, are less visited due to traffic on social media platforms. People are reluctant to go to outside links and leave the platform, choosing instead to consume information from the same Facebook page, for example. Features such as Facebook Connect on login pages and other websites has also played a role in continuously engaging with users.
He further says the content should be on all kinds of platforms to serve all segments using Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook among others. “People consume information in different ways.”
From his experience as a YouTube host, he said: “I like YouTube’s model of rewarding people who create content. Although I wish they would re-examine how much they pay content creators in this region because it’s not worth it if a million views only gets you a hundred riyals. It takes time and effort and energy to create that content.” He added that YouTube allows people to engage in comments, share content easily, and learn new things.
According to the Arab Social Media report in 2015, social media has been almost a necessity in everyday life, used to connect people more easily, enabling creativity and expression, as well as enhancing business enterprises.
A survey stated 67 percent of people use social media to follow the latest news while a majority of 81 percent uses it to connect with others.
This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on Feb. 5, 2016.SHOW MORE