The associate dean in the School of Communications and his fellow researchers examined the public relations functions of eight Kuwaiti banks listed in the Kuwait Stock Exchange Market that use their Instagram accounts, conducting a content analysis of more than 1,500 posts.
Kenn Gaither, an associate dean and professor in the School of Communications, collaborated with several fellow communications scholars to write an article in Public Relations Review on how banks in Kuwait use Instagram.
The article, titled “An Arab perspective on social media: How banks in Kuwait use Instagram for public relations,” was published online on May 7 and uses mixed methods to analyze how Kuwaiti banks use the social media platform as a function of public relations. In total, eight banks listed in the Kuwait Stock Exchange Market (KSEM) were examined, with a content analysis of 1,502 posts revealing that the banks use Instagram for promotion, information dissemination, community building, and interactive engagement, in that order of prominence.
According to the article’s abstract, the findings “suggest that banks operate at the confluence of visual communication through Instagram and integration of religious symbolism 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.”
Gaither’s co-authors include Ali A. Al-Kandari and Ali A. Dashti of Gulf University for Science and Technology – located in Mubarak Al-Abdullah, Kuwait – Mohamed Mubarak Alfahad of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense, and Ahmed R. Alsaber of the University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom.
Gaither has previously collaborated with Al-Kandari, co-publishing a 2012 Public Relations Review article titled “Arabs, the West and Public Relations: A Critical/Cultural Study of Arab Cultural Values.” The article tests the Cultural-Economic Model of public relations and provides a critical/cultural perspective of Arab communications patterns.