Three Tips to Having a Successful Blog in Kuwait

Over the past three years blogging has become one of the Kuwaiti youth’s biggest spheres of influence. Kuwait is a small country, and trends become popular in small amounts of time. Once a few blogs became relatively popular, blogging became the thing to do, and the Kuwaiti public was being introduced to local Arabic and English blogs on a daily basis. And although the blogging frenzy has died down a bit (i.e., the bloggers that still blog are primarily the ones who kicked off the trend to begin with), it is still very much a strong influencer among Kuwaiti youth, especially if used in the correct way. Here are three tips to running a successful blog in Kuwait.

  • Kuwait is a tradition-based culture, and people value religion and family above all else. To avoid offending anyone, you should try as hard as you can to avoid getting involved in religious matters, especially if your point of view isn’t the public’s point of view. The Kuwaiti public is sensitive towards religion, and considering the blogs’ audience, youth, you wouldn’t want to discuss religious matters period regardless of if it’s in a positive or negative light, because even though they respect it they also don’t want to hear about it all the time. Kuwaitis also value family highly, but again considering that most of the Kuwaiti blog readers are young, you don’t want to necessarily aim your blogs at families or include a lot of family-oriented material. Just be aware that you shouldn’t insult family culture and that values of individualism don’t mean as much in that part of the world as they do elsewhere.
  • In Kuwait, blogs are anything but media for activism. Blogs and social media have become some of the go-to places for activists worldwide; however, this is not the case in Kuwait. Kuwait is such a small country that the government will notice any blogs that criticize the government or the ruling family, especially if it has people talking. Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy, meaning that it has a ruling family, who constantly need to keep a check on their citizens to make sure no one is getting out of line, and blog censorship is one of the ways they do that. In fact, a few bloggers have already been arrested for speaking against the royal family on their blogs.
  • You are writing to a consumer-based audience. So far I’ve written about everything you shouldn’t write about, but here is what I think you should write about. Judging by the context of the more successful blogs in Kuwait, the Kuwaiti blog reader is mainly interested in consumer-related news, like openings of restaurants and shops. It has become a norm for new smaller businesses (e.g., restaurants, hair saloons and specialty stores) opening in Kuwait to contact some of the popular blog writers so that they could write a short post on that business in their blogs. Kuwaiti blog readers are also interested in local anecdotal stories (i.e., not the news per say, more like the silly news), especially if there is footage of that story online, and they’re generally interested in the kinds of videos you’d see on Tosh.O.
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Rick Perry asks Supporters to “Forget Me Not”

We’ve all had our “ummm” moments that we can’t explain even though we knew what we needed to say; and for some, those moments can be damaging and consequential. Last week while I was watching the Republican presidential debate on CNBC, I saw Governor Rick Perry make his now infamous stumble over what state departments he would eliminate. I knew the media would have a field day with this mistake. In fact, many mainstream media sources have gone as far as saying that Perry no longer has any chance of winning the race, and they’re most likely right.

In response, the Perry campaign has gone on a public relations campaign over the past week in an attempt to regain some momentum. Perry’s first response came through various media channels where he had a chance to clear up his comments in person, and afterwards the Perry campaign created the “Forget Me Not” media campaign. The first part of the plan was to send an email to the Perry supporters asking them which federal agency they wanted gone. After that, members of the Perry campaign went to Twitter and created the #forgetmenot hashtag to bring more awareness to the campaign.

I personally have many problems with this response and its effectiveness, and I think that some of the methods go against the campaign’s values. To begin with, most of the mainstream media knew that Perry meant the Department of Energy since it wasn’t the first time he had talked about eliminating this department. For the Perry campaign to go out and start asking their supporters which agency they wanted gone seems to go against the campaign’s values. It’s almost like saying because Perry made a mistake in the debate, the Perry campaign gives their supporters the right to change one of Perry’s policies. And that’s essentially saying that Perry isn’t as committed to his policies as he is to appeasing his supporters, which isn’t a message any president should be putting out there.

