Take care when using social media

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The term ‘social media’ have been known to all of us for over a decade now. At first, it was used for leisure purposes; now it has been recognised for its importance for conducting business around the globe.

However, care must be taken on how it is being used, experts at a panel discussion on media and technology have said.

Event attendees

The event was attended by many industry experts including Sara Al Madani, board member of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Shereen Ghabrial, general manager of Pyramedia Media Consultancy & Production; Vinay Kamat, editor of Khaleej Times; and Noor Shamma, founder of the Postcard Initiative.

Culture sharing around the globe

Sharjah’s Chamber of Commerce board member, Sara Al Madani highlighted how social media today is a platform for many users to share their culture with millions of people around the world. Through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, people can learn about different cultures, trends, and what is making news around the world. However, she also pointed out that with the many positives that come with using social media, there were also a few negatives such as inappropriate content, and being bombarded with information that has nothing to do with you.

“It is important to choose a social media platform that works best for you,” she said. “Some people will, of course, misuse it, so it is up to you to determine how best to use it. If something offends you, then you can easily choose to ignore it or unfollow that person. Decide what interests you and follow it, and you will have a whole world of opportunities open to you, whether it has to do with business, entertainment, or lifestyle.”

Precautionary measures

Other than highlighting the benefits of social media, Al Madani, also cautioned attendees on using social media and technology to an extent where it is having a negative impact on your relationship with different people.

She added, “You must remember that some people, especially elders think it is offensive when you are on your phone constantly in front of them. For them, it is a sign of respect when you give them your full attention. Also, it is imperative to monitor what children today are learning from social media, as everything today is online. A lot of the content is inappropriate for young children and care should be taken to make sure that they are not exposed to it.

The General Manager of Pyramedia Media Consultancy & Production, Shereen Ghabrial pointed out how businesses that fail to have a social media presence in this day and age will not be very successful.

Expanding with social media

“Most businesses today have several different social media accounts that are linked to their website, and which they rely on to reach a wider audience,” he said. “For example, a fashion house might have five shops in different locations that attract a certain number of customers. Now, with social media that same company can attract almost triple the number of their current clients. Their penetration online can reach millions of people. Also, your range is not limited; for many businesses in the UAE today, social media is the tool with which they can expand their operations to the other GCC countries. E-trading is the name of the game now, and people are making millions through the use of social media.”

According to Vinay Kamat, the editor of Khaleej Times, social media has made a tremendous impact on journalism and mainstream media.

Journalism has had various transformational points throughout history. January 15, 2009, was one such date which sent out a signal that journalism as we knew it was about to change,” he added.

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