What drives the future of social media?

Emirates Woman taps TikTok General Manager of Operations – Middle East, Turkey, Africa, Pakistan and South Asia, Kinda Ibrahim, to unlock social media’s evolution and innovation potential.

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?

I start my day at 6am with a quick coffee, followed by a morning exercise routine that I like to switch up every once in a while. Afterward, I go back home for a nutritious breakfast while catching up on the news. This routine not only energises me but also sets a positive tone for a productive workday.

Tell us how you got your start in the industry.

From the outset, my passion for technology was evident. Supported with an undergraduate degree in computer science, I embarked on a career in programming and development. While pursuing my MBA, I seamlessly transitioned into the realm of business, maintaining a strong connection with technology. My journey led me through diverse roles in analytics, project management, business operations, and partnerships within prominent tech companies across North America and the Middle East – including influential names like IMS Health, Yahoo, Microsoft, Twitter, and most recently, TikTok.

How does your role impact innovation and tech at TikTok?

The region is a vibrant hub of creativity, and TikTok’s phenomenal success in the market mirrors the enthusiastic embrace of a platform that provides a unique and positively engaging space for creativity. Since assuming the role of General Manager, I’ve been inspired by the incredible diversity, innovation, and expansive reach of TikTok in the region. In my role, I spearhead the localisation and implementation of our cutting-edge features that resonate with the diverse user base in the Middle East, Turkey, Africa, Pakistan, and South Asia. By collaborating with partners and talents, understanding regional cultural nuances, and fostering partnerships with key stakeholders, I ensure that TikTok remains at the forefront of technological advancements in the region. I am thrilled to lead a dynamic team as we continue to enhance and evolve TikTok’s presence in the region.

How has the Middle East region changed in terms of interacting with TikTok – has there been a shift in the way content is consumed?

The Middle East region has witnessed a notable transformation in its interaction with TikTok, reflecting a shift in content consumption patterns. Short-form content has become increasingly popular, with a focus on engaging elements such as humour, personal anecdotes, and emotional resonance, offering a more immersive and entertaining experience for users. There has been a discernible surge in content consumption across diverse categories including Entertainment, Lifestyle, Education, Music, Sports, and Gaming. Users are actively engaging with content formats like recommendations and reviews, daily life snippets, tips and tricks, as well as the creation and sharing of memes and skits. This evolving landscape underscores the platform’s versatility and its ability to cater to a wide range of interests, making TikTok a dynamic hub for diverse and engaging content experiences in the Middle East.

“Our commitment is to continually illustrate how TikTok is revolutionising the content landscape and democratising content creation by tapping into the strength of its diverse and authentic community.”

How do you aim to drive the platform forward in the region?

TikTok’s remarkable success in the region motivates me to further cultivate and enhance this achievement. With more than 1 billion people around the world who now come to TikTok every month to be entertained, TikTok has become a go-to platform for entertainment. Our commitment is to continually illustrate how TikTok is revolutionising the content landscape and democratising content creation by tapping into the strength of its diverse and authentic community. Functioning as a dynamic cultural hub, the platform connects individuals from various backgrounds, experiences, and communities. TikTok not only facilitates creative expression but also propels global discovery, empowering creators on a worldwide scale. What distinguishes TikTok is its unique ability to provide entertainment while nurturing a gratifying sense of community. Through its inventive strategies, TikTok has reshaped the global and inclusive dimensions of entertainment consumption. A prime example is TikTok’s role as a central hub for originating viral cultural trends, spanning music, fashion, beauty, comedy sketches, recipes, and the discovery of emerging talents. TikTok holds the power to propel these trends into the mainstream, opening doors for opportunities in the entertainment industry for regional talents.

Community is at the core of TikTok. How does the company approach innovation to ensure the content is fresh and engaging?

The TikTok community is at the heart of everything we do, and we are keen to constantly provide them with opportunities to amplify their voices and enable them to be a positive force of change in society. We are a platform that nurtures creative, authentic and positive content communities which are diverse in age, culture and geography, and allows everyone to have a voice. The beauty of TikTok is that there are trends and communities emerging constantly, such as #BookTok where users share reviews and recommendations of their favourite books, #WhereToVisit acting as personalised city tour guide from the TikTok community, #WhatToWatch an Entertainment Hub featuring recommendations, reviews and their reactions on the top movies and series from our community and leading streaming platforms, #TikTokCookbook for our at-home chefs. We also have a robust localisation strategy to encourage users to create content relevant to their local cultures and trends. Our operations teams ensure TikTok provides the best community support for creativity and discovery for our local users in Arabic.

How do you view the future of TikTok and how do you see the use of social media evolve in the next 5 to 10 years?

With the world constantly changing and the rapid evolution of technology, it’s hard to say how digital platforms and social media will evolve in the coming years. However, it is certain that TikTok will persist in reshaping the landscape of entertainment by leveraging the strength of its diverse and authentic community. Through its innovative strategies, TikTok has revolutionised the global and inclusive nature of entertainment consumption, a trend that is poised to strengthen further. The platform’s influence extends to mainstream recognition, offering significant opportunities for creators in the entertainment industry.

With social media use at an all-time high, what type of content stands out to you?

For me, content that really stands out to me is authentic. The TikTok community has created a new global language around video and sound, not just text, by sharing authentic stories, thoughts and experiences with each other. The creativity and authenticity that lives on TikTok cannot be replicated or found anywhere else.

This is The Tech Issue – what technology has been a game changer in your life and how so?

The game changer in my life has undoubtedly been the integration of smartphones and connectivity, along with the subsequent rise of online platforms. This technological duo has transformed the way we access information, democratising content consumption and providing a voice to everyone. The instant availability of information on our smartphones has reshaped communication dynamics, turning these devices into gateways to a vast digital world. Online platforms, in turn, have broken down traditional barriers, allowing individuals from diverse backgrounds to share their perspectives and contribute to a more inclusive and interconnected global conversation. This seamless integration of technology has not only accelerated information flow but has empowered individuals to actively shape the narrative, marking a significant shift in how we interact with and contribute to the world around us.

February’s – The Tech Issue with Christiana Maxion  – Download Now

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