Social space: A roundup of all the GCC social media news in August
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Social space: A roundup of all the GCC social media news in August

Social space: A roundup of all the GCC social media news in August

Fadi Khater, founder and managing partner of digital marketing agency Netizency, provides an overview of social media trends in the region

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The top three most discussed topics were health, education and entertainment in that order followed by electronics, finance, and automotive.

Health discussions continued focusing on the effects of Covid-19 in the Gulf, as cases have decreased and efforts are now being redirected towards managing the ‘new normal’ to prevent another wave while restarting economic activities.

Besides the general Covid-19 conversation, discussions also peaked around the devastating explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.

Dominated first by the uncertainty regarding the circumstances of the explosion, the conversation quickly evolved into an expression of outrage against the authorities for their responsibility in the catastrophe and for their lack of action in the aftermath. Organising volunteer networks through social media channels, the Lebanese people swiftly took matters into their own hands.

Given the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic combined with the wide-reaching damage of the blast, the Lebanese community in the Gulf stepped in to aid people on the ground, utilising and innovating through the digital space to support and connect activists, charity organisations, and individuals with potential donors.

One such initiative is Raje3 Yet3amar, a peer-to-peer donation platform that we launched at Netizency. Aiming to cut the middleman, we connect donators with people in need and the specific thing they require money for, from doors and windows to store shelves and medical bills.

Educational discussions were once again centred around the back to school season. Covered with facemasks in social distanced classrooms, students have begun the new academic year in some Gulf nations. While the UAE has allowed the full return to physical classrooms, Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain are implementing a blended physical/online system.

While Saudi Arabia is going fully digital for the first seven weeks of the school year, there have been issues, with a hashtag in social media about problems with the new e-learning public platform gaining considerable traction. Meanwhile, Omani students are still waiting, since their academic year will begin only in November.

For those GCC citizens and residents taking GCSE and A-Levels in the UK, August had good news. Following intense online activism against the use of a new algorithm that lowered 40 per cent of predicted scores, and affecting students from poorer backgrounds disproportionally, the government eventually relented and assigned predicted grades as final — retreating from a decision that could have potentially ruined the university prospects for tens of thousands of students.

Entertainment conversations reached their peak after the passing of American actor Chadwick Boseman at 43 after battling colon cancer for four years. Boseman was widely regarded as an icon of pride for black communities worldwide.

His portrayal of T’Challa, king of the African nation of Wakanda and civilian persona of superhero film Black Panther, became an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2018.

Youth in all Gulf nations joined the mourning of Boseman. Eulogising the immense cultural impact of his work for underrepresented communities around the world, the actor was also praised for his involvement with children’s charities and humanitarian organisations.

TikTok was at the center of the intersection between technology and politics in August. Still embroiled in a legal challenge with the Trump administration, TikTok also saw its CEO, former Disney top executive Kevin Mayer, leave after just four months.

Reports now suggest that Microsoft is not alone in its bid to acquire TikTok’s US operations and that it’s teaming up with Walmart. Oracle is rumoured to be interested, too, and could become a serious challenger to the Microsoft team in a battle that appears will continue for the upcoming months.

Social update August

Netizency conducted a social listening across all social and online media from the GCC between August 1-31, 2020 to gather the information on popular trends.

The latest updates to social media platforms include:

– Adds analytics tool to sort and examine all the followers of company pages
– Introduces ‘Share a profile’ to share a connection’s profile through a post

– Tests displaying quote retweet counts next to the three indicators of replies, retweets, and likes
– Begins blocking links that direct to hateful content after updating its link policies
– Starts considering premium features as part of a possible paid subscription service
– Labels government affiliated accounts with an identification tag
– Rolls out reply limit settings worldwide
– Launches new transparency centre to show the data from their transparency reports
– Adds extra user details in DM requests including mutual followers and a bio snapshot

– Brings official music videos to Facebook Watch after striking exclusive deals with music labels
– Expands paid partnerships to Groups
– Improves alert customisation giving more freedom to choose specific alerts from followed pages
– Launches a paid online event feature without transaction or hosting fees
– Redesigns its ad preferences panel to make it easier to adjust the frequency of ads from specific brands and topics
– Launches a new educator hub with learning resources for teachers

– Officially releases ‘Reels’ to take on TikTok
– Tests including a dedicated ‘Reels’ button to its app’s navigation bar
– Adds suggested posts to fill space with more content and ads if users see all of their timeline posts
– Swaps profile nametags with QR codes to share IG profiles
– Makes private account sharing easier with a prompt showing users if their friends will be able to see a post from the selected private account

– Stops sending email notifications announcing new video uploads after persistently low open rates

– Grows its digital audio ads options and includes them as part of cross-format campaigns
– Expands Google My Business editing accessibility allowing businesses to update their profiles directly from Maps and Search

– Rolls out a tool to fact check messages by searching the web for verification
– Adds Messenger Rooms calls on desktop

– Secures deal to add songs to videos thanks to new license agreements with music labels
– Releases AR dance lenses in partnership with TikTok creators to be used in TikTok dance challenges
– Looks to expand off-app content sharing of Snap Originals, Publisher Stories, and other original programming

– Adds text headings to video thumbnails for previewing video content


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