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16 January 2018 
 

The Benefits of Social Networking

 

ISSUE 2 - DEC 2012

‘Tell me how many Facebook fans you have and I tell you how much you are worth.’ Everyday more and more companies and organisations join social networking to promote their services and products. The more networks one joins the more ‘fans’ you get and that is what most companies are interested in. Social Network companies such as Facebook or Linkedin are valued in terms of their population. With around 500 million people, after China and India, Facebook has the largest population on Earth. Twitter is not doing badly either. Its users have also increased by 40% in the last two years. Muslims have shown mixed feelings about the use of such networks and some have questioned the permissibility of joining them altogether. But ignoring this phenomenon may not be a wise strategy for Muslims; a pro-active approach from Islamic institutions could provide positive outcomes. Marginalisation of people and communities can take various forms and in today’s world; unnecessary self-imposed restrictions can work against us. There is ample evidence that social media is an effective tool in increasing attendance at events and seminars or providing a good recruiting platform for volunteers - such a necessary component of charity organisations operating on a limited budget. There is a marked difference between having just a website and being on a social network. Social media are different; as they are much more mobile and fluid, taking advantage of news feeds that can instantly appear on all sorts of receiving devices. Furthermore one can get instant feedback on how much people like or dislike what you are doing, giving an organisation the possibility to adjust its activities and make better informed decisions. However, choosing a network clearly depends on the type of the activities involved. For example it would not make much sense for an Islamic centre or a mosque to have a presence in Linkedin while it would certainly benefit those who venture onto Facebook. A five minute video on the activities of a Centre, featuring a friendly-faced scholar giving a virtual tour of the place could work wonders. It is a relatively inexpensive way to give people who would not normally have the courage to ask to see the inside of a mosque, the opportunity to look inside. Budget permitting an Islamic centre could invest in more sophisticated video advertising. Once it has been placed on the internet it will work around the clock. It is vital to be rigorous about updating our social profile. There is nothing worse than having to deal with outdated information on a network page. A continuous and dynamic presence on the network and a prompt response to members’ enquiries is a must. Keeping up to date with a network page to stimulate interest should not take more than 20-30 minutes per day. The purpose of being part of a social network for a mosque or an Islamic centre is to get closer to its members and the public. Simple actions such as tagging photos and posting thank you messages for donations or support received can help reinforce the social bonds that already exist. Muslim organizations need to engage with the general public and youths in particular if they want to be relevant and in doing so they must not shy away from using these relatively new means of communication. •
by Zahra Halabi ... read more