The Social Media Forum is to take place in Dubai next week and it’s already sold out. This is interesting news for those in the Middle East who thought we really didn’t want to listen to another word about social media and don’t ‘need another talking shop’. I must admit, we’ve been avoiding the term ‘social media’ ourselves and substituting ‘digital’ wherever possible because it’s not all about social media alone – it’s about the Internet and the transformation in human behaviour we are all seeing. The result of that transformation has been the rapid migration of our attention to online media in a remarkable way.
Today’s consumer is Googling new ideas, words and the names of new friends and contacts. We’re sharing information and opinion using social platforms. We’re also taking a new approach to how we view property, storing our music, books and now films ‘in the cloud’, sharing our creativity, ideas and work for free, either under Creative Commons licenses or on platforms ranging from Blogger to Instagram – all behaviour that would have seemed inconceivable a few years ago.
It’s hard to keep up. Who had heard of Instagram a year ago? Who had heard of Pinterest six months ago? Pinterest became one of the top ten social media networks by December 2011 after just seven months in operation.
Business is struggling to adapt
Technology is driving rapid change in our lives, challenging companies in all industries to try and work out how these changes impact them. And taking the view that it’s all about marketing is really missing the fundamentals – the change is deeper than that.
Many businesses in the Arab world today are still struggling to come to terms with what these changes are and what they mean. Many others have started to experiment with new media and meeting the needs of more empowered consumers. Few have truly evaluated the potential impacts of online technologies and the way they are changing human behaviour.
The one thing we can all be certain of is that we know very little. The landscape’s changing almost daily – and everybody’s learning lessons. And that’s why we need platforms like the Social Media Forum, ArabNet, MediaME and Click. These events give us the chance to share ideas, approaches and best practises. Sometimes it feels like we’re going over old ground, but when we’re trying to cope with such rapid change – taking stock of where we are and refocusing on all those moving targets is no bad thing.
See you there!
Alexander McNabb will be chairing the Social Media Forum on Thursday May 3rd at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre. He’ll also be giving a talk about corporate content and digital marketing called ‘Take Back Your Content’ at 2.50pm on May 3rd. You can find the agenda for the Social Media Forum here. If you use Twitter you can follow tweets about the Forum via hashtag #SMF2K12.
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