Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Social Media: A Developing World on its Own (Reflecting upon L&T Session 2)

Title: Research Highlights on Global Social Media and some highlights on Saudi Arabia
Speaker: Tony Proudian

Following a session of general food for thought on social media shared by Mr. Tarek Shawki, Director of UNESCO, we’ve just been given some interesting insights by Mr. Tony Proudian into current global buzz created about social media.  Mr. Proudian, Managing Director of PARC (PAN Arab Research Center) shed some light on research-based highlights conducted by PARC on global social media, followed by a narrowed down perspective of social media in Saudi Arabia.

Analyzing global and local trends in social media and its impact on consumer behavior, the study included over 22,000 respondents across 27 countries through North America, South America, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Australia.

Of all the statistical information Mr. Proudian shared, I listened most attentively – and naturally so – to be that which concerned my surroundings, i.e., Saudi Arabia. Saudi youth within the age range of 16-24 are the most frequently active with social media; and those within the range of 25-36 use social media more frequently for blogging, job hunting, and browsing.

While informative, the results didn’t surprise me (and I’m guessing that’s how it may have been for most others too). The younger generations are inevitably more adept in technology given that it’s practically been a part of their upbringing. They call people in this particular generation the NetGens for a reason. Over 70% of the Saudi population is said to be under 30 years old.

Based on insights shared in this session, I can see social media utilization swiftly developing from merely a widespread trend to a de facto standard. It’s an “inescapable phenomena,” as Mr. Proudian puts it; one that has created the language of “teck teck” [mimicking key clicking sounds] for especially the pre-Gen X generations. Yet, it’s not all as promising as it sounds, the “teck teck” language being “spoken” is not entirely of “substance.” In other words, Mr. Proudian reveals that 1.9 billion users of the Internet (28% of the world population) comprises of passive users.

This transitioning stage leaves one wondering what a future of complete immersion in social media would be like, the opportunities it will open, the boundaries it will cross (for the better or worse). This new global platform for communication will inevitably require its own legal framework.

Nonetheless, one thing I know for certain is that the key to successful and effective utilization of social media is and will be conscientiousness.  

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