I also question the effectiveness of creating a Twitter hashtag and hoping it becomes trendy. There is no guaranteed way of making a hashtag trendy, and the Perry campaign should have tried other methods to gain awareness. And to add more insult to injury, the governor’s only use of the hashtag was in a joke he made from his official Twitter account about forgetting the time. It’s almost as if no one was taking this seriously. In my opinion, this was one bad PR move after another and the sad part is that the Perry campaign doesn’t even know it.

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Socialbots Sneak up on Social Networks

Just when you thought it was safe, a group of students at the University of British Columbia (UBC) proved you wrong. Fears about social network privacy and security have long been on the mind of anyone who has opened an account on a social network, such as Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace. And from time to time stories like this one come up that give our fears credibility. At UBC, four university students managed to collect 250 GB worth of information off Facebook accounts using fake accounts.

The students used something called socialbots, which is software programmed to create authentic-looking Facebook accounts and then adds friends using those accounts. Once the software has added someone, it is programmed to send friend requests to that recently added person’s friends. The programmers created it this way because they realized people are more likely to accept a friend request if it’s sent from someone with shared friends.

Within eight weeks, using 102 Facebook accounts the bots managed to make more than 3,000 friends. Facebook only managed to flag 20 of the fake accounts, mainly due to the accounts being flagged by other users. Facebook does have the Facebook Immunity System, which is supposed to prevent people from creating fake accounts, but it wasn’t effective here.

In response, Facebook has claimed that one of the main reasons the students were as successful as they were was because they initially started this operation with actual university accounts and only later created the bots and added them in. The bots are then usually sold online, but not in this case since they were strictly for research purposes.

This is not the first time that Facebook’s privacy security has been questioned; it has been frequently called out for its privacy policy, which sees new criticisms year after year concerning its guidelines. More recently, Facebook also tested software this summer that would identify users in pictures and tag them without their consent, which also caused an uproar from Facebook users.

Facebook walks on a very tight rope when it comes to privacy, and the only reason it can keep doing this is because it is the go-to social network right now; however, that won’t last forever, and just like MySpace hardly saw its demise coming, Facebook could see itself in a similar position if it doesn’t smarten up and back off users.

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Soccer Teams Chose Publicity Over Profit

Today I came across an interesting article about a Mexican soccer team that put each player’s Twitter handle on that player’s jersey, as well as the the team sponsor’s Twitter handle on all the players’ jerseys. That team is Club de Fútbol Jaguares de Chiapas, and it turns out they weren’t the first soccer team to put Twitter handles on their jerseys; Spanish club Valencia CF put their Twitter handle on the team jerseys when problems came up in guaranteeing the club a shirt sponsor for the year. What is even more interesting about Valencia’s particular case is that the Twitter handle was actually in the place that is usually reserved for shirt sponsors.

Valencia CF

Last year, I created a social media plan for the Miami Heat as part of a class assignment, and had I had an idea like this one, I believe I could of done much better. Personally, I haven’t encountered too many stories like this one, and I actually haven’t seen any sports team use Twitter handles this way. The clubs are not only promoting themselves, but in the case of Valencia, it also shows that the club is more committed to putting its name out there than it is to generating a profit. And in the case of Jaguares, the club has made it extremely appealing to advertise on its jerseys by offering sponsors a new medium for advertising.

There has been a long debate in the soccer world about shirt sponsors and how putting the logo of a company on your jersey makes you similar to an advertising billboard. For example, Spanish club Barcelona were heavily criticized last year when they ended a club policy that didn’t allow them to have paid shirt sponsors. The other concern is that these companies might have a conflict of interest with the club sometime down the line. Many clubs have been accused of “selling out;” two of Europe’s biggest teams, Real Madrid and AC Milan, are sponsored by BWin, Europe’s largest online sports betting company, which inevitability causes some to raise eyebrows. On the other hand, using that same infamous shirt space for something that encourages fan involvement can positively affect how fans view their relationship with the club.

Club de Fútbol Jaguares de Chiapas

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