In a country where 96 percent of Internet users utilize various social media platforms, we cannot deny the fact that social media is here to stay. The questions that are usually on everyone’s mind, however, arrive as the following: Should you share it on Facebook, Snap it, or tweet it? Is social media use in Kuwait merely a trend, or is it because users in Kuwait truly want to stay connected? More importantly, are we making social media work for us, or have we become slaves to the latest updates? For digital media consultant, social entrepreneur extraordinaire and CEO of Kuwait’s renowned Social Lobby Hind Al-Nahedh, knowing how to make social networking work for you should always be your priority.
Hind’s experience spans over ten years in the industry. The journey from traditional to new media continues to teach Hind priceless lessons, yet she makes the transition appear seamless. Hind’s incredible work includes: Heading up the social media department at VIVA Telecom, starting up Global Investment House’s female empowerment technology initiative Ghalia.com.kw, being president of Kuwait’s Social Media Club, consulting Kuwait’s Ministry of Youth and successfully launching the Shabek campaign, and starting her own social media Marketing company Social Lobby. We can absolutely claim that Hind has utilized social media for channeling positive change.
Today, you could easily tune in for her weekly online podcast, Go Social Smart, to gain a better understanding of how people from different walks of life are making use out of Social media. Alternatively, you could follow Hind online, alone, to uncover a wealth of information about her activities, social entrepreneurial endeavors, and the various projects she is involved with. People from afar, let’s call them social observers, can be quick to assume that she’s online for the sake of being online. However, the social media guru knows exactly what she is doing. More importantly, she knows why.
With a career in promoting technology, Hind’s early start with NOKIA in 2000 firstly indicated to her that the Kuwait market is “tech savvy, adaptive, trendy and likes to spend a lot on mobile. I got a glimpse on how this culture engaged with technology even prior to my time with VIVA. The lifestyle in Kuwait is trendy, and the rise of Social media amplified this lifestyle.”
Hind’s interest in social media was initially sparked during her time with VIVA Telecom in 2009. Coinciding with VIVA’s launch in Kuwait, she spearheaded a new digital approach to marketing at a time where telecom companies didn’t consider the aspects of engaging the youth online. With a fully-fledged online campaign, Kuwait’s VIVA launch was enriched with digital aspects that fully engaged the youth demographic in Kuwait. “With the support of the Mark-Comm department at VIVA, I attended a new media seminar that furthered my desire to create a social presence for the brand. We launched the Book Your Number campaign online, and that captivated the youth market.” Hind also wanted to start up another digital department within the Marketing and Communications department solely dedicated to digital marketing, and fully integrated with the company’s other marketing activities to convince management that these youth segments actually exist. She added, “Experimenting with a brand that was willing, and more importantly, is excited to utilize these types of tools and platforms was a rewarding experience.” The kickoff of digital departments coincided with the rise of bloggers in Kuwait, prior to the Instagram phenomenon. This further reminded Hind that social media was here to stay. From there, she decided to follow her ethos. She said, “To be honest, social media puts the public back into public relations. Everyone is online, and everyone has a voice and a public relations position to talk about the brand itself. Marketing, technology and PR, are all merging, where one needs to be a multipotentialite in order to perfect an entrepreneur of the social field.”
What, exactly, is a multipotentialite? This is a person who isn’t necessarily a specialist in a certain field, yet is interested in several fields and how to maximize the benefits involved in utilizing their various talents and interests. Her light bulb moment for Social Lobby arrived when she worked alongside Khalid Al-Zanki to bring the renowned “Crush It” seminar by Gary Veynerchuck to Kuwait. As soon as Hind decided to build a career around what she is most passionate about, everything began to fall in to place. She said, “We are a data-obsessed society, we need connectivity wherever we are”.
When it came to Hind starting a family, while working on launching her own company, yet still imparting knowledge about best-usage social media practices online, she realized that “social media can be adapted to suit our needs as modern women. With Social Lobby, and even the Go Social Smart Podcasts, I hope to set an example for other women to follow suit.”
All of these activities organically poised Hind towards success with Social Lobby and social entrepreneurship. At the end of the day, her goal is to engage the private and public sector with the community to resolve issues. That’s what makes Social Lobby different. Perhaps, that’s what makes Hind different to the typical social Influencer.
As with everything else in life, balance is key. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by social media, Hind is taking the smarter approach. “It’s always a choice. We don’t need to be frazzled, we should feel empowered by social media. Trying to do everything, without adding value to people, is pointless and would affect your credibility.” Hind makes an excellent point, as knowledge is plentiful online, and this is what brought her attention to podcasting. “You want to educate, create great content on iTunes that is easy on the ears and people would learn from.”
The good, the bad, the ugly, and the distractive; all of these aspects come with the social media territory, and this is why Hind’s Go Social Smart podcast aims to shed light on the importance of balance and best-use practices in social media. For example, Hind speaks to mothers about kids’ addiction to technology, and how using social media could make things better and not worse. She explained, “The most expensive online currency is people’s attention. We are living in a screened life, filled with distractions. There are little things that anyone could do to better their usage online, and the quality of your time on social media. Going offline is actually cool now.” The importance of creating time online and offline makes all the difference to Hind. It reinforces her beliefs, and what she chooses to do online.
With the weekly Go Social Smart podcasts, Hind not only tackles these issues, but also brings a human element with real interaction to listeners in Arabic. You could even catch some of the podcasts live on Periscope, where users reply with live feedback during Hind’s sessions. “No matter what, we are human after all. Because of how fast life is, we want things instantly. The pace of life has changed and so have our lifestyles.”
Hind loves interviewing people. “If I wasn’t Hind at Social Lobby, I would want my own TV show! I love stories that inspire, meeting people and extrapolating information and knowledge. Social media is about being you, while being social with someone you are meeting or interviewing makes the process more realistic, making for great engaging content.”
“It’s important to get to know the people using social media in Arabic as Arabic language content is lacking in Kuwait and the region. There are merely a very few books written about social media platforms tools and tips in Arabic. When it comes to podcasting however, people have had enough of traditional learning messages. Go Social Smart podcasts offer a thirty-minute talk that you could listen to at any time.”
Podcasting is the next big thing. Publishers are dropping their audio files to interviews online, and people enjoy listening to interesting content while on the go. Hind said, “Various media platforms are gearing up for Radio on Demand. TV went on demand, so why not radio? It is the future of media. Many people forget the importance of sharing great content in a language that the listener would understand. Out of respect to the extended audience in the region, the use of Arabic is key.”
Well, are we going to fall into the same trend-driven trap? Will we all be podcasting by next year? The numbers might indicate this, but that’s not the point. At the end of the day, content is king. “As long as the content is informative, and I get to always be myself, what I like and dislike opinion-wise, would be clearly communicated. As long as the field is handled smartly.” She added.
“Always being a couple of steps ahead is a matter of your choice,” Hind concluded, “people might call me crazy for investing in podcasting today, but I believe in the work that is being done, and that it is truly doing good to listeners.”
Photography by Muneera AlKhulaifi.