An Arab perspective on social media : how banks in Kuwait use instagram for public relations

Al-Kandari, Ali A. and Gaither, T. Kenn and Alfahad, Mohamed Mubarak and Dashti, Ali A. and Alsaber, Ahmad R. (2019) An Arab perspective on social media : how banks in Kuwait use instagram for public relations. Public Relations Review, 45 (3). 101774. ISSN 0363-8111

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    Abstract

    This study examines the public relations functions of eight Kuwaiti banks listed in the Kuwait Stock Exchange Market (KSEM) that post on their Instagram accounts. It also uses market-size, organization, and individual level predictors to model Instagram postings. A content analysis of 1502 posts revealed the banks use Instagram for promotion, information dissemination, community building, and interactive engagement, in that order of prominence. The findings suggest banks operate at the confluence of visual communication through Instagram and integration of religious sym- bolism to serve a public relations function predicated on image and influence. In doing so, the banks tap into the wellspring of social media use by target publics by navigating a balance between obedience to Allah and meeting bank business objectives. The resulting tension between sacred and secular highlights Arab cultural values and suggests Instagram fosters individualism, which challenges Arab emphasis on collectivism and fractures the notion online platforms can effectively build meaningful relationships that characterize Arab culture. The study posits Instagram is more effective in an Arab context at image building than relationship building, threading the importance of visual communication through social media across Arab culture and global public relations practices.