Book fair
Finding the right balance and how to reap the benefits of social media were discussed at the ongoing 39th Sharjah International Book Fair on Thursday. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Social media has revolutionised the way we communicate and interact. However, it also has its downsides as it can be easily manipulated by cyber criminals.

Leanne ‘Kai’ Brackett

Finding the right balance and how to reap the benefits of social media were discussed at the ongoing 39th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) on Thursday. A motivational coach and author noted that social media, when used “moderately and mindfully”, can even help boost our sense of overall well-being. Leanne ‘Kai’ Brackett, motivational coach and author and executive director at Bite Club LLC, said during an online session titled Teens & Social Media: “It’s definitely all about finding the right balance.”

“As well as being sensible with how much time you spend on social media, being mindful of what you expose yourself to online is vital,” explained Brackett, adding: “Increasing exposure to harmful content, cyberbullying and the pressure to portray a perfect life, face and body, can be problematic, particularly for young people. Regularly viewing content that triggers feelings of anxiety or inadequacy will affect many people’s mental health in a negative way. So try and be aware of the type of content you consume.”

Follow those who smile and inspire

Brackett noted: “Social media is really important for a lot of people, especially teens, and particularly when it comes to friendships, keeping up with what is going on and combating social isolation.”

She advised teenagers to actively look for content and follow people who, “make you smile, inform and inspire you. If you do that, you are far less likely to experience a negative response to social media and can even benefit from it”.

Effective social media storytelling

Social media expert Alexandra Maia, founder and creative strategist of House of Social, offered tips on effective social media storytelling. She said: “You must create engaging stories that can turn people into listeners, who will then become your followers. Social media storytelling is the process of using social media platforms to tell stories about your brand, products, or whatever you want to convey, to captivate your audience.”

Sharjah Book fair
The key, according to experts, is that storytelling on social media should not be just another tactic to sell products or services. Image Credit: Supplied

The key, she highlighted, is that storytelling on social media is not just another tactic to sell products or services. “It enables you to expose your brand to your audience, tell them what your brand is all about. Like any other form of storytelling, it has to have a beginning, middle and an end,” she explained.

Know your audience

Maia said the most important part of storytelling is to know your audience. “Before creating a story, ask yourself, ‘Who are your viewers? Who will engage with your story the most?’ You need to understand your audience to create a compelling story, What do you want people to feel? Write your story from that point of view,” she advised. The key, according to Alexandra, is to “create storyboards so that you know what you have to do every step of the way. Be clear about the visual style to adopt for your story and see that your photography and music mirrors that.”

How to make books viral

Meanwhile, Emirati writer Fathiya Al Nimr and Spanish novelist Alex Chico addressed the role of social media platforms in driving a book’s popularity.

Chico said online platforms are playing an integral role in diversifying critical writing and with its ability to offer instant feedback, there is a marked shift in the way literary titles are embraced or rejected. “A single tweet that takes few seconds to read can drive a certain book’s popularity,” he noted.

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Al Nimr, for her part, advised budding writers to write in genres they are very good at and not to repeat their themes and ideas in subsequent works. “They also have to be honest and authentic in their craft,” she underlined.

How to attend SIBF

Organised by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), SIBF 2020 concludes on November 14. This year’s edition of SIBF is a combination of online and face-to-face events. Online or in-person visitors can register for upcoming discussions at