While social media and social networking tools cannot replace conventional marketing, it is gaining immense importance as a complementary marketing tool. Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts are indispensable, cost effective ways of enhancing the impact of a marketing campaign in this web-connected world.

According to the Arab Social Media Report (ASMR), produced by the Dubai School of Government, the total number of Facebook users in the Arab world stands at over 21 million in December 2010, up from over 11 million in January 2010, showing a 78% annual growth rate. UAE has the highest penetration rate in the Arab region, with more than 45% of the population having Facebook accounts.

The onus is now on the manufacturers and distributors on how optimally to use this potentially powerful tool in gaining brand visibility, sales, endorsements and 'top of the mind recall'.

One announcement that has sparked off debate all round, is Informa Exhibitions' decision to quit Birmingham and opt for London to host the next Ipex. The news has evoked mixed reactions along with heated 'for and against' debates. While London has more connectivity internationally, the commute within London and higher hotel costs seem prohibitive to the naysayers.

However what will ultimately bring local and international exhibitors and visitors to the show is the new technology, innovations and latest developments in machinery that will be exhibited.